Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires
With new sets by Paul Brown, the touring production is scaled down quite a bit from what can currently be seen in the Broadway production, but, thankfully, this new version retains Maria Bjornson's glorious, Tony Award winning costumes, and the sense of scope of this musical is all there. So, even for those (like me) who have seen the Broadway Phantom more than once, this touring company production most definitely delivers the goods and clearly displays the reasons why this musical continues to draw audiences on Broadway.
Chief among the assets of this production are the performances of the three leads. In the title role, Derrick Davis is spectacular and delivers such numbers as "The Music of the Night" and "The Point of No Return" flawlessly. He also acts the part in a grand manner and brings a great deal of freshness and a vibrancy to the character. It should be noted that he is the first African-American performer to play this role on the tour.
It is listed in the program that Eva Tavares regularly plays Christine Daae, but, at the performance I attended, Kaitlyn Davis took on the role. Davis is pretty fantastic and one would never know that she is one of the alternates who covers this part. Besides looking beautiful, she is a strong-voiced soprano, singing the demanding music perfectly, especially the opening "Think of Me," the tender "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again," and the duet with Jordan Craig's Raoul, "All I Ask of You." Kaitlyn Davis is so good as Christine that I would hardly be surprised if she eventually takes over the role full-time in the future.
Jordan Craig is pretty close to ideal as Raoul and, as mentioned, he is just great singing "All I Ask of You" opposite Kaitlyn Davis. He also brings a dashing, leading man stature to this character, appropriately making Phantom the love triangle it must be. He is also fine at displaying the character's bravery in the crucial final scene and he is quite handsome, as well.
Trista Moldovan is a funny Carlotta, and David Benoit and Edward Staudenmayer are terrific as Monsieur Firmin and Monsieur Andre, respectively. Kristie Dale Sanders is necessarily stern and commanding as Madame Giry. Indeed, because of their strong performances, these actors make the "Notes" scene in the first act quite hilarious. As for the work of the ensemble and the actors in other supporting roles, there is not a weak link in the company.
In the reimagining of the original staging and sets of Phantom, this new production lacks some of the grandeur of the Broadway version, especially in the second act opening, "Masquerade," and one misses the complexity of the Phantom's lair at the end of the show. Still, it does capture the size and richness of the musical, and the total experience of the show is deeply fulfilling, with the falling of the chandelier just as amazing as it is in the Broadway original.
The Phantom of the Opera continues performances at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT through November 26, 2017. For tickets, please visit www.palacetheaterct.org or call the box office at 203-346-2000. For more information on the tour, visit thephantomoftheopera.com.