Phantom of the Opera

Gaslight Theater's version of Phantom of the Opera

Brian Gawne

Every time I watch a rendition of one of my favorite musicals, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s adaptation of the novel “The Phantom of the Opera,” I leave the show or turn off the television thinking the same thing: This performance could have used a lively Justin Bieber song.

Thanks to the always surprising—and hilarious—troupe at the Gaslight Theatre, that completely made up desire has been fulfilled. And I have a newfound appreciation for Canada’s (former) teen heartthrob.

The moment of melodramatic glory comes a bit later in the show, and is sung by Viscount Raoul de Chagny (played by Todd Thompson) about the show’s protagonist, the lovely Christine Daaé (Heather Stricker) after he comes to realize the truth behind Daaé’s connection to “The Angel of Music.” Thematic and comical, and perfectly timed, Thompson’s delivery of the song was easily my highlight of the show.

“Phantom” fanatics won’t be surprised by any of the plot points, or conclusion of this iteration of Gaston Leroux’s classic tale. 

What will come as a pleasant surprise are the small additions penned into the performance by writer/director Peter Van Slyke, like the inclusion of a Justin Bieber song. Most hilarious are the unintended and often improvised moments between cast members. To that point, it must be noted that any time Madame Giry (played by another legend, Joe Cooper) is on the stage, a laugh or two is bound to happen.

Though having two Gaslight heavyweights on the stage at the same time in Cooper and Dirtadian may seem like enough for a two-man show, the ensemble hosts no slackers. The parts of opera singers Sorelli and Carlotta Giuducelli were played—and beautifully sung—by David Orley and Erin Thompson, respectively. Janée Page and Jake Chapman handled the roles of new opera owners Monsieur and Madame Poligny with the brevity and charm expected from their stage presences. 

Bieber isn’t the only famous artist with a song repurposed with new lyrics for “Phantom,” Aretha Franklin’s classic, “Respect” and Dion’s “The Wanderer” each make appearances, among others. As always, each song in the performance was handled perfectly by Gaslight Musical Director Linda Ackerman and The Gaslight Band.

The show runs about an hour and a half, and is followed by The Johnny Carson Olio. The must-see musical show features performances by the cast, dressed up as ABBA, Julio Iglesias, Willie Nelson, Bette Midler and more.

“The Phantom of the Opera” runs through Nov. 5, and Gaslight favorites Dirtadian, Cooper and David Fanning will perform at certain showings: Dirtadian will play The Phantom through Oct. 1, Fanning will take over the role beginning Oct. 3 through the show’s conclusion and Cooper will play Madame Giry on select dates. 

The show runs Tuesdays through Sundays at The Gaslight Theatre, 7010 E. Broadway Blvd. Tickets are $20.95 for adults, with a $2 discount for students, seniors and military. Tickets for children between 2 and 12 years old cost $10.95 (all before tax). To purchase tickets, call the box office at 866-9428 or visit 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, just outside of the theater entrance.

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