65,000 worldwide performances and still going strong, The Phantom of the Opera makes its triumphant return to The Fabulous Fox. Updated with several new technical aspects, this production manages to transport the audience to a magical place chock full of immortal songs and sumptuous sights.  
Debuting in 1986 in London, the stage production is the brainchild of Andrew Lloyd Webber and producer Cameron Mackintosh. Based on the French novel, Le Fantôme de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux, the story centers around Christine Daaé, a beautiful soprano opera singer who is being tutored as well as lusted after by the Phantom of the Opera. The Phantom's obsession with her turns to a dark side once Raoul, a former playmate of Christine's, shows a love interest in the singer. Juicy love triangles are a staple for musical theater.
To reduce the production to that one storyline is almost an injustice. But to go into the details here seems to be equally fruitless. This musical has been around for 29 years, you should all be well aware of the iconic story. If not, the internet has many resources for you to check it out. The production even has its own web page.
So how does one critique a show that has enjoyed so many years of successful theatrical runs (grossing 6 billion dollars worldwide). Well, there are three areas I can comment on: the performances, the sets, and the music.
Let's start with the performances first. Katie Travis' portrayal as Christine was dazzling. Mind you, this is a role that was originally portrayed by Sarah Brightman – those are some big musical shoes to fill. Fortunately, Travis was a highlight of the show as she filled the large theater hall with her heavenly voice. Case in point, her performance of the show's title track sent chills down my spine – a real crowd pleaser.Travis' counterpart, Chris Mann as The Phantom of the Opera, was just acceptable. Not that his performance was subpar, but it just wasn't that impressive. While he did a fine job in physically representing The Phantom, his vocal delivery felt strained and overworked.
Fortunately, the rest of the cast all turned in outstanding performances including Storm Lineberger as Raoul, Jacquelynne Fontaine as Carlotta, and Anne Kanengeiser as Madame Giry. This cast as a whole is a joy to watch.
The sets of the show are – in a word – breathtaking. It was fascinating to watch the massive stage rotate and unfold throughout the production. From the stairs that seem to appear out of the side of a wall to the floating boat onstage, every set  had a unique character.  The logistics of moving so many massive sets and props around has to be a technical achievement in itself. And yes, they have finally achieved a believable crashing of the chandelier. Combining the sets with exceptional visual effects makes this production of Phantom one to stand out for all the right reasons.
Now onto my favorite part of this show – the music. Those opening chords of the title track (those chords! ) still haunt and embrace me to this day. My love of a live orchestra is well known, and the fact that 10 local musicians joined the touring members made this production's performance that much sweeter. So many outstanding musical performances including “All I Ask of You,” “The Music of the Night”  and “Down Once More/Track Down This Murderer” (which brought a tear to my eye) made me want to buy the soundtrack to this production.
Outstanding performances, gorgeous sets and costumes and legendary music all combine brilliantly to make this production the high point (so far, I see you coming Kinky Boots) of the Fabulous Fox's 2015 season. This production of Phantom is a musical gem of the highest caliber and is a must see for all theater lovers.
The Phantom of the Opera plays through March 15th. Please visit for show times and ticket prices.
You can follow me on Twitter @ReviewerJim.

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