Entertainment » Theatre

The Phantom of the Opera

by Kevin Taft
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Jun 11, 2019
Derrick Davis and Eva Tavares in "The Phantom of the Opera"
Derrick Davis and Eva Tavares in "The Phantom of the Opera"  

Going strong after almost 35 years, Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera" has surpassed just being a musical theatre staple, it's become a mainstream classic. So much so that the musical itself is so familiar to audiences that the impact of the story can tend to get lost.

This is the case with the latest touring company version of the "New Production." While the staging is effective (and loses the occasional cheesiness of the original production), it's still hard to be invested in the character's love triangle when the leads lack chemistry.

The story revolves around Christine Daae (Eva Tavares) whose musical mentor reveals himself to be the manipulative Phantom of the Opera (Derrick Davis). When she becomes torn between her love of his talent and leadership and the horrible things he threatens to do to the owners of the opera where she is part of the company, things start to go wrong; especially when she reignites with old flame Raoul (Jordan Craig).

Both Tavares and Davis are excellent vocalists and it's nice to see an African American lead return to the role of the Phantom; but there is just no chemistry between either Tavares and Davis, or Tavares and Craig. Everyone seems to be going through the motions that the musical posits but the director forgot to ensure there was an emotional reason to be watching it all play out.

Interestingly, the one actor/character that makes a lasting impression is Trista Moldovan's Carlotta, the haughty opera singer that is pushed out of the lead role by Christine — at the insistence of the Phantom. Her humor, voice, and presence transcend the production and make you momentarily invested in the character. This doesn't happen with any of the leads. Which is a shame, especially when there's so much talent there.

But honestly, it's not going to matter. While this was a prestigious musical back in the '80s, it has become sort of a tourist staple like visiting the Statue of Liberty or the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Everyone has to see it at some point in their life and they'll probably never forget the throbbing techno beat of the theme song or the slow motion crash of the chandelier. The songs, the voices, the sets — all of this will impress those that don't make theatre a regular event. And there's nothing wrong with that. But for those that want a more fulfilling experience, this version will lack the emotional component that is needed to make the Phantom mean something and make us feel something.

"The Phantom of the Opera" runs through July 7th at the Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028. For more information and for tickets please visit www.hollywoodpantages.com

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.


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