In 1991 the Broward Performing Arts Center opened in Fort Lauderdale with the first touring company of Phantom of the Opera and last night, 23 years later, 28 years after it opened in London, 26 years after it opened on Broadway, and still running in both cities, the touring company has returned to the Arts Center in a somewhat reimagined production.

The main changes are in the set designed by Paul Brown, the lighting design by Paul Constable and the choreography by Scott Ambler. The latter is most notable in the Masquerade number with over 30 members of the cast. There are 52 people between the cast and orchestra making this a full production directed by Laurence Connor. The set design is a huge cylindrical wall that moves, turns, opens, closes and, almost magically, grows steps for the Phantom and Christine to walk down so they can go to his living quarters.

With all the changes it would not be a show without the story of the triangle between the Phantom (Cooper Grodin), Raoul (Ben Jacoby) and Christine (Julia Udine). The three leads are younger than in most previous casts which brings another dimension to the musical. Grodin tenor resonates in the title tune and The Music of the Night” while Udine’s crystal clear soprano voice soars Wishing You Were Somehow Herealon
g with her duets with both men. Jacoby makes All I Ask Of You powerful but at the same time not overpowering Udine. The one critical mistake is that there is no chemistry between the three leads which takes away from the love stories.

A standout in the cast is Jacquelynne Fontaine as the opera diva Carlotta. Also giving strong support are Anne Kanengeiser as Madame Giry, Brad Oscar as Monsieur Firmin and Edward Staudenmayer as Monsieur Andre. The rest of the large cast and ensemble are of top caliber.

Oh yes, the chandelier is still there in all its glory

One note: the theatrical smoke and pyrotechnical effects are very heavy and infiltrate the orchestral level of the Center. At one point I was concerned for the musicians and cast because they were so heavy.

Running time: Act 1 An hour and 10 minutes Intermission 25 minutes Act 2 An hour.


Posted November 26, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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