BWW Reviews: Lewis and Boggess Add Luster to THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
There's an old saying that you should never see a Broadway show more than six months into its run because the production starts looking tired and the performances start losing spontaneity.
I don't know how The Phantom Of The Opera was doing six months into its Broadway run but at the ripe old age of 26 - and approaching its 11,000th performance - director Harold Prince and producer Cameron Mackintosh's crisp and emotion-laded production is in exemplary shape.
Those who remember 1988 will recall that, despite the musical's tremendous popularity, there were many who complained that Phantom and its sister British mega-musicals were little more than overblown spectacles. Well, a quarter of a century later, the gothic drama seems downright tasteful compared with some of the shows that have come around since.
Certainly, Maria Björnson's elegant sets and costumes haven't lost any of their beauty; nor has Andrew Bridge's dramatic lighting. True, the legendary chandelier has lost some of its menace and Charles Hart's lyrics are competent at best, but when the 26-piece orchestra caresses Andrew Lloyd Webber's lush, romantic melodies there's quite a bit of majesty filling the aptly named Majestic Theatre.
And what 26-year-old production could ask for a better birthday present than two top-shelf musical theatre actors taking over its leading roles.
While much has been made of the fact that Norm Lewis is now the first African-American to play the title role on Broadway, the more significant difference between he and past phantoms is that his is a traditional baritone voice singing a role more identified with high baritones and tenors. Those high dramatic belts are now replaced with lovely pillowy head tones as the character's loneliness and agony come through in Lewis' stirring lower register.
Sierra Boggess beautifully and completely conveys Christine's growth from a timid young talent to a determined and gutsy woman.
With fine support from Jeremy Hays' heroic Raoul, Michele McConnell's bombastic Carlotta and Ellen Harvey's comically dry Madame Giry, The Phantom Of The Opera ain't showing its age a bit.