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The Maury Yeston Songbook - Music Book
Hersam Acorn: Brilliant production of Phantom
By FRAN SIKORSKI
By now, most theatergoers are aware there are two musical productions of the 1911 Gaston Leroux novel, The Phantom of the Opera, the Andrew Lloyd Webber version continuing on Broadway for 20 years and the Arthur Kopit-Maury Yeston Phantom, an outstanding commercial success at theaters throughout the United States.
The Kopit-Yeston Phantom has a powerful story and includes an emotional explanation of how the Phantom, given the name Erik in this version, was disfigured and exiled himself to the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera House. Phantom was eventually produced in 1991 in regional theaters and has remained a success ever since.
|Now in its third production, a spectacular one, at the Westchester Broadway Theater in Elmsford, N.Y., through Nov. 25, the Arthur Kopit-Maury Yeston Phantom will be in hiatus while A Christmas Carol plays during the holiday season, resuming Dec. 27 to Feb. 9.
The last time Phantom played at Westchester Broadway Theatre, the run was extended for nine months. Don’t be surprised if this happens again with the new leads, Aaron Ramey as the Phantom, and Kate Rockwell, a runner-up in the Grease You’re the One I Want television show, as Christine Daee. James Van Treuren returns as Gerard Carriere, the Phantom’s guardian, and Sandy Rosenberg is the jealous opera diva Carlotta. All voices are outstanding. Full Story Phantom: The American Musical Sensation (1992 Studio Cast)
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Check out PHANTOM!!
Cue Review: Phantom is "a thrilling night"
By Judie Phillips
PHANTOM at The Westchester Broadway Theatre is a thrilling night of theatre. And just in time to brighten the holiday season. If you want to give yourself a treat, or better yet, if you have those people for whom it is impossible to buy for, run, do not walk, to the box office at the Westchester Broadway Theatre and sign up. Even better, treat you and yours to a box and experience what theatre is supposed to be.
Originally produced at this theatre in 1992 (running through 1993), this version of Gaston Leroux's "The Phantom of the Opera," created by the team of Arthur Kopit (book) and Maury Yeston (music and lyrics) was an instant hit. And it is impossible to think that this anniversary reprisal will not also appeal to all who venture in because this musical has it all. It is set in Paris - how romantic can you get? It is haunting, poignant, musically compelling, replete with intriguing characters fully dimensional and, in this production, bursting at the seams with talent, both on the stage and in the hands of the technical staff. Because let's face it, this is a piece that relies as much on costumes, special effects, sets and lighting as it does on the vocal agility and acting talent of the performers.
So, at the risk of being accused of setting out a laundry list, let us begin with the "tech". Gail Baldoni's costumes are sumptuous, detailed and evoke the early 19th century perfectly. Gerard Kelly's hair must be included here. (Loved the chorus boy with the big hair). George Puello and Steven Loftus with their catwalk and abundant use of the revolve transport us to Paris with a minimalism that supports and frames the performers but does not get in their way. Always good at this theatre but especially important for this production is Andrew Gmoser's lighting. I especially loved his use of the color orange on the revolve. Excellent choice. And lastly what can one say about the supremely effective but always controlled special effects credited to Peter Barbieri Jr. Usually shows are upstaged by effects and particularly fog machines but none of that occurs under Mr. Barbieri's watch. Well done indeed!
One would expect the vocal expertise of the performers in a musical such as this and all too often it occurs at the expense of the acting. Well fear not, that is not the case here. The voices are wonderful. But, guess what? They can act too. Kate Rockwell's Christine is simply lovely as she portrays innocence, fear, compassion - you name it - with ease. GREASE's loss is our gain. We will see her again. So don't miss her. Aaron Ramey has to create a human being without using his face (he is given a number of beautiful masks during the piece) and still he instills our sympathy as an audience. Nice job! If James Van Treuren is not a parent, he should be. Portraying Eric's father with all the sensitivity one could ask for, he is terrific.
But this PHANTOM also contains humor and to that end one has to mention Sandy Rosenberg (Carlotta) and Gary Marachek (Cholet). They could do a sit-com married couple. Although Carlotta has an evil streak we still love to see her enter the stage because we know something outrageous will happen. And it usually does. I especially loved her diction. It is especially irritating when a performer is doing a comedic number and one cannot understand the words. Sandy obviates this problem with ease. And Gary has a chuckle that I wish I could bottle. Wonderful comic timing. Kudos to both.
The musical direction of PHANTOM is under the baton of Patrick Q. Kelly. This is his first production with WBT and we hope he will be back. He supports the production - he does not try to drown it out. And lastly, let me send a standing ovation to Tom Polum (Director) and Jonathan Stahl (Musical Staging). Finally directors who realize that this is a three-quarter round vehicle and should be directed and staged as such. Very, very well done. Thank you.
PHANTOM will continue on the WBT stage through November 25th before taking a hiatus for the holiday show and will than will return. For information, call 914/ 592-2222.