The Phantom of the Opera has been around for a long time. It’s a classic novel and has had various reincarnations on stage and in the movies. But the retelling has never been more powerful than when Andrew Lloyd Webber took his turn at turning the 1909 story, by French writer Gaston Leroux, into a musical. It is now the longest running Broadway show in history.
The national tour of the acclaimed musical is coming to L.A.’s Pantages Theatre on the final leg of its farewell tour, from Sept. 23 to Oct. 31. It will be the full, ultra-spectacular production that was seen on Broadway and loved by millions.
Why do audiences love the Phantom of the Opera so much? To find out, I had a delightful chat with Trista Moldovan, who plays the lead role of Christine Daae in the show. She made me laugh when she explained, “There’s something for everyone. For the ladies, there’s romance with Christine caught in the love triangle with the Phantom and Raoul. And for the men, there’s pyrotechnics and a lot of cleavage.” Well, you’ve got to love that!
In addition to those great reasons, Moldovan said it strikes a chord with fans because “it’s a story about an underdog, and someone who is very misunderstood.”
“People find that incredibly endearing,” she said. “Add to that the spectacle and the music, which is just so gorgeous. I think that’s why people have come back time after time.
“There’s something mysterious and alluring about a man in a mask. As the play goes on, the Phantom’s story is revealed and he’s made even more endearing because you find out that he’s this incredibly vulnerable, misunderstood man. He’s not a monster.”
But the Gothic story does offer the appealing combination of danger and romance. Presenting the danger is Tim Martin Gleason as the Phantom, and Sean MacLaughin plays Christine’s love-struck suitor Raoul.
Living out every woman’s dream, Moldovan gushed about being caught in the middle of these two passionate men.
“I am so lucky to be playing with Tim as the Phantom, and Sean as Raoul,” she said. “We have a great rapport. To be in this love triangle with them adds to my feelings about how lucky I am to be doing this part.”
Rounding out the cast is Kim Stengel as Carlotta, D.C. Anderson as Monsieur Andre, Michael McCoy as Monsieur Firmin, Nancy Hess as Madame Giry, Luke Grooms as Piangi, and Paloma Garcia-Lee as Meg. The production was directed by the legendary Harold Prince, with music by Webber and lyrics by Charles Hart.
Moldovan was just 12 years old growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, when she saw The Phantom of the Opera. It was this same national touring company (it’s been on the road continuously for 17 years now) which came to town and left her spellbound.
“It solidified my desire to pursue musical theater,” she said.
The lovely soprano has been on tour for two years with the company, and said the show’s Los Angeles farewell engagement is bittersweet because it holds such a special place in her heart.
“But on the flip side, I’m looking forward to getting back home to New York City and getting into some new projects,” she said.
The Phantom of the Opera at Hollywood’s historic Pantages Theatre is the first show of the new season, followed by a couple of other classic musicals, including West Side Story from Nov. 30 to Dec. 19, and Hair, which will run from Jan. 5 through the 23, 2011. That’s an exciting start to the New Year.