The Phantom of the Opera is one of the shows I’ve seen numerous times, both in New York and on tour. It’s been more than a decade since I’ve seen it on Broadway. The casting of Norm Lewis as The Phantom is what made me go see it again.
Lewis, who has won great acclaim for Porgy & Bess, The Little Mermaid, a concert version of Ragtime and Les Miserables to name a few roles, is now the first African-American Phantom on Broadway. He is stunning in the show. His voice has a power and range that I don’t recall any other Phantom that I’ve seen possessing. To me, and my untrained ear, it sounded like he was singing in a lower register most of that the time and that gave him more authority and gravitas in some of the passages. That said, he also hit all the high, long notes in “Music of the Night” that you’d expect of anyone playing The Phantom.
Returning to the cast to perform with Lewis was Sierra Boggess, who we’ve seen previously in the Phantom 25th Anniversary Concert on DVD. She is a wonderful Christine. In particular her “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” was extraordinary. We’ve wanted to see Boggess on stage several times, previously when she was in Phantom during its 25th Anniversary, as well as The Little Mermaid, but those did not happen. We’re glad to have finally seen her perform live.
The show overall is looking great. It’s in its twenty-sixth year on Broadway and everything looks and sounds perfect. Somehow the show doesn’t feel like a product of the late 80s. The audience is still engaged too. Just as when I’d first seen it on Broadway in the early 90s, some members of the audience still applauded as the chandelier rises to the ceiling during the overture. The audience was also at near capacity even though it was a Thursday afternoon.
I had a great time revisiting this musical, one of my favorites, and hearing Lewis and Boggess deliver powerful performances.