Saturday, November 2, 2019

Angel of Music (Phantom of the Opera, April 2018)

How to even begin this blog post. The Phantom of the Opera is a classic and a staple to Broadway. Currently the longest-running show, having just celebrated its 30th anniversary, everyone has heard of something from this show. This show was a technologically advanced show for it's time and has opened the pathway for how current shows are created technical wise. This is a timeless show and one that I always recommend for anyone to see if they are experiencing their first show on Broadway.  I don't know about anyone else but I always get chills listening to the overture, whether it's at the show with the chandelier being lifted to the ceiling, or when it comes on my iPod. 

I have been lucky enough to see this show three times. The first was with Hugh Panaro as the Phantom shortly after the production celebrated its 25th anniversary. The second was with Norm Lewis and Sierra Boggess as the Phantom and Christine. And finally this past time, in April with Ben Crawford in his second performance as the Phantom, Kaley Ann Vorhees, and Rodney Ingram, who left the production at the end of April. 

This show is one of my favorite musicals, partially because it is one of the rare shows that has ballet in it. I was so excited to read the announcement of Ben Crawford as the new Phantom, but wanted to wait for him to settle into the role. However, the plans were changed when Rodney announced his departure with only two weeks left to see him. So my roommate and I purchased tickets the night before and caught the Tuesday evening performance. 

Before I go into more details about Ben Crawford as the Phantom, I just want so say that he is the first replacement of the Phantom I have loved since Hugh Panaro left the production in 2014. Nothing against previous Phantoms, but I do have personal expectations of who performs the role after seeing Hugh Panaro and hearing John Owen-Jones in various promotions during his multiple runs in the London production. 

I went into the show without high expectations for Ben because it was his second performance and it is such a demanding role physically and vocally, which takes a couple of weeks to really start to feel comfortable in it and work out all the kinks. However, once his voice came over the speakers during "Angel of Music", I was sold. Vocally, he is very well matched for the role. His "Music of the Night" was great and he hit all the big notes with such ease, as if he's been singing the song for much longer. 

In terms of movement for the role, it did look like his body was still getting use to the direction and choreography, which is understandable, but he really shined in his "Final Lair". I honestly don't think I have ever been as captivated by a performer in that scene as I was with his. As the Phantom, he went through multiple emotions that lead to him finally releasing Christine back to Raoul and wanting to be left alone.

Another aspect of the show that I loved was how well Rodney Ingram and Ben Crawford's voices matched each other. I noticed during the first act that their range was pretty similar and the way they sung the score and I was so excited to hear them singing together in "Wandering Child". I was not disappointed. Their voices melded together so well and the trio themselves made for a great harmony of voices for the song.

Rodney's Raoul was on the more caring side of how he treats Christine and wants to help her from the Phantom. From the moment he reenters Christine's life, he shows that he wants to be there for her and help her with any struggles in her life. He's not trying to overpower the Phantom, but is just wanting Christine to be free of the hold that the Phantom has over her.

Kaley Ann Voorhees as Christine was lovely. She showed no effort or struggle when singing the score. We also found out that she was technically supposed to be starting her vacation the day we saw it and they had to call her in to cover for the principal Christine. It was her first show with Ben Crawford and they worked together seamlessly. She was also able to take us on Christine's journey and show the struggle she had with the Phantom and with Raoul.

This show is a classic show to see on Broadway and is definitely a go to show for any tourists coming to the city for the first time. I believe that everyone should see Phantom if they get the chance because it has a huge influence on the musicals that have been created in the past twenty years. There is something so special about going back to see a classic show that is still in it's original run, with the original choreography, set and costume design in the midst of seeing shows that are premiering for the first time or shows that are being revived into a new life. This show will continue to be one of my top favorite shows to either see or listen to.

The Phantom of the Opera is currently playing at The Majestic Theatre on 44th street between 7th and 8th Avenue.

*Disclaimer: Kaley Ann Voorhees left the show in October 2019

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