Review: ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ at The Kennedy Center Opera House

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In fact, a perfect opera!

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera dazzled the Kennedy Center’s Opera House this Friday, bringing the beloved and longest running Broadway musical to the delight of DC’s appreciative full house as part of its brand-new North American tour.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA 3 - The Company performs Masquerade. Photo by Alastair Muir.
The Company performs “Masquerade.” Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Inspired by the French novel Le Fantome de L’Opera by Gaston Leroux, Phantom is penned by British theater colossus Andrew Lloyd Webber, who has also written major musical hits including Cats, Evita, and Jesus Christ Superstar. Coupled with lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe, Phantom tells the dramatic tale of a deformed, tortured musical prodigy living in the bowels of Paris’s Opera Populaire who terrorizes its inhabitants, until he falls in love with a young ingénue soprano, Christine, whom he takes under his musical tutelage and emotional and mental captivation. It’s riveting story plot coupled with its unforgettable mix of classical and rock opera musical numbers have made it the longest running musical in Broadway history, coming up on its 28th anniversary this year.

For a long-time fan who has seen the original production at its Broadway home and on tour no less than four times, Cameron Mackintosh’s new production is truly an inspired reinvention of this work of art. It is as if one is experiencing Phantom for the first time visually, while retaining the very best of the music and vocal stylistics that make it one of the most challenging productions to cast. For it is no small feat.

Based on its story premise, the vocal roles are operatic in nature – by that, meaning difficult, widely ranged, and requiring classical training. Chris Mann, originally of The Voice fame, originates the Phantom of this new tour with an all-new look and brings to life the haunting, powerful voice of the tortured soul his soulful solo “The Music of the Night” and that seductive, edge-of-your seat climax “The Point of No Return.”

Katie Travis (Christine))and Chris Mann (The Phantom). Photo by Matthew Murphy.
Katie Travis (Christine)) and Chris Mann (The Phantom). Photo by Matthew Murphy.

His Christine is played by Kaitlyn Davis in this performance, a surely perfect Christine in her shining soprano imbued with innocence, fear, and passion in her main solos “Think of Me”, “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again”, and of course, the titular duet with the Phantom, “The Phantom of the Opera”.

Storm Lineberger is the ardent Viscount Raoul who completes this tragic love triangle, and emerges most brilliantly in his love song with Christine “All I Ask of You.”

The remainder of the talented cast are brilliant in the chorus numbers including “Masquerade” and “Prima Donna.” Anne Kanengeiser is stunning as the mysterious Madame Giry. Jacquelynne Fontaine is hilarious as the Prima Donna soprano Carlotta Giudicelli. David Benoit as Monsieur Firmin and Price Waldman  as Monsieur André have great chemistry together and are terrific in their rendition of ”Prima Donna” where they are joined by Kanengeiser, Fontaine, Benoit and Waldman and their four glorious voices blend together harmoniously.

Anne Kanengeiser. Photo Matthew Murphy
Anne Kanengeiser (Madame Giry). Photo by Matthew Murphy

The most breathtaking new set, lighting and design have transformed the stage of Phantom into something entirely unexpected. With clever use of a multiform cylindrical moving central piece, much more movement, smoothness of transition, and subtle staging has been added to the production. All of our beloved Phantom staging moments – for it is a show that is known for its pizazz and special effects – have been remastered and recreated, and coupled with a few specific costume refreshes and directorial edits, it was truly watching an entirely new show.  

New fans, come be dazzled by this majestic opulence that you will not find in any other musical theater piece. For returning fans, this new production of The Phantom of The Opera is a ‘Must-See’ for anyone who adores the story and most importantly, the timeless music of the night.

Running Time: Approximately two hours, with a  20-minute intermission.

The Phantom of the Opera plays through August 20, 2016 at The Kennedy Center’s Opera House – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For more information, call the box office at (202) 467-4600 or (800) 444-1324, or purchase them online.

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Emily Cao
Emily hails from Anchorage, AK and is an avid theater-lover, filmgoer, musician, history buff, and general extoller of the arts. A graduate of Duke University (BS Economics, BA Psychology), Emily has enjoyed over a decade of stage and musical productions foremost as an appreciative audience member, but also as a member of pit and opera orchestras as a musician. Emily's love of the theater arts encompasses all variety of modern and classic Broadway musicals, notable Shakespearean plays, and the great Romantic operas, to name a few, though her long-time secret obsession has been Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. Emily is currently working in government consulting in Arlington, and is a photography enthusiast and self-proclaimed Anglophile in her spare time. As a newcomer to the area, Emily is thrilled to have the opportunity to explore DC's vibrant performing arts scene with DCMetroTheaterArts.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Our daughter is in love with the movie staring Gerard Buter and watches it weekly and knows most of the words to the songs. She is 3:) my husband took us to see the Phantom of the opera at the Kennedy Center this summer. While the opera was delightful I was disappointed to learn that they didn’t capture the vulnerability nor the loVe and obsession shared between Chrinstine and the Phantom. The phantom seemed angry and bad. In the movie they captured the sadness as well as the intense love he seemed to feel for Christine. I kept my heart open and waited but the love story did t come through for me. The final scene in the movie was so very very intense and heartbreaking I was saddened to see that they weren’t able to convey this emotion. Thier should have been tears shed and I saw none? I will say that if you haven’t seen the movie you will have loved this opera!! The stage presence was beautiful and the singers were so very talented ? The show was enjoyable❤️

    • I do agree with you … the love – the despair … were not present. Mann’s interpretation of the Phantom, in my opinion, was harsh – angry – punishing.

      The overall production, however, was captivating.

    • See the original version! Cameron Mackintosh’s version was nice, but it is not Phantom. See the original Andrew Lloyd Webber version, currently on Broadway. After seeing the one at the Kennedy Center this summer, I need to go to New York to watch the original to restore my Phantom equilibrium. I did not realize it was a different version.

      • I firmly believe every theatregoer should check out the show they are about to attend on the theatre’s website and google it. There is no excuse not to have not known that this was a new production. And what’s wrong with seeing something new? I know I am tired of watching the same version over and over. And I liked this version much better. More intimate. Visually stunning. Great singing. More human portrayal of the characters. I could understand the story better.

  2. I was thrilled to have seen the production with Chris Mann as the Phantom. Thirteen years ago was my first time seeing Phantom on Broadway. My experience at the Kennedy Center was wonderful as also the fact it was a totally surprising Birthday gift from my son and fiancé.

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