3.28.2010

Phantom / The Las Vegas Spectacular : 5 of 5

The first show my parents and I saw during our recent Las Vegas trip was the special permanent production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera, simply known as Phantom at the Venetian. Mom & Dad love the music for this show, and I've always enjoyed the story and dramatic elements, so we splurged with front row seats, and it was wonderful being able to see the actors' expressions so clearly! Similar to how a movie musical can do so much more than a standard stage production, the fact that Phantom is performed in a completely custom built theater designed specifically for this show allows for some truly incredible effects that could only be seen in this type of venue. The opening sequence where the theater goes back in time to transform from dilapidation to its former Parisian glory is mind-blowing, as the walls themselves suddenly become rows of opera boxes filled with hundreds of patrons (actually elaborate wax figures), and the famous chandelier swirls above the audience in pieces that eventually reassemble in a visual ballet! All of the sets are huge and change in the blink of an eye - one brief set showing the outside of the opera house is only used for a few seconds, but even includes onstage fireworks to set the mood! For a show that has been playing nearly every night in Vegas for years, I didn't expect the performances to be top-notch Broadway quality, but I'm happy to say I was completely wrong. Everyone was a gifted singer and believable actor, especially the Phantom himself who was tortured, romantic, and creepy all at the same time (his emotional twitching when Christine kisses him was especially convincing). I was also impressed that they used a live orchestra rather than a recorded soundtrack, making all of the songs really soar and touch the audience (especially Mom!), although a few of the numbers have been shortened a bit for this slightly abridged version of the production (which flows wonderfully with no awkward cuts). The Venetian's version of Phantom is perfect for someone who has never seen the show (although you will be spoiled for any other production), and is filled with enough surprises and effects to keep die-hard fans constantly impressed. It was definitely my favorite show of this trip, and one of my favorite Vegas shows ever!