For no less than 30 years, “The Phantom Of The Opera” has maintained one of the most loyal audiences on Broadway and throughout several subsequent tours, though its latest visit to Chicago boasts a fresh interpretation sure to send the senses into overdrive. Producer Cameron Mackintosh is the man behind the update on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical phenomenon, beefing up the cast and orchestra to 52 members, while introducing more opulent sets, reinvigorated chorography, special effects galore and a slight tightening of the book to keep audiences biting their nails nearly the entire time.
Issues of acceptance, rejection, empathy, anger and embracing genuine love are just a handful of the layers in this complex tale that was way ahead of its time when it was first staged in the ‘80s and continues to be a benchmark for the entire Broadway community.
Yet even with all the creative changes and visual modernizations, “The Phantom Of The Opera” retains the ageless storyline of a mysterious masked man (the extraordinary Derrick Davis) who haunts the Paris Opera House but simultaneously gives tender attention to burgeoning soprano singer Christine (the nearly as impressive Katie Travis). Besides mentoring her to become the venue’s leading lady, the unlikely friends also develop a deep and otherworldly affection towards one another, but it’s quickly complicated by The Phantom’s increasing reign of terror.
Along the way, the leading pair and a tightly rehearsed cast (which also includes the equally dependable Jordan Craig as Christine’s other suitor Raoul) deliver all the signature songs such as “Think Of Me,” “Angel Of Music,” “The Music Of The Night,” “All I Ask Of You,” “Masquerade” and “The Point Of No Return.” And like the many editions before it, the 2016/17 tour also makes masterful use of a chandelier in the center of the Cadillac Palace Theatre that leaves theatregoers gasping at the cliffhanging intermission.
Whether it’s the first or the 50th time seeing “The Phantom Of The Opera,” Mackintosh’s take is capable of meeting fans wherever they’re at, while providing plenty of reflection points following the finale’s gripping love triangle standoff. Issues of acceptance, rejection, empathy, anger and embracing genuine love are just a handful of the layers in this complex web that was way ahead of its time in the ‘80s and continues to be a benchmark for the entire Broadway community.