A panel of ASU Gammage theatregoers shares their opinions throughout the season.
The Phantom of the Opera
October 28 - November 22
THEATER GREATNESS AT GAMMAGE
To me, the term “theater greatness” describes an aspect of a show that turns an enjoyable night in the theater into a thrilling one. Sometimes, enough components work together to make a show as a whole an experience of theater greatness. It doesn’t happen with every show, but I did experience it at The Phantom of the Opera on Friday night. What was great about this show?
It wasn’t the music. I find the music pleasant, but not engaging. The title song is properly scary; some of the others are pretty, only one is beautiful (The Point of No Return). Yes, you can hum some of the tunes because you hear them over and over and over (did I mention over?) during the show, and you’ve probably heard them at every wedding you’ve attended since 1988.
It wasn’t the lyrics, which I consider the weakest part of Phantom. They do little to explain anything about the characters, their feelings or motivations. They rarely advance the plot, and they aren’t clever, poetic, or even very interesting. The show feels very slow at times, partly because the characters are singing with great emotion, but with very little to say.
It wasn’t the plot, construction, or the characters. Though I had read Leroux’s novel on which this show is based, and seen two movie versions, neither the story nor the characters and their relationships became clear until near the end of the second act. And by then, I’m thinking more about how long it will take to get out of the parking lot.
One excellent aspect of the show was the live orchestra (especially the French horn players). This orchestra’s efforts enhanced the action, and the music accompaniment fell short only during the synthesized sections.
The cast as a whole came close to greatness. Each voice, from top to bottom, was strong, clear, and as good or better than the voices on the original cast CD.
My experience of theater greatness was watching and listening to the performance of Tim Martin Gleason as the Phantom. It was as close to perfect as I could imagine. His voice is simply one of the best I’ve heard – ever. It is exactly the voice I could believe would inspire Christine to study with him, follow him, and even fall in love with him. Gleason’s singing and acting added a depth to his character that transcended the written music and lyrics. In short, his performance was absolutely thrilling.