Magical "Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway
Magical "Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway
Theatre critic, blogger, member of International Association of Theatre Critics (AICT-IATC), vice president of international union of theatre critics, General editor of theatrelife.ge, PhD dagree in Arts History
In the diverse repertoire of Broadway theaters, which are tailored to audiences of all ages, worldviews, interests and tastes, one of the honorable places among the cult performances is the "Phantom of the Opera" by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh, which, apart from Broadway (New York) is popular and, consequently, particularly successful in tours of London, Tokyo, Sydney, Helsinki, Prague and other cities around the world. The creators of this legendary artistic product choose performers with great rudeness and simplicity who are selected according to a single criterion - high professionalism and qualities necessary for a universal actor. Such are the performers of the magical spectacle presented at the Majestic Theater in New York.
A large group of professionals works on “Phantom of the Opera” who do not miss any detail, and these details create a fantastic spectacle that does not allow the audience to relax, and the audience is fully involved in the adventures of the characters with whom the actors live on stage.
“Phantom of the Opera” presented at the Majestic Theater is an effective performance, a bit pathetic from today's point of view, but an authentic performance of the specifics of the epoch, which leaves no one indifferent in the hall.
It is difficult to single out an episode that is not admirable, but especially impressive is the "basement scene", which also evokes the association of hell (in terms of mysticism) and at the same time this space is imbued with a ray of light and love (production design by Maria Björnson, lighting by Andrew Bridge). Unforgettable is the scene of the city view, the episode on the roof of the Opera. This effective spectacle is created by the scenographer and the master of lighting. Also effective is the sound of the phantom of the opera in the hall, which leaves the feeling that the ghost is standing behind you and whispering in your ear (sound designers: Martin Levan and Mick Potter).
The spectacle, which is loaded with many technical focuses and artistic effects, is complemented by the leading actors, who tell and bring to life the story on eternal and, consequently, topical themes.
Christina, played by Megan Picerno, portrays the artistic face of a virtuous and conscientious young woman who has a positive attitude towards the audience from the very first moment. Positive, which is so abundantly scattered by the actress to the audience, is not illusory and obscure. Actress Megan Picerno is the whole axis of the performance around which the action unfolds and which drives the whole performance. She has a great physical and emotional load in the play, which convincingly, directly and with scenic truth portrays Christina's character. The actor Ben Crawford, playing the role of the phantom is a true master and magician of the stage. The actor possesses all the techniques and professional skills to accurately express the character of the hero. The opera phantom presented by him is not even a negative character, but a tragic character fighting for love. Ben Crawford is especially exciting during the vocal monologues - Music of the Night and All I Ask of You - when the portrait of his hero (a lyrical and sensitive man) is fully depicted, which arouses sympathy in the audience. The actor, in addition to excellent vocal abilities and sophisticated plasticity, possesses special skills of transformation. In the finale, the opera phantom reminds you of Shakespeare's "Macbeth" phrase "Light in the dark, darkness in the light." It is difficult to single out the main and episodic members of the cast because each of them is an important, necessary and essential component of the performance, but I cannot fail to mention actress Maree Johnson, who impressed me not only with her performance technique and exceptional skill of transformation but also with a refined stage culture and a detailed outline of the heroine’s character.
"Phantom of the Opera" is rich and varied with mass scenes, colorful costumes, original scenography, exhilarating choreographic score and performance, music close and pleasant to the whole world, high performance techniques and presentation of the actors' abilities.
photo taken by Johan Persson; Murphy Made Photography (Matthew Murphy)