The Phantom a feast for the eyes and ears

Toronto Sun - - SHOWBIZ - LIZ BRAUN Stage

If the­atre as spec­ta­cle is your thing, you can’t do much bet­ter than The Phantom Of The Opera.

Cameron Mack­in­tosh’s re­vised pro­duc­tion is a treat for the eyes and ears — all daz­zling stag­ing and cos­tumes and all that over­wrought An­drew Lloyd Web­ber mu­sic.

The story, of course, is in­com­pre­hen­si­ble twad­dle (book by Richard Stil­goe and Lloyd Web­ber) — but as Phantom has been run­ning suc­cess­fully in one place or another for 30 years, it’s prob­a­bly too late to com­plain about du­bi­ous sto­ry­telling.

In its cur­rent in­car­na­tion, The Phantom of The Opera is a dark psy­cho­log­i­cal study with par­al­lels to Beauty and The Beast. The tale is set at the Paris Opera, where in­ternecine drama sees the famed diva Car­lotta (Trista Moldovan) re­placed by a shy in­genue from the dance corps.

Un­be­knownst to all, the dancer Chris­tine (Eva Tavares) has an ex­tra­or­di­nary singing voice, thanks to a mys­te­ri­ous vo­cal coach she re­gards as the ‘an­gel of mu­sic.’

That se­cret coach is the Phantom of the Opera him­self (Quentin Oliver Lee), a shad­owy and dis­fig­ured ge­nius who hides out in a gothic, un­der­ground lair. The mad mu­si­cian is masked to hide his ghastly face and he trav­els by se­cret stair­way and gon­dola (ku­dos to set de­signer Paul Brown); a lot of smoke and mir­rors —not to men­tion dry ice, flames and os­ten­ta­tious chan­de­liers — are in­volved in this pro­duc­tion, but the the­atrics never quite make up for an un­sat­is­fac­tory story.

When the dash­ing Vi­comte de Chagny (Herb Porter on the night we at­tended) falls in love with Chris­tine and she with him, the Phantom’s jeal­ousy un­hinges him. Only com­pas­sion can save them all now, etc.

De­spite all the well-known drama, some of the more at­trac­tive bits in Phantom Of The Opera are comedic, and most of those send up the van­ity and in­trigue in­side a the­atre com­pany. The first scene, for ex­am­ple — a dress re­hearsal for a fic­tional opera — is witty and en­er­getic, with the fan­tas­tic cos­tume work from the late Maria Bjorn­son on full dis­play.

Phantom Of The Opera is an ex­trav­a­ganza from another era, so nos­tal­gia can­not be dis­counted as one of its at­trac­tions. The pro­duc­tion, di­rected by Lau­rence Con­nor, is at the Princess of Wales the­atre through June 30.

Tick­ets and info: Mirvish. com.

MATTHEW MUR­PHY PHOTO

Quentin Oliver Lee and Eva Tavares in a scene from Phantom of the Opera.

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