Unmasking ‘Phantom’ at the Fox

“The Phantom of the Opera” at the Fox Theatre was, in a word, fantastic. As far as live performances go, this one was mind-blowing.

Set against the backdrop of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s epically ethereal soundtrack, the new tour takes a beloved classic and ushers it into 2015 – with the help of captivating performances and a set that is out of this world.

Based on the 1910 novel of the same name by Gaston Leroux, the musical tells the story of Christine Daaé and the phantom, Erik. The opera house where Christine sings is said to be haunted by a phantom, and Christine attracts the phantom’s attention.

Also vying for her affections is Christine’s childhood sweetheart, Raoul. The question remains, however: Is the phantom an abominable monster, or is he the angel of music Christine believes him to be?

Not only is the show dramatic and gorgeous, it imparts wisdom: Two of the most important takeaways are that appearances can be deceptive, and true love is anything but easy.

Katie Travis portrayed Christine Daaé, while the phantom was played by Chris Mann, of  “The Voice” fame. Both of them sang amazingly.

They revitalized songs, including “Think of Me,” “Angel of Music” and “The Phantom of the Opera,” lending them a fresh sense of excitement.

In a behind-the-scenes interview by producers of “Phantom,” Mann said, “Phantom is a man, who lives in the bowels of the Paris opera house. He’s not necessarily a magician, he’s not a hypnotist, he’s in love, in a lot of pain, and he’s just dealing with all of those things. … It’s a role I’ve always dreamed of playing; it’s a character I’ve always identified with.”

“It’s so much fun to sing these melodies that everyone knows. … Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music is so iconic, it’s so emotional; he pulls at your heartstrings, he makes you laugh, he makes you cry – it’s a pleasure and an honor to get to bring his music to life.”

In another interview by Norfolk TV, Travis said, “[In] this new production, first of all, aesthetically, the set design is different, very colorful … very vibrant, very intricate in [its] design.”

“Same story, same music,” she continued, “but we’ve sort of taken a realistic approach with this story that can be kind of be a little magical. You know, instead of instead of the Phantom hypnotizing Christine, she makes these decisions, she makes the decision to be with him … and she is smart. She’s trying to figure out where to go next, where her career will go, what kind of person she wants to be with romantically for the rest of her life.”

Travis definitely delivered a top-notch, convincing performance.

One of the surreal highlights of the musical was the set. Everything, from costume design to decorations, was visually stunning. A particularly memorable scene was when Christine walked down the stairs to meet the Phantom because of the way the stairs wrapped around the set. The giant chandeliers shaking rapidly above the audience created another spectacular moment to the show.

All in all, “The Phantom of the Opera” is doubtlessly a musical to cherish, and the new edition made it even more lifelike. Full of highs and lows, this rollercoaster of a musical is an unforgettable ride.

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