English producer Cameron Mackintosh is bringing composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera around the country on its North American Tour. Its first stop is New Orleans, and opening night is March 14 at the Saenger Theatre. A story that started off as a French novel has experienced many modifications since it was first published in 1909 — from films to live musical adaptations.
The story is one of both horror and romance, intertwined to tell a tale about a deformed magician referred to as the Phantom, who feels an unrequited love for a chorus singer named Christine. The Phantom walks around in a mask because of his skeletal appearance — with tightened yellow skin, a missing nose and lips, and hollow eyes. As a child, he was never shown affection, because his mother was repulsed by his appearance and his father wasn’t around due to his career. The Phantom ran away, and along with learning magic and ventriloquy, he learned to sing as well.
He begins to grow a deep admiration for Christine and decides to train her further in music. But as he falls for her, she falls for an old childhood friend, Raoul, who witnesses her perform one night. This causes much conflict, and so the plot thickens as the Phantom competes for Christine’s affection — in ways that are a lot more extreme than a typical chasing game.
Playwright Ken Hill is responsible for the first Phantom of the Opera musical remake, performed in 1984. Both Mackintosh and Lloyd Webber attended the show and wanted to be a part of a collaboration, but decided that they couldn’t contribute to something that was already well put together. However, it did inspire Lloyd Webber to create a version of his own, which came out in 1986. Since then, the show has been revamped several times.
The North American Tour will extend into April 2019, and the last performance will be in Cleveland, Ohio. The crew has gotten pretty innovative this year with lots of new features, including new choreography by Scott Ambler, new staging by director Laurence Connor, a new scenic design by Paul Brown, Tony Award-winning original costume design by Maria Björnson, and new lighting design by Tony Award-winner Paule Constable.
This year’s tour stars Quentin Oliver Lee as the Phantom, Eve Tavares as Christine, and Jordan Craig as Raoul. The show has a duration of two hours and 30 minutes, including a 20-minute intermission. This year also commemorates 30 years of The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. The show is the longest-running Broadway musical and is one of the largest productions on tour today, comprised of 52 cast and orchestra members.
The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway will be at the Majestic Theatre in New York City from March through September. Other international tours include London, from March through October; and Budapest, from March through August. The show has been performed in 15 different languages, including French, Portuguese, and Korean, and has been performed in 35 countries. It has also won over “70 major theater awards including three Olivier Awards, an Evening Standard Award, seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, seven Drama Desk Awards, and five Outer Critic Circle Awards,” according to the official website.
The Phantom of the Opera is showing now through through March 25 at the Saenger Theatre. Tickets start at $50 and are available online at saengernola.com, through Ticketmaster by phone at 800-745-3000, or in person at the Saenger Theatre Box Office.
Photos by Matthew Murphy