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'Phantom of the Opera' a new haunting missing some of that Magic


SHN closes their 2014 - 2015 season with the longest running musical on Broadway PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Some call it the “Crown Jewel” of musicals since its 29 year history and 1986 debut on London's West End to New York in 1988. Andrew Lloyd Webber current production is now on stage at San Francisco's Orpheum Theater. Back in 1993 The Phantom called San Francisco its home for five years at the Curran Theatre, making it the longest run for a Nor Cal stage. SHN had revamped its Geary street venue to house the show including new ramps and rooms for the Phantom to vanish too. This new tour version has been scaled down to fit any stage, but still has a darker set and the infamous chandelier designed by Paul Brown, who referenced his new set based on the original novel.

This 2015 Phantom produced by Cameron Mackintosh, is a darker version missing some of the original charm. Mackintosh told the LA times "it's more a musical play - a gothic musical play”. Directed by Laurence Connor who directed Mackintosh’s Les Mis and Miss Saigon said “I wanted people to realize that he is complicated and extremely dangerous, - Even though his heart is pure for Christine and he has such love for her...he is too dangerous to be with her." Michelle Crawford originated the Phantom on the West End and on Broadway while in his mid 40’s. The new Phantoms, Chris Mann, Allan Snyder and Travis Taylor all share the role while here in San Francisco and they are all younger men. Chris Mann who opened the SF run spoke with KGO TV and told them "Whether you are a fan of the theater or not, you probably know the entire music body of the Phantom of the Opera. That's something that's fun. When the lights go down every night, when that chandelier reveals itself, people are excited.” Mann who is in his early 30’s was a contestant on NBC’s THE VOICE. He has a powerful voice alongside his Christine, played by the talented soprano Katie Travis.

The story is a classic beauty and beast tale, that involves a disfigured man who lives below the Paris Opera House. The Phantom falls for a chorus girl Christine, in the production and makes sure she gets the lead. He hypnotizes her to sing, and threatens the new owners and opera stars with disaster if his own opera is not performed with his Christine in the lead. A friend from childhood Raoul, sees her in a performance and falls for her, which of course sets off the Phantom for some fun ghosting. Its a classic tale of forbidden love.

Connor’s revamp production includes a new design team, and as he did for his production of Les Mis, be brought a new set by Brown that is the based on a turntable, that takes us to the Phantoms lair and back stage at the Opera House. Some projections are used, but not overdone, yet the elephant who appears in the opening “Hannibal” number is just a flat that scoots out for a short hello. Sad, many local reviewers have commented on the chandelier an elephant and its lack of sparkle. I too have to admit I miss the elephant, who at one time was turned around by stage hands to reveal crew members inside the prop having a smoke. The new 2015 chandelier spews flames and sparklers as it rises to this home above the Opera set, it reminded me of a camp shtick of a rock concert. The late Maria Björnson’s original costumes are wonderfully still part of this production, bright and colorful for the chorus and dark and capes for the Phantom. Gone is the staircase for the second acts “Masquerade”, but designer Brown uses mirrors to open up the number and Scott Ambler’s choreography is always elegant.

Chris Mann and Katie Travis are paired well, but the glow is gone, and Travis skips a beat with Storm Lineberger as Raoul. The other roles including Morgan Cowling as Christine’s friend Meg a ballet dancer was excellent. The Orchestration is the best part of this PHANTOM, the classic songs “Angel of Music”, “The Music of The Night” and “All I Ask of You” are impressive and music director Dale Rieling pit brings that rich organ to life for the grand appearances of the Phantom. At 2.5 hours the show moves along, and if nothing else is eye candy with all the elegant set moves and chorus numbers. The boat ride with Christine and the Phantom still is fog filled but gone are all the candles and bridges. The best part of the new set is the wooden magical staircase that appears and disappears as the Phantom takes Christine into his Lair. Yet as other locals have mentioned - I too miss the elephant and the crashing glass chandelier. This PHANTOM as always, asks the producers for his regular seat in box five, and you can see him their til Oct 4th at the Orpheum Theatre. A wonderful fall treat, and remember SHN offers a great 40.00 rush ticket on show nights only - they go on sale 2 hours prior to curtain.

Cameron Mackintosh new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's


Directed by Laurence Connor

continues through Oct. 4 at the Orpheum Theatre,

1192 Market St., San Francisco. Tickets are $45-$210.

Call 888-746-1799 or visit

Tue, Wed, & Thu evening performances

Mezzanine seats start at $60

Orchestra seats start at $80


A limited number of $40 Limited View Orchestra rush tickets will be available beginning 2 hours prior to curtain at the SHN Orpheum Theatre Box Office. Tickets are subject to availability. Cash only. 2 per person. Rush tickets are void if resold.

References *LA TIMES *KGO TV

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