‘Phantom of the Opera’ returns to DSM’s lair

By Shari Goldstein Stern

Photo by Matthew Murphy

For the “The Phantom of the Opera” (POTO) purist, the current run of the Tony award-winner at Dallas Summer Musicals (DSM) will satisfy your ongoing desire to see the show again and again. For those who are hearing the magical score and enjoying the dark, ethereal musical for the first time, you are very likely to join those devoted fans. POTO is the longest-running show in Broadway’s history.

First and to be clear, “The Phantom of the Opera” is a musical, not an opera.

When orchestra conductor Jamie Johns raises his baton for the organ’s legendary G minor, he sets the tone for what will be unforgettable theater. Now through January 6 at the Music Hall at Fair Park, “He’s there, beneath the Opera.”

The production is exquisite. It is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s remarkable score as interpreted at its best by the orchestra, which includes some area talent. Those local musicians are Jennifer Griffin, Arthur Busby, Susan Dubois, Debbie Brooks, Mike Lelevich, Pam Adams, Randy Lee, Daryl Coad, Sara Scurry and Brian Brown.

The sets range from an interesting, large, round “column” exterior, resembling rusted metal. It spins slowly to reveal the theater owners’ office, a dressing room, a cemetery and a river under the Paris Opera House. Production numbers fill the stage. Dance and opera scenes are set on a an elaborately dressed stage with a gaudy, gold-tone proscenium arch. 

Beneath the opera house, Set Designer Paul Brown returns to Dallas with the show. He adds a bold, dark, dramatic space for the Phantom’s lair. All of Brown’s sets are works of art. The pyrotechnics are well placed and always a good surprise.

Costume Designers Maria Bjornson and Christine Rowland, also returning to Dallas, created breathtaking costumes in every scene. From Christine’s feminine, flouncy dresses in which she appears to glide across the floor, to Carlotta’s jewel-encrusted gowns and the ballerinas’ fringed tutus, they are also works of art.

As Christine Daaé, Eva Tavares is flawless. Her vocals are astonishing, powerful and she has an exceptionally large range. 

Quentin Oliver Lee’s Phantom is among the best. His stature is ideal, and is voice is perfection. He’s just as creepy as he is meant to be. Jordan Craig’s Raoul is also perfection. Tall and handsome, he’s an ideal love interest and hero.

The show lacked a little energy during the first act, but it picked up for the second act. During Sunday’s second act, an announcer said the show would stop for a few minutes. No more than five minutes later, it started again. Why remains a mystery.

The show includes exceptional music and vocals, some of the pieces are as memorable as “The Music of the Night,” “All I ask of you,” “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again,” and many others. The chandelier is a character in itself, gorgeous, and its role is majestic.

“Phantom of the Opera” will play through January 6 at the Music Hall at Fair Park. 

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