The Phantom of the Opera

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By Andrew Lloyd Webber (music and book), Charles Hart (lyrics), and Richard Stilgoe (book and additional lyrics). Directed by Harold Prince. A Cameron Mackintosh and Really Useful Theatre Company presentation. At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre until August 27

You don't really need me to tell you anything about The Phantom of the Opera. It's the longest-running show on Broadway, and either you love it and can't wait to see it again, or you've heard so much about it that you're dying to see for yourself, or you already know you don't need to see it.

I was a Phantom virgin until the other evening, so I can't compare this production to others, but I'm guessing it's true to the spirit, if you could call it that, of the work. And while Andrew Lloyd Webber's music is sometimes pretty, I blame those cheesy horror-movie chords used to announce each appearance of the Phantom for the nasty earache that woke me up later that night.

Anyway, you know the story: there's a ghost haunting a Paris opera house, he's in love with Christine Daaé, and he arranges her stratospheric rise from chorus girl to leading lady. While Christine is drawn to the gift of his music, she gets a “no”  feeling from his mask and the dark, Hades-like world he inhabits, and runs away. He causes more havoc in the opera. Oh, and there's a chandelier. An opening-night glitch gave the big lamp a passing resemblance to Audrey 2, the man-eating plant from Little Shop of Horrors. Yikes!

The human leads in this mounting fare better than the light fixture. Jennifer Hope Wills deftly captures Christine's ambivalence and vulnerability; she also sings beautifully. The honey-voiced Adam Monley makes Raoul, Christine's above-ground lover, a warm and reassuring presence. D.?C. Anderson is a charmingly befuddled Monsieur André, one of the opera house's owners, and Patti Davidson-Gorbea is compelling as Madame Giry, the prim ballet mistress who knows more than she lets on. John Cudia truly haunts the theatre as the Phantom, with a physically and vocally athletic performance revealing the human frailty that drives his superhuman obsession.

If you're looking for subtlety, you probably already know that Phantom is not the show for you. But if you're looking for a big, glitzy spectacle, you won't be disappointed.