BWW Review: PHANTOM at Hale Centre Theatre is Magnificently Opulent
Maury Yeston's PHANTOM on Hale Centre Theatre's Centre Stage has been cast, designed, and directed to magnificence.
PHANTOM (music and lyrics by Maury Yeston, book by Arthur Kopit) is based on the famous novel by Gaston Leroux. Written before Andrew Lloyd Webber's more famous version, it lost the opportunity to be performed on Broadway when Webber's show was announced, but this show and its more traditional score has earned legions of fans over the years, and for good reason. It brings a deep humanity to the story amidst many twists and turns.
When the silver-voiced Christine Daae arrives at the Paris Opera House, she is taught by a mysterious voice teacher who always wears a mask and calls himself the Phantom. After new managers take over the theatre and encroach on his sanctuary in the catacombs of the building, the Phantom begins to wreak havoc, all the while drawing closer to his protege.
Preston Yates (double cast with Austin Smith) makes the Phantom a character the audience feels empathy for. His rich, soothing vocals are stunning, again proving he is among Utah's best musical theatre performers.
Lisa Zimmerman as Christine (double cast with Jennifer Neff) sings gloriously in a style that wonderfully straddles the line between opera and legit musical theatre. When she and Yates sing together, they bring a warmth and power that is unparalleled.
Raina Thorne as La Carlotta (double cast with Mandi Barrus) and B.J. Whimpey as Alain Cholet (double cast with Patrick Kintz) steal the show whenever they are onstage with performances that are larger than life but never over the top.
David Weekes is heartbreaking as Gerard Carriere (double cast with John Philpott). He and Cleveland McKay Nicoll as Count Philippe de Chandon (double cast with Stephen Faulk) both bring strong singing and acting abilities to their key supporting roles (although it's not quite clear why the Count speaks in a French accent).
The direction by John J. Sweeney is clear and purposeful, the ballet-infused choreography by Jennifer Hill Barlow is intricate and flawlessly executed, and the musical direction by Anne Puzey makes the complex songs feel effortless.
The opulent set design by Kacey Udy, which showcases a colossal falling chandelier, cohesively navigates both the lightness and darkness of the opera house. The extremely strong lighting design by Michael Gray works in tandem with the set to create unforgettable images that transport the audience to the Phantom's world.
The lavish costumes by Kelsey Nichols and hair and makeup design by Trisha Ison (with the exception of some overly garish party wear) fit in their lush surroundings perfectly.
Experience a new, more human side to the story you know so well through Hale Centre Theatre's magnificent, emotional production of a beautifully crafted musical.
PHANTOM plays through November 9, 2019. For tickets, call the box office at 801-984-9000 or visit www.hct.org.
Photo Credit: L-R Preston Yates (Phantom) and Lisa Zimmerman (Christine)