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‘Phantom of the Opera’ Inhabits the Marcus Center

Theater Preview

Aug. 4, 2009
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The Cameron Mackintosh/Really Useful Theatre Company production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera wanders into town this week fresh from a monthlong engagement in Houston. The current incarnation of the show, having toured the United States for more than 15 years and more than 6,000 performances, has racked up quite a few miles and brings an incredible amount of momentum. Not bad for an idea that, to a certain degree, came from Webber's lack of anything better to do (Ken Hill produced a Phantom of the Opera musical in '76; years later, it inspired Webber to create one as well).

While this touring show is yet another massive, nomadic, Broadway-in-a-box production, the years on the road won't be as visible as one might expect from a show that started its journey in the final days of the original Bush administration. Webber's Cats has a hopelessly '80s production design, but the lavish costumes and classy look of Phantom paint the stage with a rich, gothic style.

The production is also aided by the open spaces originally designed by the late Maria Bjornson. Her use of empty space allows Phantom to inhabit the large performance venues that host traveling Broadway shows. And with a seating capacity of more than 2,300, the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts' Uihlein Hall is quite large. The space above the seats is partially filled with an enormous chandelier (with more than 9,000 bulbs, it dwarfs the chandelier used on the set of Phantom). This pairing of production and venue should make for an enthralling experience.

The Phantom of the Opera runs Aug. 5-30 at the MarcusCenter for the Performing Arts.




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