Behind the Music of the Night

Syd Pierre, Staff Writer

“Phantom of The Opera” is a musical theatre classic, complete with grand sets, stunning songs, and a Best Musical award from both the Tonys and its British counterpart, the Oliviers. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical is based on the novel “Le Fantôme de l’Opéra”written by Gaston Leroux in 1910, and premiered on the West End in 1986. “Phantom” opened on Broadway in 1988, and continues to play on both Broadway and the West End, making it the second-longest running musical on the West End and the longest running musical on Broadway; the show will celebrate its 31st anniversary this coming January. “Phantom” is currently playing at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis through Dec. 31.

Both the novel and musical follow Christine Daaé, a chorus girl at the Opéra Populaire and orphaned daughter of an acclaimed violinist. Early in the show, Christine is suddenly promoted to the lead soprano role of the opera’s next production after improving her vocals, thanks to the help of a mysterious new vocal teacher, whom Christine affectionately calls her “angel of music.” The new vocal teacher turns out to be none other than the Phantom of the Opera himself, an elusive, demanding and masked mystery man who lurks in the shadows of the opera house. Over the course of the two and a half hour show, Christine finds herself in a messy and dangerous love triangle between her old acquaintance, Raoul, and the Phantom, who lures and seduces her with his music and sultry ways. “Phantom” is the epitome of classical theatre, filled with astonishing scenic and costume design, an incredible amount of special effects, and operatic vocals.

On the North American tour, Christine is played by Eva Tavares, whose strong soprano stole the show, as her voice soared to notes that climbed higher and higher, leaving the audience in awe. Her powerful vibrato and opera background showed significantly in “Think of Me” and “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again.” Derrick Davis portrays the Phantom and his rich vocals perfectly fit with “The Music of the Night,” “The Point of No Return,” and “The Phantom of the Opera.” Jordan Craig nails the protective and guiding role of Raoul, providing strong vocals and chemistry in his duet with Tavares, “All I Ask.” Emily Ramirez plays Meg Giry, Christine’s long time friend and supporter, and provides a delicate, lilith voice during her duet with Tavares, “Angel of Music.”

The set, designed by Paul Brown, is filled with details, grandeur and stunning special effects. The design centers around period authentic components and uses rich colors, such as gold, deep reds, greens, and blues for added dimension. A memorable moment comes near the beginning of the musical, when stairs seem to magically appear out of a wall, leading Christine down to the Phantom’s hidden lair. Another appears near the end, during a party scene when the room is covered in mirrors, making it seem like it’s filled to the brim with masquerade-goers. Brown doesn’t shy away from special effects, as real flames are used often throughout the show, and of course, the acclaimed chandelier makes an appearance or two. Maria Björnson’s costume designs shine on stage, filled with rich colors, unique fabrics and embroidery that add to the splendour of the show. During “Masquerade,” the costumes fill the stage with swirling skirts and capes, and combine bright colors with darker, mysterious hues, adding an unsettling feeling to the party scene.

“Phantom” is playing at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis through Dec. 31, and this mysterious musical is not a show to hide from. Stunning scenic design, classical vocals, rich orchestration, and an intriguing storyline will leave the audience hooked, maybe even past the point of no return.