This weekend treat yourself to some culture. The Winspear Opera House launched its latest show from the Broadway series, and for once I can wholeheartedly say the musical is worth the steep price tag attached. On Wednesday, August 6 the revamped touring version of “The Phantom of the Opera” premiered and it is just short of wonderful.
“The Phantom of the Opera” story is well known by many, but in case here is a quick refresher before we dive into whether or not paying $70 for just the cheap seats is worth it. The show essentially revolves around three people: ballerina and aspiring opera singer Christine Daaé, her childhood friend Raoul, and the mysterious masked man, known as the Phantom, who lives in a cave in the bowels of the French opera house.
The Phantom fancies Christine as his muse and has taken the young woman under his cape (get it) to transform her into the perfect singer for his haunting music. She is torn between her reignited relationship with Raoul and her forbidden love for the Phantom. Lots of songs about the crappy hands we are dealt in life and how one cannot simply fill a gaping hole in another person’s heart are sung. Tears are shed. There is a shiny chandelier. You get the picture.
The musical is one of Broadway’s most beloved, and although it has come to Dallas many times in the past, this freshly produced and dressed up offering is a delight. It is the perfect evening for fans and newcomers alike. The touring show is bigger than I’ve ever seen it and the talent on stage is topnotch.
Dallas audiences are treated to the voice of Julia Udine as the ingénue Christine Daaé, who only performs opening night through the end of the first weekend, and then the last week of the tour. The rest of the time two understudies fill in for Udine. Her voice is enchanting and pairs beautifully with Ben Jacoby, who plays her childhood friend, and potential lover, Raoul.
Although early reviews of the touring show claimed Jacoby and Udine lacked chemistry, I found their shared moments sensual when they were not bordering on intense. A delicate combination that audiences expect to see between the Phantom (Cooper Grodin) and Christine, but surprisingly refreshing to see with Raoul instead. Raoul may always be the safe choice, but in this performance he came into the ring swinging and won the match easily.
Dallas can see “The Phantom of the Opera” at the AT&T Performing Arts Center through Sunday, August 24th. Tickets start at $70 and go up to $200. Just get a ticket, otherwise the Phantom might drop a chandelier on your head.