A most chilling musical

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In this, the spookiest of months, I had the chance to go to The Hippodrome, for the first time, and see Cameron Mackintosh’s marvelous new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera.” I have one word for it: Magical. This beautiful and daring performance is still going strong after more than 30 years in Broadway and I was honored to be given the chance to see it here in Baltimore.

I went with my friend Kayla, who is a huge theater fan. We were both very excited to see this phenomenal performance. From the moment curtains went up to the final bow, both Kayla and I were fully attentive. The performance has thrilling special effects including fog, fire and sparks, glorious stage design and enchanting choreography, especially in the performance of “Masquerade,” which will leave you speechless.

Small spoiler: There is also self-destructing chandelier that will literally make you scream.

For those who do not know what the musical is about, “The Phantom of the Opera” is an unusual love triangle story. In 19th century Paris, a disfigured man hides within his opera house. He falls in love with a woman named Christine to whom he had been giving vocal lessons and for whom he strong arms the opera house’s new managers to give leading roles.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Christine is both intrigued by the Phantom’s voice, but disgusted by his appearance. She is torn when it comes to love. Why wouldn’t she be? The Phantom is her “Angel of Music,” but she also has a fiancée named Raoul, played by Jordan Craig, who at first does not believe there is a phantom. The Phantom eventually discloses his love for Christine, which sets up a battle between him and Raoul.

The Phantom, played by Derrick Davis, is the first African American to play the role on Broadway. His powerful vocal range, passion, and commitment to the role makes him an amazing choice for it. Davis owns the stage and he makes the entire audience both feel sorry for the Phantom and a bit terrified. He brings chills his heart was broken and the audience feels like they are there in his lair when he drowns in sorrow.

Emma Grimsley plays Christine beautifully. Her voice easily fills the whole theatre and her intensity with Davis is one that I’ll remember for a long time. The love and passion between them during their performance in “All I Ask of You” brought the audience to a great uproar of applause. Grimsley makes Christine elegant, yet quirky, innocent but with hints of sexiness that is intriguing. Her character changes quite a bit throughout the performance as well.

“The Phantom of the Opera” will be at the Hippodrome Theatre’s France-Merrick Performing Arts Center through Sunday, Oct. 20. france-merrickpac.com

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