When my cousin went to see The Phantom of the Opera, she was disappointed because the Phantom had a lack-luster voice. That was not the case last night at the Ohio Theatre in Columbus. Cooper Grodin turned in an amazing performance, which was well-supported by a talented cast including Grace Morgan as Christine and Ben Jacoby as Raoul.
This was my second time seeing a touring Broadway production in Columbus (the first was Wicked, last July). My sister and I are in serious danger of becoming theater addicts. We love the atmosphere (especially in a theater as lovely and historic as this one in Columbus), the excuse to dress elegantly, the quality of the music, and the set changes. Before going to Wicked, I had no idea set design was so elaborate.
One thing I love about Phantom is that since it is a play about stage actors, the audience switches from being viewers at the play The Phantom of the Opera to being part of the play as an audience for the plays enacted in the Opera Populaire. We became part of the Phantom’s opera house. Sometimes, he seemed to be singing just over my shoulder because of speakers at the back of the theater (which were only used for his character). Then, near the end when Raoul orders the doors bared against the Phantom’s escape, we heard doors shutting behind us.
Christine’s has long been one of my favorite roles to sing, and the English major in me also likes to analyze her character. From reading stage directions (included in the booklet that came with my copy of the CD), it often seems like she’s in a trance — as if the Phantom is a student of Franz Mesmer and has been practicing a form of hypnotism on Christine. She’s not mad — at least insofar that she’s not imagining the Phantom — and she’s not stupid. She, like the entire play and audience, is under the Phantom’s spell.