BWW Review: PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at Synetic Theater

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BWW Review: PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at Synetic Theater
Irina Tsikurishvili as Phantom, L to R: Eliza Smith (ensemble) Maryam Najafzada as Christine, Janine Baumgardner (ensemble) Rachael Small as Carlotta. Photo by Johnny Shryock.

Synetic Theater is known for bringing their audiences on a journey through creative movement and dancing. Without a word spoken or a note sung, Synetic manages to capture the audience by putting movement in the spotlight while telling familiar tales. The Tsikurishvilis have now coupled a beloved tale with a creative twist - Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera. Synetic Theater's production is as hauntingly masterful as the story itself and its all due to all overwhelming success of all parties involved.

Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera is the story of the Opera House Ghost. The Phantom falls for Christine. In this production however, the Phantom falls for Christine because of their connection in art, namely, dance. While it is a creative twist, once you get over the relationship not being romantic but rather the Phantom can see herself, her past, her craft, and her love of dance through Christine, you are immediately in it. Through a journey of self discovery and a built teacher-student relationship through dance, The Phantom takes Christine under her wing and under the Opera House. Of course adding in Raoul, who desperately wants to marry Christine and the boisterous Carlotta, the story never ceases to entertain. Will Christine and the Phantom make it out of the burning Opera House? Does Christine decide to finally accept Raoul's proposal? These are amongst a few intriguing questions.

The success of this production is due to three parts working together so well that the end product is one sure to impress. The first part is the cast. Led by Synetic Theater's Founding Associate Artistic Director and the production's Choreographer Irina Tsikurishvili (The Phantom) is an exquisite force of nature every moment she is on the stage. Other standounts include the excellent Maryam Najafzada (Christine), and the talented Lottie Guidi (Younger Phantom). Jacob Thompson (Raoul), Rachael Small (Carlotta), and Delbis Cardona (Mon Charmin) give extraordinary performances as well. Rounding out the ensemble are Eliza Smith, Julia Holland, Janine Baumgardner, Thomas Beheler, Scean Aaron, and Joshua Cole Lucas. The cast not only gives Great Performances but they work so well together to create the exact journey that triumphed.

The second part that must be recognized is the cooperation of the intricate direction and concept by Synetic Founding Associate Artistic Director Paata Tsikurishvili. Mr. Tsikurishvili's vision was not only creative and unique but also was very well executed. Together with Irina Tsikurishvili's exceptional choreography the show was raised to new heights. Perhaps one of the most illuminating moments in the show was when The Phantom finally danced with Christine in which she saw her younger self in. Ms. Tsikurishvili's stunning choreography coupled with her radiant performance along with Ms. Nahafzada was a moment that truly shined.

While designers and production staff will be acknowledged in part three, the entirety of the team's efforts came together very nicely. Scene transitions, use of projection as another layer of movement, and set movement were all sharp, concise and well-polished. Every transition felt like you were on the journey with the characters.

Aside from the already acknowledged performers and director and choreographer it's imperative that the design team is recognized for their achievements with this production. Daniel Pinha (Scenic Designer), Erik Teague (Costume Designer), Brian S. Allard (Lighting Designer), and Patrick W. Lord (Projections Designer) all contribute the most of their craft to enhance this unique theatrical experience. Each design element is creative in its own right, but the way all of the elements come together makes way for a visually stunning end result that aids the already impressive choreography.

It was quite clear that the choreography was assisted by some intense fight choreography by Vato Tsikurishvili. The most memorable scene being when Moncharmin and Raoul attempt to follow Christine and end up in the Phantom's lair. Mr. Tsikurshvili truly crafted a nail-biting journey of stunts and fights that left you at the edge of your seat.

Another element that made the show shine the way it did was the intriguing original music and sound design by Konstantine Lortkipanidze. Being that the music is the only thing you hear throughout the duration of the show, it's important that the music too, helps tell the story and aids the performers in their storytelling through movement craft. Mr. Lortkipanidze has composed music that successfully aided this task.

I have wanted to see a Synetic show for a while and must say that it was worth the wait. The show was not just a performance but it was a visually stunning experience. I was weary of how much I would understand through movement, but am impressed by how every moment was clearly speaking volumes of words. With movement and design elements at its core, Phantom of the Opera soars.This show is sure to haunt long after you depart the theatre.

Run Time: 2 hours with one 15 minute intermission.

This is an all-new, movement-driven adaptation running at Synetic Theater (1800 S. Bell St in Crystal City) through February 29. For tickets please visit, or call the Box Office at (703) 824-8060.

BWW Review: PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at Synetic Theater
Irina Tsikurishvili as Phantom. Photo by Johnny Shryock.

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From This Author Brandon Horwin