Let the Dream Begin, Let Your Darker Side Give In

To the power of Broadway’s longest running show in history, The Phantom of the Opera!

After a brief break in posts, it’s time for the official review of this great Andrew Lloyd Webber classic and titan of Broadway. As a note, one bitch went to see this without the other – Kristin got these tickets as a Christmas present from her partner, so it was more of a date night deal than an official bitches on Broadway time. That said, Kristin will be running this review solo because you still deserve to hear all about this show.

Key cast: Hugh Panaro (the ORIGINAL Marius in the Broadway premiere of Les Miserables) as the Phantom, Mary Michael Patterson (recently Hope Harcourt in Anything Goes on Broadway) as Christine Daae, and Jeremy Hays (Rum Tum Tugger in the national tour of Cats, Enjolras in the 25th anniversary production of Les Mis) as Raoul
Theater: Majestic Theatre, 247 West 44th Street
Ticket price range: $50 – $167
Our show rating: 4 chandelier-crashing stars
Our theater rating: 4 – it’s a nice large venue that has been running this show for years, well-equipped for all of the special effects, and it REALLY fits the show itself
On through: August 2014
Synopsis: “Winner of 7 1988 Tony Awards including Best Musical, and now the longest-running show in Broadway history, The Phantom of the Opera is based on the novel by Gaston Leroux. It tells the story of the hideously deformed Phantom who lurks beneath the stage of the Paris Opera, exercising a reign of terror over its occupants. The phantom falls in love with the young Soprano devoting himself to creating a new star for the Opera by nurturing her extraordinary talents and employing all the skills at his disposal.”

The nitty gritty – our thoughts on this show:

It’s the blockbuster of Broadway, the darkly romantic, difficult-to-top masterpiece of genius Andrew Lloyd Webber – and you’ll never forget that for a single moment of the show. For those of you that have only seen the film version with Gerard Butler, throw that horrible movie away and get to NYC RIGHT NOW. Phew. Okay. To start, this is one of the earliest shows the bitches ever saw as older children. Our parents took us to the Philadelphia Opera House many years ago to see it, and I personally (Kristin) have seen it on Broadway since then as well. It’s a musical that defines the genre for many people – before Rent was Rent, there was Phantom. It’s bold and complex, filled with special effects that STILL make me jump, and soaring anthems that make any soprano (like yours truly) squirm with jealousy. Let’s dive into this particular season.

Phantom Marquee

The current Phantom is, without a doubt, one of the best I’ve ever heard. Instead of the deep baritone some of us are familiar with, Hugh Panaro is a rich, warm, bright tenor of the highest quality. He crushes those high notes effortlessly, bringing an alluring lightness – a burst of contrast – with the darkness of the character. He’s a Broadway master with a huge list of credits to his name, including being the only performer in history to play both Raoul and the Phantom on Broadway. I kid you not, the man is 50 years old and I desperately needed a fan so my partner didn’t get jealous. Panaro alone makes this show 100% worth it. Captivating!

Now that I’m done gushing about him, let’s talk about Raoul in this show. I was pleasantly surprised here. I’m coming right out to say this – I’ve always found Raoul to be pretty lame, generally bland against the Phantom. Jeremy Hays, you have my gratitude for changing my mind. He was charming without being smarmy, endearing, and delivered a perfect tenor performance throughout.

The downside, and the core reason for not giving more stars, were the ladies. Ladies, ladies, ladies, I’m disappointed in you. This Christine was airy and clear, far less powerful and daring than what I would personally prefer in the character. Carlotta is what she is, hitting some insane notes, but never with the gusto we’d like for what could otherwise be a comical gem. The real funny moments come from the theater owners in the show, Monsieurs Firmin and Andre. They played to each other quite well and provided the levity necessary for this kind of show.  I may be a little harsh on Christine, but this was my favorite show for so much of my life that I have high expectations.

Phantom Set

The opening set, complete with chandelier

Don’t let that fool you, though. This show is a classic for a reason, and with this Phantom – and the relatively low ticket prices – you’d be a FOOL to miss this. The show is powerful and there are moments that get you to the edge of your seats, notes that will give you chills, and a phan-tastic (get it?) performance by the core men that will leave you breathless.

Our recommendations:
Best seen with: A fantastic, romantic date – or a choir geek that loves this show and will swoon over the impressive tenor powers of Hugh Panaro
Best food nearby: Gallo Nero, also on 44th Street, is a cozy, moderately priced Italian place with delicious food, a great wine menu, and an atmosphere that suits the dark romance of Phantom. STRONGLY recommend making reservations. Also nearby is Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain, if you’re into the Food Network/tv personality thing. Another local gem is Hell’s Kitchen Mexican, a place with some serious rave reviews on Yelp.
Best metro stop: 42nd Street-Port Authority (A,C,E), Times Square-42nd Street (1, 2, 3)
Best parking garage: Edison ParkFast at 50 W. 44th Street isn’t too far and has some very reasonable parking; a slighter closer option is the Edison ParkFast at 332 W. 44th Street, at about $10 more for the day

That’s all for now. Check out the obligatory theater selfie below, and stay tuned for our next review. There’s a chance we’ll be going to a mystery show on Sunday (both bitches this time), so we’ll let you know as we go!

That girl in the background is very confused

That girl in the background is very confused

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About Kristin R

I'm a twenty-something woman living in NYC working in the nonprofit sector, learning to thrive in the Big Apple while balancing my new life as a (quasi) stepmother.

Posted on March 18, 2014, in Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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