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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Phantom of The Opera Still Wows at 29

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 9:30 AM

The Company performs Masquerade - ALASTAIR MUIR
  • Alastair Muir
  • The Company performs Masquerade

Anyone who's familiar with Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera knows that it’s one of the most memorable productions in the history of Broadway. Originally written in 1986 by Webber with lyrics by Charles Hart, the musical is based off of Gaston Leroux’s 1911 novel of the same name. And after a wildly successful 29-year run, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who couldn’t pull of few lines of “Music of the Night” out of thin air, or who couldn’t picture a dark Phantom dramatically unmasked in front of an opulent Baroque opera house.

It’s the quintessential musical. But there’s so much more to Phantom than the ornate sets or as series of impossibly high, flashy notes.

click to enlarge Katie Travis and Chris Mann - MATTHEW MURPHY
  • Matthew Murphy
  • Katie Travis and Chris Mann
“The story itself is relevant still,” says actor Chris Mann. To Mann — who plays the role of the Phantom in the touring cast of SHN’s current production — the character from the very beginning of the 20th century isn’t so different from a person living in contemporary times. “[The Phantom] is a man who has been bullied his entire life, who was driven into hiding as a result, and to violence as a result,” he explains. “But ultimately, all he’s looking for is love and acceptance.”

“I think that’s extremely relevant,” Mann says. “It’s why so many people in the audience relate to the Phantom, having dealt with rejection in their own lives or feeling that sort of hurt in the past.”

This need for love and acceptance is a theme that never really loses its pertinence. And of course, the little bits of added splendor never hurt. New additions include sets by designer Paul Brown, costumes by Maria Björnson, and lighting by Paule Constable — all of whom just happen to by Tony Award winners. So while the show might be over two decades old, the basic themes of the human condition coupled with these collaboration from current designers make for a production that’s anything but stuffy.

“The story holds true 27 years later. And it helps that we have the original Andrew Lloyd Webber score — which is so glorious,” says Mann. ‘Whether you have the whole thing memorized, or you’ve never seen it, you probably know the entire score. It’s just very iconic.”

Phantom of the Opera, through Oct. 4 at the Orpheum Theater, 1192 Market, $50-$225; 888-746-1799 or shnsf.com. 


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Laura Jaye Cramer

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