It's been more than 10 years since Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera was last seen on a Tulsa stage, and Celebrity Attractions has been excited all season about bringing it back this year. Hyped as "the world's most haunting love story" and celebrating 15 years on the stage, Phantom is the classic American musical, more accessible now than ever due in large part to the 2004 film adaptation.
So, selling tickets should be no problem, right? Apparently, wrong. Whether it's because they've seen it before or because the economy is so poor that their pockets are empty, theatergoers aren't snagging tickets as quickly as anticipated as evidenced by Celebrity Attractions' calls to Urban Tulsa Weekly asking for press on the show to help spark ticket sales.
We obliged, not so much because they asked, but because we feel all live theater is a valuable asset to our city and should be appreciated and enjoyed by the people who live here. With an almost 12-year span since the last live, local production of Phantom, there's a huge generation gap of folks who've never seen the show. And no, the movie doesn't count.
Sure, when you watch the film, you get the timeless love story, you get the unmistakable soundtrack, but you miss so much more. Live, the show is magnanimous and unparallel to any other musical theater production.
Phantom of the Opera is based on Le Fantôme de l'Opéra, a French novel by Gaston Leroux, thought to be inspired by George du Maurier's Trilby, a novel based on events related to the Paris Opera House, instigated by tales of an opera house ghost.
In the play, the chandelier is the centerpiece, involved in a mystery at the opera house, one that was never fully explained. During a rehearsal of Hannibal, strange happenings force the ingénue to quit and another, by the name of Christine, to take her place. Raoul, the opera house's new patron, takes immediately to Christine, remembering her as his childhood friend.
As Raoul begins to court Christine, the Phantom of the Opera, who is also in love with the girl, grows angry at this new competition for Christine's affection. He also serenades her, taking her through underground tunnels as he sings to her. At one point, she pulls back the white mask that covers half of his face and, seeing his deformity (one the audience does not see), flees from him in fear.
He chases her, pleading with her to understand that he simply wants to be like everyone else. They exchange a moment of understanding, but later, as Christine confesses her love to Raoul, the Phantom overhears their exchange and is heartbroken. His rage overtakes him and he begins to attack them both. He forces Christine to choose between them; as she makes her choice, the Phantom feels human love for the first time and releases them both on the condition that his existence remain a secret.
What's more impressive than the story, the beautiful music Webber composed, is the staging and costumes that come only with the live production. The set--the Parisian opera house--is moveable and elaborate and seems to have a life of its own and is a character in itself, one that the production would fail without. The chandelier in the center almost breathes, and the events that happen around it seem almost caused by it. At the play's conclusion, the events that have taken place at the opera house seem almost like a dream, and as one leaves the theater, one is left with an haunting but poignant feeling, a feeling you don't get from a movie.
Harold prince directs Phantom of the Opera, and Marni Raab stars as Christine, Greg Mills as Raoul and Richard Todd Adams as the Phantom. Raab and Adams are both new additions to the cast, only recently joining the U.S. tour.
Phantom of the Opera plays at the Chapman Music Hall of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, 110 E. 2nd St., now through July 13. Celebrity Attractions is hoping to boost ticket sales with a Fourth of July special. Tickets for remaining mezzanine and orchestra seats are only $44 for July 3-6 performances. Those tickets can cost up to $65, so if you've never sent the show before, now would be the time. It is recommended, because of the length of the show, for audiences eight and over. For more information, visit www.tulsapac.com or www.celebrityattractions.com.
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