Last night we attended The Phantom of the Opera at the Times-Union Performing Arts Center, brought to us by FSCJ Artist Series. Having seen Phantom several times, both on and off Broadway, I was excited to see what had been added or improved. First and foremost, the music is the iconic music we have all loved for decades. The production however has moved into the technology age.
The new chandelier is spellbinding, replete with 6,000 beads that glisten and shine, and pyrotechnics utilized at exactly the right moment and in the most dramatic way. Pyrotechnics are present several times during the performance and each time added to the intensity of the story. The towering sets flowed seamlessly from one scene to the next with no interruption to the story line, moving quickly and quietly through the use of bluetooth technology. The sets were powerful, invoking the emotion of the storyline, and vibrant. The use of a mirrored surface above the dancers in the Grand Ballroom filled the theater with beautiful dancers in period costume. The sound systems used throughout the performance were amazing; the echoes of the Phantom’s (Chris Mann) voice from somewhere deep within the labyrinth, or behind box 5 were masterful.
Which brings us to the outstanding performances by the entire cast.
Chris Mann (the Phantom) stunned me with the range and volume of his vocals. I watched him compete and make the finalist rounds on The Voice, and admired his voice then, but he is a master of opera. His rendition of The Music of the Night is among the best I have heard.
Katie Travis (Christine) used her operatic training to produce a superb performance throughout the production, bringing her character to life. Not only were her solos impeccable but her duets were perfection. During our interview on Thursday, I asked Katie how she manages to keep her performance fresh and exciting after having performed it hundreds of times on tour. Her response was that she tries to stay in the moment and remember that although it may be the hundredth time for her, it could be the first time for those in her audience. She succeeded in doing just that, bringing a vibrant, thoughtful performance to her character.
Storm Lineberger (Raoul) has a brilliant career in front of him in musical theater. During our interview Thursday, I asked Storm about his background and he responded that Phantom was his first engagement since graduating from college. His vocals were amazing and his portrayal of Raoul masterful. One can only imagine how magnificent this young man will be as he gains more experience.
The entire cast performed well and it was a night of musical magic. The new production of The Phantom of the Opera focuses on the story of a young woman and her choices in love and career and is as relevant today as it was when first written and produced.
If you have not yet purchased a gift for your loved one for Valentine’s Day, may I suggest tickets to The Phantom of the Opera which are sure to impress.