It was the scenery, costumes and technical razzmatazz — not the individual performances (sometimes really good and especially by Jacquelynne Fontaine who played diva Carlotta Giudicelli) ) — that held my attention throughout.
My favorite scene was the “Masquerade/Why So Silent” at the start of Act 2, with all 52 cast members colorfully costumed in the grand ballroom of the Paris Opera House still haunted by the Phantom in 1912. The scene under a huge mirrored ceiling comes to a trembling halt with the appearance of The Phantom (Cooper Grodin), looking like the devil and warning of disaster if his wishes are not carried out about the production of an opera he has written.
Otherwise, I really can’t attest to witnessing any show-stopping moments.
The entrance to the Phantom’s sewer-like underground lair by set designer Paul Brown features a huge fortress-like circular wall that rotates, slowly revealing steps that the characters must carefully navigate into the darkness. According to the publicity materials, the main scenic wall weighs 10 tons and rotates around the stage.
The much ballyhooed, one-ton chandelier (designed by the same guy who designed the Olympic rings for London) hangs ominously over the audience, but then gets lost in the production.
Inexperienced as I was about the storyline and the genesis of the musical, I had a vague idea that we were supposed to feel some sympathy for The Phantom, who wears a hockey goalie-like mask to hide a disfigurement, and obsesses over Christine. She is engaged to another man, Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny, played by Ben Jacoby.
But wait, I had no sympathy for The Phantom.
He is an egomaniacal bully, stalker and murderer. There are to my mind suggestions that he raped Christine.
Near the end, he was ready to hang Raoul if she did not give in to him.