Last Night: Phantom of the Opera at Orange County Performing Artscenter
Better Than: The movie version
I know I'm probably going to get a lot of shit for this but I've got to let you in on a little secret that I am now quite ashamed of. I never saw what the big deal was about Phantom of the Opera, especially after having only seen the movie version from 2004- sorry. But after Friday night I stand corrected and I can certainly see what all the fuss is about over this Andrew Lloyd Webber masterpiece and a half.
This production was flawlessly executed while including the audience to be part of the fun - whether they wanted to or not. The beginning sequence began with an auction taking place...human skulls, a toy monkey, and yes - the chandelier. I'm talkin' the chandelier! The auctioner's voice grows more and more tricky and suspenseful until he yells, "Ladies and Gentleman!" Two assistants violently rip the covering from that wicked chandelier. FLASH! EXPLOSION! I lost my vision!
Cue: Phantom of the Opera opening theme song.
My sister looked over at me and chuckled as I was blinking madly, trying to regain full use of my eyes and asked if I was ok.
"I'm fine but I feel as though I just saw the face of God in the form of an angry chandelier."
After rubbing my eyes, I glanced over and up. There it was - flashing and rattling as if it were possessed - the chandelier being hoisted above those of us seated in in the orchestra section. Some looked up amazed, some slightly fearful - as I watched the slow, dramatic ascension I couldn't help but wonder, "If that thing landed on me, I'd never have to work again."
Thankfully, it held fast. Probably better.
Phantom of the Opera. The title alone conjures up an honest to goodness facination, one that involves the theatre world itself. How curious to think that there could be a mysterious figure looming about in the rafters - a shadow that kills and dissapears on cue if his requests are not met.
The Paris Opera House has some catacombs and inside those catacombs lurks a man ( a wonderful Jason Mills ) who has been shunned by society (not to mention his own mother!) due to the freaky appearance of his face. It is under this opera house that his presence culminates and feeds upon the goings on that take place on the stage above. When a young soprano named Christine (Sarah Jean Ford is amazing!) takes the stage he is struck and immediately falls in love. It is at this point that the mysterious man, a.k.a. the phantom demands that Christine be given leading roles, much to the dismay of the previous diva, Carlotta (Kimilee Bryant owns it!).
This performance left me in awe at the array of colors and brilliant stage work. My favorite performance being Masquarade, as every unique costume pranced and paraded around in absolute perfection. Every burst of flames, every fake explosion and gun shot left me dumbfounded and impressed beyond belief. Others around me were moved as well, including the individual in front of me who screamed at the top of their lungs whenever there were fireworks or gun shots that bursted into the audience. With seats this good I wouldn't need to pluck my eyebrowns for a while. Heather Cho - you're darling.
Trust me, don't hesistate to catch this incredible production and I wholeheartedly promote the idea of getting orchestra seating. You will definitely be involved.
Personal Bias: I love the theatre, don't you? Well, you should.
Random Detail: If you are sitting in the orchestra section, do not look directly at the chandelier before they uncover it in the first scene! Lest you wish to see God!
By The Way: The lines at both restrooms were to kingdom come - men and women's. Keep an eye on the champagne intake.
Phantom of the Opera. Orange County Performing Artscenter. March 26th - April 19, 2008. 714.556.2121. www.ocpac.org