A “Phantom” With All The Bells and Whistles and a Special Leading Lady
By Skip Sheffield
In a telephone interview Julia Udine told me “technology has advanced so much in 30 years it is more spectacular than ever.”
She was not exaggerating. “The Phantom of the Opera,” playing through Nov. 30 at Broward Center for the Performing Arts is the most eye-popping, technically ingenious “Phantom” I have ever seen. Oh, and Julia Udine is the best Christine I have ever seen. Julia, who has been on the road for a year, steps up to Broadway after the Fort Lauderdale stop. I’ll wager she will capture hearts there too. The key to the character of Christine is that you have to fall in love with her a little bit, just like the Phantom. Yes, I did.
Cooper Grodin, who plays the Phantom, is also moving on after this stop. That’s how it is with a show that has run almost 30 years in England and is still running on Broadway.
Technical effects are very important in “The Phantom,” because face it, it’s a pretty thin story that everyone knows. It's basically a variation of "Beauty and the Beast, which predates Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel. Horribly disfigured boy with genius musical talent is caged and put on display in a carnival. He manages to escape and seek refuge in the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera. It is there he remains an unseen force acknowledged only by Madame Giry (Anne Kanengeiser), once his protégée.
"Phantom" has one of the most spectacular opening scenes in modern theater; set at an action of effects and furnishings of the old Paris Opera. When Lot 666 comes up, watch out!
Yes, the national touring company of "The Phantom of the Opera" does not stint on thrills and chill, gorgeous costumes, and lovely live songs well-sung. It's an old B horror movie set to music with an especially delicate and delightful ingénue. Give our regards to Broadway Julia Udine.
Tickets are $34.75 and up. Call 800-745-3000 or go to www.browardcenter.org.