MASKED FLAWS

NOW Magazine - - STAGE - GLENN SUMI

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA by An­drew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart and Richard Stil­goe (Cameron Mack­in­tosh). At the Princess of Wales (300 King West). Runs to June 30. $79-$220. mirvish.com. See Con­tin­u­ing, page 40. Rat­ing: NNN

Com­plain all you like about how The Phantom Of The Opera and other mega-mu­si­cals of the 80s and 90s ru­ined the art form, made shows all about spec­ta­cle (a he­li­copter! a chan­de­lier!) and ratch­eted up ticket prices.

Py­rotech­nics alone aren’t enough to make a show run for decades.

So even though I was luke­warm about see­ing yet an­other ver­sion of An­drew Lloyd Webber’s mu­si­cal about the masked man who haunts the Paris Opera House in the early part of the 20th cen­tury, I was still hum­ming its melodies two days af­ter see­ing it. Sure- ly that counts for some­thing.

And Cameron Mack­in­tosh’s re­vised pro­duc­tion lets you see bits of the show in new ways.

Tour­ing now for a cou­ple of years, this ver­sion is aided by Paul Brown’s sturdy, ver­sa­tile set dom­i­nated by a large col­umn that opens up to ef­fi­ciently show off dif­fer­ent as­pects of the set­ting, from lit­tle an­techam­bers to spooky cor­ri­dors in the Paris Opera House. Ku­dos to light­ing de­signer Paule Con­sta­ble for some ef­fec­tive shadow work sig­nalling the Phantom (Quentin Oliver Lee) creep­ing around the the­atre.

And thanks to ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy, even the in­fa­mous chan­de­lier stunt has been tweaked to pro­vide an ex­tra fris­son of ten­sion.

If only such at­ten­tion had been lav­ished on the show’s book, by Lloyd Webber and Richard Stil­goe, which never lets you un­der­stand the mo­ti­va­tion for the Phantom’s ob­ses­sion with in­genue Chris­tine (Eva Tavares), and, even worse, skimps on her back­story with child­hood friend Raoul (Jor­dan Craig), now a wealthy vi­comte and opera bene­fac­tor, cre­at­ing a love tri­an­gle you just don’t care about.

There’s fine, colour­ful sup­port­ing work by David Benoit, Ed­ward Stau­den­mayer and Kristie Dale San­ders as im­pre­sar­ios Mon­sieurs Firmin and An­dré, who help set the plot in mo­tion, and house diva Car­lotta, Chris­tine’s neme­sis.

The three prin­ci­pals, while de­cent enough singers (Lee and Tavares rely a lit­tle too much on falsetto notes for ef­fects), could be stronger ac­tors. Al­though their tunes are fa­mil­iar, none of them makes you hear the mu­sic of the night – or the day – in a new way.

MU­SI­CAL RE­VIEW Eva Tavares and Jor­dan Craig es­cape the phantom’s men­ace.

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