When the curtain goes up on the spectacular new North American tour of The Phantom of the Opera later this month, audiences sitting under that famous chandelier will see the show they’ve loved for more than 25 years in a whole new light.
This reimagined production of the global entertainment phenomenon that’s enchanted more than 130 million theatergoers around the world will be unveiled to North American audiences for the first time on November 27 in Providence, Rhode Island. Then, this bigger and bolder new Phantom embarks on a North American Tour to cities including Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and many more (see below).
“This new production, while staying true to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s book and music and Maria Bjornson’s costumes from the original, features modern theatre technology that breathes new life into Phantom,” said director Laurence Connor during a brief break from rehearsals. Connor also reconceived Les Misérables for a new 25th anniversary production that toured the U.S. for the past three years, is currently playing in Toronto, and will arrive on Broadway in March 2014.
“It’s the Phantom they love, but every single scene is completely different,” he said. “The technology available to us today allows us to create an environment that is so real and so honest, audiences will get a fresh sense of what the characters are going through, what their conflicts are and why they act in a certain way.”
Connor can’t wait to see audiences’ reactions to this grittier version of Phantom. Fans going to see this Phantom will experience a more realistic production than ever before — the story unfolding before them will be more lavish and operatic than they’ve ever seen. “The more you take audiences to different worlds than what they expect, the more they appreciate it,” said Connor.
This Phantom is huge: The production requires 306 tons of scenery, lighting and sound to bring the Phantom and Christine’s story to life. All of that equipment fills a caravan of 18 tractor-trailers that takes close to a hundred workers 33 hours to unload. Add to that a cast and orchestra of 52, and this Phantom will be a revelation for fans of the original.
“The sets and design of this production are very different than before,” Connor said. “For example, the journey into the lair is extraordinary. We get a more literal sense of corridors backstage and opera house rooftop. We use a revolving two-story drum throughout the show that turns and shifts create new locations. Audiences will definitely see more clarity as we go from scene to scene.”
The technology that goes into this production shapes the sets, lighting, sound and pyrotechnics. It supports the storytelling while putting the focus on the characters. “The more real the environment seems, the more honest the story,” Connor said. Paul Brown’s new design elements can also be brought on and off stage faster, giving the storytelling a more fluid flow.
Connor is especially excited for audiences to see the characters of the Phantom and Christine resonate in new ways. “In this production, the relationships dramatize themselves,” he said. “The story is very much led by the actors. And we’re seeing more of the story through Christine’s eyes. Christine’s journey is more dramatic. It allows audiences to get a sense of her background, her history. It’s always felt like the Phantom’s story, but now we’re very much in tune with where Christine is in her life. We see how she transforms from naïve to fighting for her independence.”
As a result of the new emphasis this production places on Christine, it was essential to find the right actress who can be everything Christine is meant to be, and who can both sing those incredible notes and act the journey. They found her in Julia Rose Udine, who will be making her national tour debut in this production after playing another musical theater icon, Maria in West Side Story. The Phantom is being played by Mark Campbell, whose previous roles have included The Beast in Beauty and the Beast, Sky in Guys and Dolls and Harold Hill in The Music Man. Mark has dreamed of playing this role since he was 14.
What else will be different about this production? “Ears and expectations have changed over 25 years and that’s been reflected,” said John Rigby, musical supervisor. “Because the drama is grittier, the orchestrations we’re using are a little darker. We’re using a cinematic approach to the score, working with the sound department to tell the story in a familiar way, but in a way that resonates with a 21st-century audience.”
As the new tour takes to the road, the brilliant original production of Phantom continues its record-breaking runs in London and on Broadway as well as productions in Budapest, Hungary; Hamburg, Germany; Kyoto, Japan; and Seoul, South Korea. An international juggernaut, the original Phantom has had over 65,000 performances which have been seen in 28 countries and 148 cities in 13 languages.
The North America tour includes the following dates and cities below with many more to be announced soon:
- Providence, RI – Providence Performing Arts Center, November 27–December 7, 2013
- Minneapolis, MN – Orpheum Theatre, December 13, 2013–January 5, 2014
- Chicago, IL – Cadillac Palace Theatre, January 9–March 2, 2014
- Columbus, OH – Ohio Theatre, March 5–March 16, 2014
- Philadelphia, PA – The Academy of Music, March 19–April 13, 2014
- Rochester, NY – Auditorium Theatre, April 16–April 27, 2014
- Cincinnati, OH – Aronoff Center, April 30–May 11, 2014
- Greenville, SC – The Peace Center, May 14–May 25, 2014
- Schenectady, NY – Proctors, May 28–June 8, 2014
- Appleton, WI – Fox Cities PAC, June 11–June 22, 2014
- Boston, MA, Boston Opera House, June 26–July 20, 2014
- Milwaukee, WI – Uihlein Hall, July 23–August 3, 2014
- Des Moines, IA – Civic Center, September 10–September 21, 2014