Anyone who knows me knows that musical theatre has been my passion for as long as I can remember. That fire was lit when I first saw the Phantom of the Opera with Colm Wilkinson at Toronto’s storied Pantages Theatre. Last night we were invited to the National Arts Centre to watch Cameron MackIntosh’s new production of The Phantom of the Opera and it was spectacular.
Having now seen the Phantom of the Opera 17 times, yes you read right 17, I’ve been known to be very picky about how it’s performed. A little bit of creative licence is ok but too much can spoil it for me. Take the 2004 movie that starred Gerard Butler, for instance; the acting was excellent Butler and Emmy Rossum were brilliant in their roles of Phantom and Christine but the writers of the movie decided to take one of the biggest climactic scenes and move it to the end rather than the middle where it belonged, doing things like this change the entire storyline and that ruined the movie for me.
In Ottawa’s production of the Phantom of the Opera Derek Davis performed the role of the Phantom and Eva Tavares took on the role of Christine. The two had an electric chemistry on stage which is exactly what I’d expect between the Phantom and Christine. BC Native, Tavares performed her role brilliantly and her voice gave me goosebumps from the minute she sang her first note; after letting last nights show sink in overnight I can now say that Eva Tavares’ Christine is my favourite since Sarah Brightman held the role in the original production in 1986.
Davis had the most difficult role, the Phantom is sort of a Jekyll and Hyde character. He has to come across hard and cruel on the outside but show that on the inside he’s a scared and lonely man longing to be loved with a deeply rooted passion for music. Davis did so with ease. His songs were smooth, silky and like a magical lasso pulled everyone into his world and made the all of our heart’s break for the Phantom.
The two leads are only as good as their supporting cast and in the Phantom of the Opera there are so many critical roles that must be performed correctly for the story line to be believable. First I want to touch on the diva Carlotta. Played by Trista Moldovan, Carlotta was, in a word, perfect. Carlotta is the anti-hero who had held the role of lead soprano a little bit too long for the Phantom’s liking but was still the main stay at the Paris Opera house…until Christine comes along and steals her spotlight. How would you feel if you were a lead performer at a major opera house only to be upstaged by a young rising star? I think it’s safe to say you’d be pretty miserable. Moldovan’s job was to convince the audience that she was that miserable and she nailed it in a way that only Carlotta Giudicelli can.
In the supporting male category we have Raoul, Christine’s love interest and the Phantom’s nemesis. Performed by Jordan Craig, Raoul brought balance to the stage. It was his job to build an equal and opposing force of chemistry with Christine to keep her from falling for the Phantom’s spell, ok that sounds easy but it has to be convincing to the audience. Craig’s performance added to the power of the production by creating so much chemistry with Christine and so much negative chemistry with the Phantom that the show was set up perfectly for a climactic and explosive end.
I could go on and on about the other key players in the cast such as David Benoit (Monsieur Firmin), Edward Staudenmayer (Monsieur André), Kristie Dale Sanders (Madame Giry), Emily Ramirez (Meg Giry – Christine’s best friend) and so many more. Each of these characters play a critical role in transporting the audience every night from 2017 to sometime in the late 1800’s.
The set design, wardrobe and special effects were spectacular, I’d expect nothing less from Cameron Mackintosh the man behind Les Miserables and Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Cats. The entire production is absolutely brilliant. You don’t just watch The Phantom of the Opera, you become part of the production. I can’t say enough about this other than get your tickets and go before it’s too late!
Cameron Mackintosh’s production of The Phantom of the Opera continues at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa through October 29 and is presented by Broadway Across Canada, up next for the 2017-2018 Broadway Series is Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Tony Award-winning musical phenomenon Les Miserables which runs from February 13-18 at the National Arts Centre followed by The Illusionists March 27-April 1. Tickets for all shows are on sale now.