Triangle Arts and Entertainment – News and Reviews Theatre Dance Music Arts

DPAC’s “Phantom” Proves Some Stories Are Better Left Unchanged

Cooper Grodin and Julia Udine portray The Phantom and his protégé, Christine Daaé, in the 2014 North American Tour of "The Phantom of the Opera" (photo Matthew Murphy)

Cooper Grodin and Julia Udine portray The Phantom and his protégé, Christine Daaé, in the 2014 North American Tour of “The Phantom of the Opera” (photo Matthew Murphy)

DPAC’s all new (but not too-new) production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera,” is quite the exciting experience. It takes some of the play’s most iconic scenes- the chandelier that crashes to the ground and the gondola ride that takes Christine (Julia Udine) down into the phantom’s lair and puts a whole new, high-tech spin on them without straying too far from the classic storyline or the original score. However, scenes play out very quickly, and some exposition is left out- despite the show’s two hour and forty-five minute runtime- making it potentially hard to follow for newcomers to the story.

Despite these minor flaws, the production is intriguing. Much of its intrigue comes from its stunning visuals. Set designer Paul Brown outdoes himself, creating a spooky, engaging atmosphere through candles, cobwebs, and other appropriate accouterments. It also has to be said that his version of the famed and ill-fated chandelier is spectacular. When lighted, the set-piece is so bright that it hurts viewer’s eyes, and the sound effects and visuals employed as it comes crashing down are enough to make even the most non-engrossed viewer jump.

The show also features gorgeous, elaborate choreography and, as a major strength, retains the original, much-loved music. The entire cast is musically gifted and brings the show’s much-loved songs to full and beautiful life. Songs that are done particular justice include “All I Ask of You” and “The Music of the Night.”

The show is definitely and obviously intended for die hard “Phantom” fans and despite its strong acting, newcomers to the story are likely to be confused. Laurence Connor’s direction also tends to be tiresome at times. He attempts to milk every moment of tension possible out of the more dramatic scenes, but the result is a slow motion, soap-opera effect that makes a mockery of the story’s subtleties. The bottom line is that big-time “Phantom” fans will likely be pleased while others will (and should) feel a little bit cheated; despite technological advances and the subsequent special effects that this new production includes, the original version is better.

Jacquelynne Fontaine plays Italian opera diva Carlotta Giudicelli in "Phantom" (photo Matthew Murphy)

Jacquelynne Fontaine plays Italian opera diva Carlotta Giudicelli in “Phantom” (photo Matthew Murphy)

The Durham Performing Arts Center presents THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 15 and 16, 8 p.m. Oct. 17, 2 and 8 p.m. Oct. 18, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.

TICKETS: $57.83-$179.31 (including fees)


DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787),, or

Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or

GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587,, or

SHOW: and


THE TOUR:,,, and








NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 15th, performance.

CONTENT ADVISORY: DPAC warns, “[This show is] Not recommended for young children.”

PARENTAL ADVISORY: DPAC advises, “All guests require a ticket, regardless of age. Children under the age of 6 will not be admitted to the theater. Children must be able to sit quietly in their own seat without disturbing other guests. As a further courtesy to our guests, DPAC recommends one parent or chaperone for every one child in attendance.”


The Phantom of the Opera (Le Fantôme de l’Opéra) (1910 French novel): (Wikipedia).

Gaston Leroux (French author and journalist, 1868-1927): (official website) and (Wikipedia).

The Phantom of the Opera (1986 West End and 1988 Broadway musical): (official website), (Andrew Lloyd Webber web page), (Internet Broadway Database), (Wikipedia).

Andrew Lloyd Webber (music and book): (official website), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

Charles Hart (lyrics): (tour bio) and (Wikipedia).

Richard Stilgoe (additional lyrics and book): (tour bio) and (Wikipedia).

Laurence Connor (2014 tour director): (Global Artists bio) and (tour bio), (Twitter page).

Cameron Mackintosh (London producer): (official website), (tour bio),

The Really Useful Theatre Company (London producer): (official website) and (tour bio).

NETworks Presentations, LLC (Columbia, MD producer): (official website).


Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click To read more of her writings, click and

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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews, Theatre