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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.

BWW Reviews:  Lewis and Boggess Add Luster to THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
Norm Lewis and Sierra Boggess
(Photo: Matthew Murphy)

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.

BWW Reviews:  Lewis and Boggess Add Luster to THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
Sierra Boggess, Jeremy Hays and Company
(Photo: Matthew Murphy)

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.

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Michael Dale After 20-odd years singing, dancing and acting in dinner theatres, summer stocks and the ever-popular audience participation murder mysteries (try improvising with audiences after they?ve had two hours of open bar), Michael Dale segued his theatrical ambitions into playwriting. The buildings which once housed the 5 Off-Off Broadway plays he penned have all been destroyed or turned into a Starbucks, but his name remains the answer to the trivia question, "Who wrote the official play of Babe Ruth's 100th Birthday?" He served as Artistic Director for The Play's The Thing Theatre Company, helping to bring free live theatre to underserved communities, and dabbled a bit in stage managing and in directing cabaret shows before answering the call (it was an email, actually) to become BroadwayWorld.com's first Chief Theatre Critic. While not attending shows Michael can be seen at Citi Field pleading for the Mets to stop imploding. Likes: Strong book musicals and ambitious new works. Dislikes: Unprepared celebrities making their stage acting debuts by starring on Broadway and weak bullpens.