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‘Phantom of the Opera’ returns to L.A. at the Pantages in Hollywood

Posted: January 30, 2009 11:13 a.m.
Updated: January 30, 2009 1:00 p.m.
"Phantom of the Opera" returns to Los Angeles at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. "Phantom of the Opera" returns to Los Angeles at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood.
"Phantom of the Opera" returns to Los Angeles at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood.
Whenever "Phantom of the Opera" comes to Los Angeles it can be considered a major theatrical event.

"Phantom" opened on Oct. 9, 1986 at Her Majesty's Theatre in London, winning every major British theater award.

The New York production opened on Jan. 26, 1988 with a then-record advance of $18 million. The musical went on to sweep the 1988 Tony Awards, winning seven, including Best Musical.

The show won seven Drama Desk Awards and three Outer Critics Circle Awards.

The original London cast recording was the first in British musical history to enter the charts at number one.

The album has gone both gold and platinum in Britain and the United States, selling more than 25 million copies.

The Cameron Mackintosh and The Really Useful Theatre Company, Inc. touring production of "Phantom of the Opera" has been on the road for 16 years, said Bruce Winant, who has spent the last four years touring as "Monsieur Firmin" in the production.

"This show is a blast," said Winant. "It is one of those shows that when I first got started doing Broadway I always wanted to do. You dream of doing certain shows when you’re young and it is wonderful to be able to finally perform in them."

Winant said audiences continue to give the "Phantom" cast an enthusiastic reception.

"To see the response to the show every night is exciting," he said. "To see audiences pack the house and to stand and cheer every night is an amazing thing."

"Phantom of the Opera," with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Charles Hart and additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe, is based on the French novel "Le Fantôme de l’Opéra" by Gaston Leroux.

The musical focuses on a beautiful soprano, Christine Daaé, who becomes the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius known as "The Phantom of the Opera."

The "Phantom" is a masked figure who lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, exercising a reign of terror over all who inhabit it. It is, at its heart, the timeless story of unrequited and obsessive love.

"Phantom" continues to enchant audiences, said Winant, because it is "wonderful gothic melodrama that defies time."

"This show will always entertain a mass audience," he said.

Winant said he loves to see the families who come to the show.

"It is fun to watch parents who grew up with show bring their children to see the show," he said. "We have fan groups who follow the show around the country. I spoke to one fan who said he has seen the show 600 times."

Winant said the music combines classical opera with ‘80s pop.

"The combination has created a style of its own that has never gone out of style," he said. "It is amazing to see the young kids come and obsess about the music because the music seems to have transcended time and style."

The musical also seems to have something for everyone, said Winant.

"The girls love the gothic romance and the boys love the scary parts — the explosions and the crashing chandelier," he said.

For Winant his favorite musical moment of the night is when the two managers, of whom Winant plays one of the roles, read competing notes sent by the Phantom.

"It is musically most complex and it is brilliant how Webber (the composer) and his lyricist were able to combine five different melodies and end up with it becoming one," he said.

The familiar music in "Phantom of the Opera" includes the numbers "Think of Me," "Angel of Music," "The Phantom of the Opera," "The Music of the Night," "Notes/Prima Donna," "All I Ask of You," "Masquerade," "Wishing you Were Somehow Here Again" and "The Point of No Return."

"Phantom of the Opera" stars John Cudia in the role of the phantom. He appeared as the Phantom on Broadway.

Trista Moldovan plays the role of Christine Daae, the love interest of the Phantom. She has appeared on television in the soap operas "The Guiding Light," "All My Children" and "As the World Turns."

Kyle Barisich is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He recently made his Broadway debut with "Phantom of the Opera" last year.

"Phantom of the "Opera" will play at the Pantage Theatre in Hollywood in a limited engagement only through Feb. 21.


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