BWW Reviews: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA in Cincinnati
Phantom returned to the Aronoff recently and while on my way to the show I asked myself a couple questions. The first being: why was this show returning when there are so many good shows touring that haven't been to Cincinnati yet? I got my answer very quickly when I walked into the packed theater that had the widest age range of any show this season. Phantom is consistent and apparently is a show that parents or grandparents want to experience with their children. My second question was am I going to enjoy the show after having already seen it once on stage and the movie (which has to be the most literal stage to screen translation ever) multiple times? I did enjoy it. As much as I did the first time I saw it, no but this tour added new and interesting elements that kept this reviewer's attention.
The good: The best thing about this show were the sets and the set changes. Every time a set changed excitement surged through me because of how creatively or how quickly the crew pulled it off. My personal favorites were the descent into the Phantom's lair where the stairs came out of a wall and the chandelier falling (where everyone in my section jumped thinking it was going to legitimately hit the audience). Julia Udine as Christine was the standout. She was the best singer and actor in the cast as well she should be because a bad Christine would be worst than a bad Phantom. Which brings us to Cooper Grodin as The Phantom. Grodin was good but could have been better. I don't know if some of the notes were out of his range or it was just his singing style but he seemed to be reaching to hit some of the higher notes. He also didn't seem evil or bad enough towards the beginning and middle of the show. The Phantom is the bad guy in this show and I didn't feel that anger that is suppose drive the Phantom. Grodin was great at the more emotional parts towards the end. His last notes before he leaves the theater were just the right about of hopefulness and sadness. Brad Oscar and Edward Staudenmayer were hilarious as Monsieur Firmin and Monsieur Andre.
The not so good: Ben Jacoby as Raoul had some issues. It could be that Raoul is just not an interesting enough character to stand next to Christine and the Phantom but everytime he is on stage he annoys me (and Jacoby didn't do much to help in that department). The supporting cast was also not bad but it was difficult to understand them especially the Carlotta and Piangi characters.
The Phantom of the Opera is definitely a show any theater-goer should see at least once and this tour held its on up against expectations that come along with this show.
Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy