New ‘Phantom of the Opera’ sets the stage on fire (literally)

WEKB_Phantom_0710 copy
If you’ve read this far into the review, chances are you already have the music stuck in your head.
Credit: Alastair Muir

The re-imagined production of “The Phantom of the Opera” currently making its North American premiere at the Opera House is, in a word, magnificent. The sheer spectacle of the behemoth musical is reason enough to see it, even if you think you’ve seen it before.

Though the plot remains largely intact, the staging, choreography and scenic design have undergone an overhaul that makes “Phantom” feel fresh and new. They’ve injected some humor (though it takes a while for the audience to feel comfortable laughing), created a stunning set with a pretty impressive staircase and employed special effects that’ll make even the most cynical “Phantom” detractor sit up and take note.

Thanks to some extraordinary pyrotechnics, the Phantom (Cooper Grodin) feels far more demonic and menacing than his predecessors. Flames fly so freely and with such seeming spontaneity you’ll surely find yourself scoping out the emergency exit locations more than once.

When the legendary chandelier comes crashing down, it feels so real you might think you’ve actually been zapped by an errant electrical current. You haven’t, but you might get hit with some of the shards of glass (plastic actually) that make it feel even more authentic.

Despite all the smoke and special effects, the real star of “Phantom” is still its glorious score. With songs like “Think of Me,” “The Music of the Night” and “All I Ask of You,” expect to be singing (at least in your head) for days.

Julia Udine delivers a stellar turn as Christine, while Grodin nicely transitions the Phantom from mysterious stranger into madcap monster with haunting subtexts of vulnerability and pain.

You may have heard the story before, but you’ve never seen anything like this.

If you go

“The Phantom of the Opera”
Through July 20th
Boston Opera House
539 Washington St., Boston
Starting at $33


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