The Phantom of the Opera

by Michael Martin

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday December 28, 2009

Tim Martin Gleason as the Phantom and Trista Moldovan as Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera.
Tim Martin Gleason as the Phantom and Trista Moldovan as Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera.  

Marking its third return to Ft. Lauderdale, the national touring company of The Phantom of the Opera recently arrived at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts for an encore presentation of the legendary musical.

Originally produced by Cameron MacKintosh and The Really Useful Theatre Company, with direction by Harold Prince, the timeless story, scored with memorable music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, features the woeful tale of a budding musical composer who conceals a facial disfigurement behind a mask and sanctions himself to a lonely life below the Paris Opera House in 1911.

Though not a phantom at all, the young composer threatens to "haunt" the owners and cast members of the Opera House if they do not abide by any of his wishes, the most daunting of which includes the Phantom's insistence that young ingnue Christine Daa (Trista Moldovan) replace Carlotta Giudicelli (Kim Stengel) as the opera's leading lady.

Infatuated with Christine, the Phantom attempts to entrance the young maiden into loving him, yet his efforts are thwarted by Raoul (Sean MacLaughlin), the handsome Visconte de Chagny.

Though the Phantom's aggression resorts to murder, a glimpse of the character's inner heart is revealed at the story's end where the Phantom releases Christine and Raoul from probable harm, concedes the war to win over Christine's love for himself, and disappears back into a world beset by loneliness.

As the Phantom, leading man Tim Martin Gleason effectively portrays the multiple levels of a character wrought with confusion, self loathing, and troubled compassion. Gleason effortlessly achieves the soaring score's multi-octave range with a tenor that reverberates loudly as easily as it soothes in its softer tones.

Trista Moldovan proves herself an equally strong actress and vocalist in the role of Christine that demands an exorbitant amount of stage time and the qualifying ability to hit a High E note in the complex score.

Rounding out the story's love triangle, Sean MacLaughlin's Raoul tenderly attempts to calm a frightened Christine in their duet, "All I Ask of You", which allows MacLaughlin to boast a powerful tenor of his own.

Also impressive, Kim Stengel (Carlotta Giudicelli), Michael Scott Harris (Ubaldo Piangi), D.C. Anderson (Monsieur Andr), and Bruce Winant (Monsieur Firmin) all have fun with their sometimes over the top characters. Stengel and Harris especially shine with a gorgeous soprano and tenor, respectively, during short selected arias from the rehearsed operas.

Nancy Hess creates a credibly strict Madame Giry, though she fares better in her lower range than when having to project in head voice.

Only Jessica Bishop, as Madame Giry's only daughter Meg Giry, slightly misses the mark with a meeker voice and a stifled flow that fails to match the fluidity of the rest of the Corps de Ballet.

Collectively, however, the production remains sharply in tact and continues to delight scores of audiences nationwide.

The Phantom of the Opera continues through January 17, 2010 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW 5th Avenue. For more information, visit the website.

Michael Martin has been an active member of Actors' Equity for over 20 years. As a professional actor, he has toured many parts of the US and the world. Originally from St. Louis, he now resides in Miami.