After 65,000 professional performances seen by 130 million people in 30 countries and 152 cities, you would think one would be hard-pressed to find a person who has not seen “The Phantom of the Opera,” or at least has an appreciation for what some call a great love story.
Not so. I am that person.
At first I was concerned that my shallow knowledge of the heralded musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, which made its debut in London in 1986, would be a hindrance to my ability to comment on this new and updated North American touring production. The show had its local opening night last week at the opulently restored Boston Opera House near Downtown Crossing.
The play, based on the classic novel “Le Fantome de L ‘Opera” by Gaston Leroux, is about a masked figure who lives beneath the Paris Opera House and devotes himself to nurturing the talent of a beautiful, young soprano named Christine Daae. We are, I guess, supposed to have some sympathy for him and for Christine’s misguided attraction to him.
As this “reinvented” production by Cameron Mackintosh crept along, however, I became more comfortable with the fact that perhaps it was best I had not seen one of the previous 65,000 performances.
I do not know how it was updated or refreshed. I did, however, overhear one patron who said he had seen it eight times tell his companion that the lyrics to “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” in Act 2, Scene 5, had been changed.
I would never have known about the alleged lyrics alterations, but I can tell you I never heard a word of them because I was mesmerized by the scenery of the graveyard where Christine (played by Julia Udine) was singing at her father’s towering Celtic cross of a grave marker. Daae’s voice and performance was upstaged by the slowly rising sun bringing dawn to the village behind her.