How often does theatre bring you to tears? In my experience, it’s the rare show that hits you right in the gut and nails every mark. “Dear Evan Hansen” is an excellent example of a show that does this effortlessly. But it’s difficult – for multiple reasons – for a revival Broadway show to recreate the magic of it’s predecessor.
However I can honestly tell you, Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular reimagining of “Phantom of the Opera”, landing in Memphis at the Orpheum Theatre this week, hit me the hardest of any musical I’ve seen this year. And yes, there were tears.
The show arrives with a bang. As the infamous chandelier drops and the crashing first few synths of the overture began, I knew Memphis was in for a real treat. So, too, did the rest of the audience. “I watched the 2004 film over the weekend in preparation of this,” one man told his date before the show. As the Phantom belted “Music of the Night” that same man sat with his jaw wide open. “Wow,” he whispered and sighed. I couldn’t help but feel similarly awestruck. This version of “Phantom” has a new set design by Paul Brown – including a really awesome sequence during “The Phantom of the Opera” as Christine and the Phantom journey down to the Labyrinth via a massive rotating cylinder- and heightened drama while still retaining the magic of the original.
Some brilliant casting was made with Derrick Davis in the role of the Phantom. He fully embodies the pain and loneliness of the Phantom, giving what could be a cliched prototype new life and dimensionality. His voice is also a pleasure to hear live. Equally impressive is Eva Tavares as Christine. Tavares has a gorgeous soprano voice, but clearly has a knack for pop music too – I’ve never heard “The Phantom of the Opera” sung quite like hers.
This touring version of Phantom is loud and gutsy. The orchestra does a fine job of cracking up the intensity with a beautiful score and one of the boldest overtures you’ll hear this year. As far as touring shows go, “Phantom of the Opera” is not to be missed. It’s a worthy addition to a thirty year history of the musical and one perfect for the holidays. You won’t be disappointed.
Tickets for the show can be purchased here. The show runs through December 10.