As musical plays go, _Phantom_ has pretty rudimentary plotting and a fairly formulaic musical score, and its story may seem incomplete to those who haven’t read the novel by Leroux. However, its special effects, magical illusions and pyrotechnics remain top notch. The Phantom was a fixture in mainstream Toronto theatre in the 1990s, and it was the first professional production I ever saw. Last Wednesday afternoon, I came back to watch it a second time, and Silverlotus saw it for the first time.
It’s been ten years, but I could tell the differences. There are the obvious variations between watching a matinee vs. the night show I remember; for example, some parts were hammed up for laughs (Hannibal struggling to climb up the elephant) to the delight of the schoolkids.
Of interest is also how the role of the brilliant but disfigured Phantom was played. In the 1990s, Colm Wilkinson played the Opera Ghost with a smooth, melodic malevolence while today’s O.G., John Cudia, interpreted the man as one barely sane and seething with rage, with his motions jerky and lines shouted rather than sung.
By the way, does anyone ever root for the Phantom over Raoul? While ugly and homicidal, the Phantom is a brilliant musician, illusionist and inventor. Raoul is just a rich pretty boy who, in the climatic scene, heroically sings, “I would make her lie to you, to save me.” I’m just saying.