The Cameron Mackintosh/Really Useful Theatre Company, Inc. touring production of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's blockbuster 1986 West End and 1988 Broadway backstage musical, The Phantom of the Opera, will haunt Raleigh Memorial Auditorium from April 22 until May 18, courtesy of Broadway Series South. This gala National Tour, staged by original director Harold Prince, will star Brad Little as The Phantom who haunts the Paris Opera House in the 1860s; Rebecca Pitcher as his prize pupil, the beautiful soprano Christine Daaé, whom the hideously deformed masked recluse loves; and Tim Martin Gleason as the handsome nobleman and opera patron Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, who also loves the fair Christine.
"If you haven't seen 'The Phantom of the Opera' yet," raves NYTHEATRE.COM, "you should: no matter what you think of British mega-musicals or Andrew Lloyd Webber or the rest of the hype, this is a memorable and one-of-a-kind theatre experience. The score is gorgeous ('Music of the Night,' 'All I Ask of You,' the title song), the lavish scenery and costumes are stunning, and the special effects are truly thrilling. There's an eerie gondola ride to the Phantom's lair, where giant candelabra rise magically from the depths of the Paris Opera House; and of course there's that famous, spectacular chandelier."
The Phantom of the Opera is based on the 1910 horror/romance, Le Fantôme de l'opéra, by French horror and crime novelist Gaston Leroux (1868-1927). The show features a brilliant book by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe, magnificent music by Sir Andrew, clever lyrics by Charles Hart, and crisp additional lyrics by Stilgoe.
Phantom had its world premiere in London on October 9, 1986, at Her Majesty's Theatre. The show opened in New York on January 26, 1988 at the Majestic Theatre.
The original London production of Phantom won all the major British theater awards, including the 1986 Olivier and London Evening Standard awards for best musical. The original New York production won seven 1988 Tony® Awards (including best musical), seven Drama Desk Awards, and three Outer Critics Circle Awards.
In addition to The Phantom of the Opera, Harold Prince directed the world premieres of Cabaret, Candide, Company, Evita, Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Parade, and Sweeney Todd. He has won 20 Tony® Awards and was a 1994 Kennedy Center Honoree. Prince received a National Medal of Arts from President Clinton in 2000. The medal honored his career, which has spanned more than 40 years, and saluted him for "chang[ing] the nature of the American musical."
Brad Little (The Phantom) has played The Phantom on Broadway and off. A Sacramento critic raved, "[Brad] Little did an outstanding job portraying the tortured 'Angel of Music,' and despite having the least stage time of any of the main characters, obviously stole the hearts of the crowd with his performance. He received a standing ovation as the cast came back on stage to take their bows."
Little first joined The Phantom of the Opera Broadway and touring family in 1994. He started out in the chorus, played Raoul, and then played The Phantom. Brad Little recently returned to play the title role in the National Tour after three years away. For more information, visit http://www.bradlittle.com/.
Rebecca Pitcher (Christine Daaé) is a lyric coloratura. She won the Columbus Opera Competition in 1996 and was a semi-finalist in the McAlister Awards in 1997.
Tim Martin Gleason (Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny) is making his first National Tour as Raoul. He originated the role of Romeo in Broadway star and former Raleigh resident Terrence Mann's new rock opera Romeo and Juliet: The Musical at the famous Goodspeed Opera House.
Other prominent actors and actresses in the 36-member cast include: David Cryer and D.C. Anderson as Monsieurs Firmin and André, the new opera managers who foolishly ignore The Phantom's demands; Kim Stengel as prima donna Carlotta Giudicelli, whom The Phantom despises; Patti Davidson-Gorbea the opera's ballet mistress Madame Giry; Kate Wray as her daughter, Meg Giry; and Frederic Heringes as Ubaldo Piangi. Marni Raab will play Christine Daaé at certain performances.
In a February 15, 2001 reappraisal of Phantom, New York Post critic Clive Barnes claimed, "The reason for the success of 'Phantom,' apart from [producer] Cameron Mackintosh's shrewd marketing and merchandising, is easy to see. And even easier to hear.
"In this old-style operetta, with very new-style staging by Harold Prince (and, particularly, [set] designer Maria Bjornson), Lloyd Webber's music has truly found its metier.
Barnes added, "A virtually sung-through text, complete even with operatic recitative, like the marvelous and enduring 19th century backstage mystery by Gaston Leroux upon which the book by Richard Stilgoe and Lloyd Webber is based, is a natural for Lloyd Webber's eclectic musical style.
"With its confident suggestions of Gilbert & Sullivan, English choral music, a touch here and there of Gounod and Meyerbeer, the score, with its apt but unsurprising lyrics by Charles Hart, never put a foot wrong from the start. And after 13 years it still doesn't," declared Clive Barnes.
Broadway Series South presents The Phantom of the Opera Tuesday-Friday, April 22-25, April 29-May 2, May 6-9, and May 13-16, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, April 26, May 3, May 10, and May 17, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, April 27, May 4, May 11, and May 18, at 2 and 7:30 p.m. in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the BTI Center for the Performing Arts, 1 E. South St., Raleigh, NC. $20-$72. (NOTE: To get up to $20 off mezzanine and front-balcony seats at certain performances, go to http://www.ticketmaster.com/promo/1584 [inactive 7/1/03].) 919/834-4000 (Ticketmaster) or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/804174 [inactive 12/03] or 919/231-4575 (groups of 20 or more). http://broadwayseriessouth.com/2002-2003/broadway.html#phantom [inactive 4/04] or http://www.thephantomoftheopera.com/ [inactive 6/03].