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BWW Reviews: Vox Lumiere's Exciting PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is Mind-Blowing Entertainment

Most of the time, when you go to the theater you pretty much know what to expect. Though the subject matter and delivery style varies, when you buy a ticket to a play or musical you basically know what kind of show you're going to see. Well here's one for those of you who want something that is truly different, incredibly exciting, and definitely the ticket for one of the coolest theatrical events to be found in LA right now. But it's only happening one weekend a month through the end of the year. Next available dates are October 10 & 11.

To say we were blown away by Vox Lumiere's THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA would be an understatement. This exhilarating mix of media, written and directed by visionary composer Kevin Saunders Hayes, is a hybrid of elements in which leather and skin and glam rock meets classical opera, steampunk, and a silent film masterpiece. The thrilling result is nothing less than electrifying and one best described as sensory stimulation on steroids. It's like taking a raging techno-dive down a retro-modern rabbit hole. All you can do is hold on tight and give yourself over to the ride.

For this production, the inspiration is the original 1925 silent horror film The Phantom of the Opera starring Lon Chaney. While the film is shown on giant screens that fill the upper portion of the theater, beautiful people in fantastical costumes display a dizzying array of skills on the stage below.

Six singers bring the characters to life, including three crystal clear coloraturas (Julie Brody as Carlotta, Danielle Skalsky as The Grande Dame, and Marisa Johnson as Christine, onstage), a haunting pop vocalist (Victoria Levy as Christine, offstage), a throat-ripping heavy metal rocker (James Lynch as The Phantom), a clown (Chris Marcos as Faust) and a romantic (D. Valentine as Raoul). The ridiculously talented cast also includes seven versatile dancers, who perform the intricate and athletic choreography by Natalie Willes, and a three-piece band under the stage scaffolding. Added effects include enhanced recorded vocal tracks for the ensemble and additional pre-recorded instruments. All together they add up to a powerful one-of-a-kind musical and visual experience.

The Bal Masque Prince-twisted "Party like its 1899" sequence and the angular moves of a ballerina and her partner's pas de deux mirroring the Phantom's chase are only two of the creative ways Willes reinvents the classic story via her movement.

Jason Thompson's video and projection design produces some stunning effects; one that has virtual rats running around the floor of the torture chamber caverns is particularly striking. William Kirkham's extraordinary light show is a rapidly changing schematic that nails the futuristic feel of the setting while highlighting the drama in Sharell Martin's highly theatrical steampunk-meets-Paris-couture costumes and the exaggerated whimsy of Kristy Staky's hair, wig and makeup design.

Even the lobby experience is unique so go early to get the full effect of the photo ops and other creative touches. The performance takes place at the Los Angeles Theater Center located in a historic bank building downtown that was built in 1916. Look up to see the massive stained glass ceiling above you and make sure you go down to the lower level where you still walk through the underground vault doors to get to the restrooms. If ever there was an appropriate theater for THE PHANTOM, this is it.

Remaining Dates: Oct. 10-11, Nov. 21-22, Dec. 12-13, 2014
Los Angeles Theatre Center
514 S Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90013
Tickets: (844) VOX-ROCK or

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Pictured above: Marisa Johnson as Christine
Photo credit: Johanna Siegmann

James Lynch as The Phantom

D Valentine, Cameron Evans, Jamie Pfaff, Caroline Pampalone,
Chris Marcos, and Sian Dakin

Dustin Ripken, Cameron Evans, Jamie Pfaff, Caroline Pampalone, Chris Marcos,
Sian Dakina, and Julie Brody as Carlotta

James Lynch as the Phantom

Julie Brody as Carlotta

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