Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera debuted at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, and I can’t give anything but a glowing review of this timeless love story. Rush down and see this spectacular display of acting, singing, lighting and even pyrotechnics (a lot to handle, I know) before this four-week limited engagement draws to a close. Producer Cameron Mackintosh masterfully orchestrates this Broadway classic and immerses the audience in a world of splendor and drama. The signature Andrew Lloyd Webber touch is evident throughout the musical with infectious pop tunes and captivating sets that break the fourth wall, ultimately leaving the audience wondering where the Phantom will show up next. For the majority of the musical I forgot I was even in a theater surrounded by a whole audience. For all I knew, I was witnessing the Phantom in his prime during late 19th century Paris.
The Phantom of the Opera features Christine (Katie Travis), an up-and-coming opera singer who finds herself in a unique mentoring relationship with the protagonist himself. The masked man (Derrick Davis) leads a life of exile behind the walls of the Paris Opera until he hears Christine and begins an intense and immersive relationship from afar. The mentoring relationship lands Christine, a mere choir girl, with the once in a lifetime opportunity of standing in for the main opera singer. From behind the shadows, the Phantom enacts his reign of terror stealthily creating more opportunities for Christine, and ultimately for himself as well. While Christine remains mesmerized by her elusive mentor, her new leading role puts her in the spotlight so that an old childhood friend, Raoul (Jordan Craig), begins to notice and fall in love with her. Before you know it, we have a full-fledged love triangle in the middle of the opera. How ironic.
Davis portrays the tortured and talented Phantom with a poignant understanding for the agony he experiences daily, knowing that Christine will most likely reject him if she sees the rest of his deformed face. The defense mechanisms built up by a man surrounded by years of isolation are seen in Davis’ brilliant take on the Phantom. Of course, Davis rounds out his performance with his wonderfully talented voice. Travis shines as the pristine Christine, expertly portraying a soul being pulled in two directions- will she choose a life with her enigmatic mentor or choose a steady life with Raoul?
The singing, choreography and talent is overflowing from the rest of the cast and orchestra of 52. The rousing number “Masquerade” stands out as an incredible feat by choreographer Scott Ambler. The splendor of the Phantom is lastly topped off by an amazing set–with moving chandeliers and towering structures–this musical displays everything a good show needs. Cure your post-holiday blues with a trip to Broadway in Chicago.
The Phantom of the Opera is at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., and ends its run in Chicago on January 8. Buy tickets here!