Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Boston

The Phantom of the Opera
National Tour
Review by Sarah Parro

Also see Josh's reviews of Exit the King and Men in Boats and Nancy's reviews of Merrily We Roll Along, and Constellations


The Cast
Photo by Alastair Muir
Now through October 1, Bostonians can experience some of Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic "music of the night," thanks to the year-long touring production of The Phantom of the Opera, one of the most famous musicals of Broadway (really, of all time). From the rock-opera performances to the complex staging requirements (theatre within the theatre, candlelit dungeon boat rides, a crashing chandelier), the bar is set high for any production, and any cast, to take on this musical theatre juggernaut that's perhaps as legendary as the Opera Ghost himself. This production happily holds its own. It'd been over a decade since I'd seen Phantom, not counting the 2004 film version (which no one should), and though the ominous organ theme is one of the most recognizable in musical theatre, I still got shivers when it erupted from the orchestra pit of the Boston Opera House.

I feel safe assuming you know the basic plot of the show, so I'll focus on the cast and production elements. Derrick Davis stars as the Phantom, and his booming voice fills the opera house and the role with power and emotion; Davis manages to convey brokenness and vulnerability within a character who must also be commanding and intimidating. His resume includes credits from Broadway (Mufasa in The Lion King), television ("Dancing with the Stars," "Live with Regis and Kelly"), and film (Can a Song Save Your Life) (my list is not comprehensive, only a sampling).

Of course, what would the Phantom be without his muse, Christine Daaé? This tour's female lead is played by Eva Tavares, originally from Vancouver with training from UBC's opera program and the Banff/Citadel Professional Theatre Program. Tavares's soprano voice is clear, bright, and strong, but it's not just her technical skill as a singer (and a dancer) that makes her a wonderful Christine. She takes the character from a shy ballet girl to a leading opera singer to a woman falling in love while coming to terms with her, shall we say, complex relationship with the Phantom, infusing great feeling and nuance each step of the way. Tavares's previous roles include Maria in West Side Story and Anne in A Little Night Music.

It's a talent all of the performers have: making these characters and this show, both of which are in many ways extreme and over the top (see above: candlelit dungeon boat rides), still feel human. While it's difficult at times to follow along with the lyrical gymnastics of some numbers ("Notes/Prima Donna" comes to mind), the performers convey the essentials with a look, or gesture, or particular style of delivery that somehow feels subtle from fifty feet away. Jordan Craig as Raoul, Trista Moldovan as the Carlotta we love to hate, and David Benoit and Edward Staudenmayer as the funny theatre managers wonderfully round out the primary cast. (Shout-out to Mark Emerson as the auctioneer who opens the show with gusto and intrigue.)

Audiences are also in for a sensory treat with the expertly crafted set and light design: from rotating set pieces with retractable staircases, to literal smoke and mirror effects that really feel like magic, to striking shadowplay, it's truly some of the best of Broadway.

The Phantom of the Opera runs through October 1, 2017, at the Boston Opera House, 539 Washington Street. Tickets, including group rates, are available at boston.broadway.com or by calling 866-523-7469. For more information on the tour, visit ustour.thephantomoftheopera.com.


Privacy Policy