Phantom is one of my absolute favourite musicals and, being a Brit, I was very keen to see how a British Classic would transfer and play out on the Great White Way.
First off, the casting – it’s no secret that I totally wasn’t seeing this show until late last night, when I learnt my favourite musical theatre star, Norm Lewis, was appearing as The Phantom. On the strength of that alone, I rushed to hand over $146 each for two premium stalls tickets with a magnificent view.
(…he even ‘favourited’ it – whoot!)
I’ll jump right on in and say that Norm Lewis’ Phantom was sublime. That lovely baritone voice of his simply melted my insides to a pulp. Jeremy Hayes also put in what has to have been my favourite turn as Raoul, a character I normally cannot abide.
Much is being made that Norm Lewis is the first black actor to play The Phantom on Broadway – I’m not sure why that is relevant. It’s a great personal triumph for Mr Lewis, I’m sure, but to a Brit, the American obsession with race baffles me – it just seems a bit short-sighted and smug on behalf of the production – please, don’t boast about how poor you’ve been at being colourblind in the past, eh? Mr Lewis is a Broadway Tony Award Winner and it really does seem, to an outsider, a little patronising to sell him to an audience based on the colour of his skin than his past achievements!
I’ll admit outright though that I did miss the UK aspect of the show. Sure, it still looks as beautiful as the original, however, everything just seemed a lot more polished in terms of the staging, props looked shiny new and the swathes of fabric didn’t look half as old and authentic as they do in Her Majesty’s Theatre, London.
Orchestration and the overall sound mix were sublime and ultimately I had a fantastic night, which I never questioned that I wouldn’t.