Phantom of the Opera

“The Journey” (From L) Chris Mann as The Phantom and Katie Travis as Christine Daaé. Photo: Matthew Murphy.The first musical I saw, 25 years ago, was The Phantom of the Opera.  I was absolutely captivated by this musical; the score, the compelling characters, and the thrilling special effects made for a magical night of theatre.  I was eager to revisit Phantom and that feeling, so I was thrilled to find out that Mirvish was mounting a new production at the Princess of Wales Theatre.

This production had all the elements to create a piece of theatre every bit as spectacular as the one I had experienced so many years ago, but unfortunately it fell a little short.  Paul Brown’s multi-purpose set design was handsome but the main piece was so immense, and so far forward on the stage that the large cast scrambled to occupy space, resulting in blocking that came across as clunky at times.  Also, the original subterranean boat ride that Christine and the Phantom took to his abode was awe inspiringꟷ in this production, they simply went from stage right, to stage left, with the actors breaking the illusion of being in water by stepping off the boat right into said ‘water.’  Later, the boat meandered slowly from upstage which was far more effective.

Maria Bjornson’s costume design was exquisite, full of colours and textures, and Nina Dunn’s clever video projections were a highlight in this production.  Laurence Connor directed the talented cast.  Overall, I enjoyed Connor’s take on the production, but I found some of his staging inhibited the actors’ performances.

Chris Mann of The Voice fame plays the eponymous role. Mann has a stunning voice, but he missed some of the emotional depth the Phantom needs.  Katie Travis’ operatic Christine was solid, and heartfelt. Both singers seemed to over-pronounce some of the words in their numbers which was off putting. Jacquelynne Fontaine was delightfully funny as the diva Carlotta even if her Italian accent didn’t quite hit the mark.  The talented supporting cast of actors, and dancers rounded out a strong central cast.

If you have never seen the original version of The Phantom of the Opera, this go-round still offers a special night of theatre that will appeal to a broad audience.  If I didn’t have another production to compare it to, I might have left the theatre with a different feeling.

About The Author

Nicole Fairbairn spent most of her adult life in Vancouver but decided to make Toronto her home four years ago and she’s loving every minute of it. She began writing for fun and it’s turned into a great passion. She’s an avid supporter of the arts and enjoys experiencing the many wonderful cultural events this city has to offer. When she’s not writing, Nicole enjoys reading, ice skating, salsa dancing, travelling and hanging out with her cat. Favourite Place in Toronto: Distillery District with its beautifully restored Victorian buildings, great cafes, stunning galleries, hip boutiques and vibrant theatre scene.

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