Review Roundup: The National Tour of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
The North American tour of Phantom of the Opera has made its way across the country with stops in Pittsburgh, Providence, Denver and more!
The cast features Derrick Davis (The Phantom), Emma Grimsley (Christine Daaé), Jordan Craig (Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny), Trista Moldovan (Carlotta Giudicelli), David Benoit (Monsieur Firmin), Rob Lindley (Monsieur André), Susan Moniz (Madame Giry), Phumzile Sojola (Ubaldo Piangi), SarahGrace Mariani (Meg Giry), Adam Bashian (Auctioneer), Stephen Tewksbury (Monsieur LeFevre/Firechief, u/s Monsieur Firmin), David Foley, JR. (Monsieur Reyer, u/s Monsieur Firmin), and Victor Wallace (Joseph Buquet).
The cast also includes Marguerite Willbanks, Jenna Burns, Kaitlyn Davis, Kathryn McCreary, Shane Ohmer, Nicholas Ranauro, Carmen Vass, Stephen Mitchell Brown, Travis Taylor, Quinto Ott, Herb Porter, McKenna Birmingham, Daniela Filippone, Charlotte Hovey, Jordan Lombardi, Austin Sora, Tara Sweeney, Daniella Dalli, Dan Debenport, Siri Howard, Edward Juvier, Adryan Moorefield, Lily Rose Peck, Micki Weiner.
Brandy McDonnell, The Oklahoman: Eva Tavares boasts an angelic voice as the impressionable ingenue Christine Daae, and despite his booming baritone and towering stature, Quentin Oliver Lee brings The Phantom's sympathetic side. Jordan Craig rounds out the love triangle as Raoul, Christine's childhood friend-turned-beau. David Benoit and Rob Lindley are droll as the new theater owners dealing with demanding "Notes" from The Phantom and their displaced diva Carlotta (Trista Moldovan).
Jeremy Reynolds, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: I'm actually quite fond of "Phantom" as a show and happy to acknowledge Mr. Webber's brilliance as a melodist. I've seen a couple of productions and grew up listening to the original cast album, as it was my mother's favorite show by a mile. That said, even with grandiose new sets by Paul Brown, rotating cylinders that allow for more variety and detail than the original, and the ramped up sound system and pyrotechnics, the acting and vocal work felt stilted.
Catherine Jozwick, Milwaukee Magazine: With a commanding stage presence and rich baritone voice, yet easily maintaining vulnerability, Quentin Oliver Lee (Prince of Broadway) gave an arresting performance of the enigmatic Phantom, a creature marred by physical deformities and deeply wounded from a lifetime of rejection and cruelty. Bitter at the world, the Phantom haunts an old Paris theater and seeks revenge on those who fail to do his bidding. Quentin Oliver Lee as The Phantom of the Opera. Photo Credit Matthew Murphy. The dulcet-voiced Kaitlyn Davis performed her role as ingenue soprano Christine Daae, (a role also performed by Emma Grimsley and Eva Tavares) object of the Phantom's obsession, with the perfect balance of sweetness and ironclad determination, while Jordan Craig (Carmen), with his pleasant tenor voice, easily stepped into the role as the dashing Raoul, Christine's childhood friend and love interest.
Matt Mueller, On Milwaukee: What is provably new, however, is the cast, which refuses to let the lavish, gorgeously lit scenery steal the show. Davis is winning as the Phantom's star protégé Christine; the script only gives her evolution from diminutive ballet girl in the background to dynamite star a few bars in "Think of Me," but Davis makes her growing voice before your eyes and ears an enchantment - and her voice continues to soar from there.
Elaine Schmidt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Of the show's principals, Kaitlyn Davis is an exceptional Christine. She handles the significant demands of the role's vocal work with a lovely, light, clear sound and with constant control that crosses the footlights with complete ease. Trista Moldovan delivers a delightfully animated Carlotta, full of gorgeous vocal work. Quentin Oliver Lee's Phantom is theatrically powerful, if a bit uneven vocally. This touring production relies on a smaller ensemble of musicians in the pit than the original touring production did, folding together acoustic and synthesized sounds, although not always successfully. Conductor Jamie Johns, familiar to Milwaukee theater audiences from a significant body of work with Skylight Music Theatre and other local ensembles, won a wave of cheers as he took the podium.
Barb Burke, BroadwayWorld: But just like its title character, this show is all about the music - and this cast and it's live orchestra delivers. The orchestra, led by Jamie Johns, was outstanding and the voices of the entire cast were superb. This was showcased especially during the song Masquerade, in which 52 members of the cast and orchestra combine to perform showstopper that opens the second act. As Christine, Eva Tavares creates a convincing transformation from scared and grieving child to fearless woman. Her voice is clear and beautiful, and she especially shines during Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again.
Janine Weisman, The Newport Daily News: The sparks fly and the energy and voices soar in this production, which has been my favorite of the season so far at PPAC. There are 52 members of the cast and orchestra combined, including David Benoit from Somerset, Massachusetts, in the role of opera house co-manager Monsieur Firmin.
Bob Abelman, The News-Herald: This touring production, directed with precision and passion by Laurence Connor and his associate Seth Sklar-Heyn under the baton of Jamie Johns, is a remarkable piece of work. Its tragic love story is evergreen and still riveting. Webber's romantic score is still dazzling. Maria Björnson's original costumes - both for the staged opera scenes and those that take place behind the scenes - are still astounding. Scott Ambler's gorgeous choreography is kept fresh by dance captain Lily Rose Peck. And the talent on stage in lead, featured and supporting roles is fully invested and first-rate in all the ways that matter in epic musical theater.
Deborah Howell, KTWV: This is an exceptional treat. The supporting cast is terrific and the ballads and the orchestrations that belong to the Phantom are timeless. Do yourself a favor. If you've seen The Phantom before, treat your senses to another opulent helping; one can never get too much. If you haven't seen The Phantom before, you can thank me later.
Imaan Jalali, LAExcites.com: Derrick Davis has returned to the ongoing tour, and his Phantom not only fulfills expectations, he exceeds them in spades. Powerful and awe-striking in stature, he is the quintessential legendary figure whose unreciprocated love pushes him toward an inevitable destruction. Worthy of the price of admission alone is when Davis sings "The Music of the Night" with a symphonious and sympathetic timbre; it is marked by a poignant agony that completely fills the Segerstrom Hall. There is a sadness about The Phantom's fate that looms despite us objectively knowing that his actions are unprincipled by any measure.
Cheyne Nomura, BroadwayWorld: There aren't many faults of this visually arresting production. From both the on-stage and musical direction, to the costumes and set, to the performances, to even the set design, Phantom is truly a marvel to behold. And while the pacing slightly falters in some scenes---primarily the ones including the opera owners---the show quickly recovers in what it subsequently offers within the performances and set.
John Harding, DC Metro Theatre Arts: For over three decades now audiences have been falling in love with this show. But for those who have not, this production amounts to a near-perfect introduction. Phantom followers past, present and future should embrace the opportunity to call for tickets and not let such a thoroughly lovable Phantom slip away.
Justin Wan, Lincoln Journal Star: But the sets, props and technical wizardry simply set the stage for the mesmerizing performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical that, in director Laurence Connor's reimagining, brings a darkness to the enduring tragic love story while putting the focus on the humanity of its characters, not the spectacle. Chief among them, of course, is the Phantom, the disfigured, troubled musical genius who haunts the Parisian opera. And with the emotively gesturing hands of Derrick Davis, he becomes vulnerable and violent, romantic and ominous in a bravura combination of acting and singing.
Johnna Sisneros, The Daily Nebraskan: Overall, "The Phantom of the Opera" at the Lied Center for Performing Arts was a tremendously artistic performance of the beloved classic. Pure artistic manifestation oozed out of every crevice of the stage. Every aspect from musicality to design was executed with an acute perfection only created by expert performers and superb direction.
Chris Arneson, BroadwayWorld: And while the visuals are worth admission alone, the performances are top quality. Derrick Davis as the Phantom has a powerful voice and persona, giving the character heartwrenching complexities. Emma Grimsley's Christine has a great journey from timid chorus girl to exuberant leading lady, singing the role effortlessly. As Raoul, Jordan Craig is a classic leading man, virile and tenacious with a captivating voice.
Basil Considine, Twin Cities Arts: One of the ways that this cast shines is in punching up the comedy. The comic opera scenes - Andrew Lloyd Webber's parody of 18th-century French opera - have never been funnier than in the present incarnation, with the rapid-fire delivery used to poke fun at the genre's conceits. The letter scenes, too, have a brilliant and different flow to them, cascading the reveals and reactions to delightful effect. When the Intermission arrives, you scarcely comprehend how it's come so soon. Then, when the Act II rollercoaster gets rolling, there's nothing to do but strap in as things build to the final crescendo.
Rohan Preston, The Star Tribune: A charismatic and gifted performer, Davis returned Friday to the Twin Cities for the press opening of "Phantom" at the Orpheum Theatre, a venue he played two years ago in director Laurence Connor's refreshed staging of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 evergreen musical. Stalking the stage and throwing fire in his half-mask, the actor grabbed us immediately with a showstopping performance of the title song. His performance was like a pull-push magnet - both hypnotically commanding and eerily repulsive. Davis is blessed with an exquisite tenor that beautifully conveys the Phantom's hurts and hopes.
Kat Boogaard, The Post-Crescent: Overall the touring production is near flawless. There was a bit of a sound balance issue at the beginning of the show that made some of the opening lyrics difficult to decipher, but it was quickly sorted out and is a minuscule blemish on an otherwise outstanding performance. There's no denying that "The Phantom of the Opera" is a spectacle. But take away that striking top layer and you'll realize that the show's core is all about humanity. You'll go for the breathtaking production elements and that now-notorious chandelier, but you'll leave with a renewed perspective on what makes us who we are. After all, is it really the Phantom who's the antagonist ... or is it ultimately society who's to blame?
Meredith Kreisa, BroadwayWorld: Derrick Davis plays the titular role of the Phantom. His rich, full voice is appropriately haunting and captivating. Emma Grimsley plays Christine Daaé. While the role calls for a very wide vocal range by musical theater standards, Grimsley's voice soars up to the high notes so gracefully it makes them sound completely effortless. Jordan Craig plays Raoul. His crisp, clear voice and lighter spirit are in stark contrast to the Phantom. THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is a rich, indulgent treat. Even if you've seen the show dozens of times, it's hard to resist the undeniable appeal of this classic hit.
Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: The current long-serving Phantom, Davis, is right up there with the best of 'em: his work is richly toned, respectful of the material and the time-proven blend of sensual and macabre. His work has only deepened The new Christine, Emma Grimsley, sings the role perfectly well, although this young performer could do to asset herself more and command more focus. The Raoul, Jordan Craig, feels whiny, when he should be a non-complicated romantic destination for Christine, just so the Phantom can offer the opposite. And a tip of the mask to Chicago's own Rob Lindley, terrific as Monsieur Andre, the hapless theater owner who makes the mistake of thinking he runs the place. We all know it's the Phantom who owns the theater.
Catey Sullivan, Chicago Sun-Times: Davis gives a heroic performance. It's a hugely physical role, what with the Phantom's habit of lurking in underground lakes, dangling from eaves and forever thrashing between tyrannical grandiosity and abject self-loathing. The Phantom's thundering theme has rarely sounded better. Grimsley's soprano is all steel and silver: Crescendo-ing through the upper reaches of the treble clef is an athletic endeavor, and Grimsley pulls it off without sacrificing Christine's gossamer fragility. Their tango duet in "Past the Point of No Return" smolders in the wake of "Don Juan Triumphant," a Caligula-worthy bacchanal that includes a grotesquely glistening boar-on-a-spit and a peacock.