Phantom of the Opera Dazzles at the Broward Center but Fails to Connect | County Grind | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida


Phantom of the Opera Dazzles at the Broward Center but Fails to Connect

It's hard to turn a classic on its head, especially when you're talking about one of the most performed and beloved musicals of all time.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera has hooked children into theater and dazzled audiences young and old since its premiere in 1986, and yet, it felt sometimes as if the audience at the Broward Center on Friday night never truly connected with the performers onstage.

Was that because the performance itself was somewhat muddled, or was the performance somewhat muddled because the audience was rude? It's hard to tell. One thing is certain though -- the stagecraft of this Phantom is absolutely as brilliant as anything we've ever seen.

We've enjoyed many performances at the Broward Center in the past, but there must have been something in the air that made people act like animals. The magic was ruined from the very beginning. It was difficult to hear the auctioneer of the opening scene, a most-important part of the musical during which the audience falls under the spell. People acted like it was some optional prelude and talked right through it.

And as soon as the scene was over, this endless procession of loud, rude latecomers were hustled to their seats by ushers with just as little regard for the rest of the audience. There were times when we couldn't make out the actors' voices at all. Nothing takes you out of the magic sooner than a confused theater patron flashing his light in your face wondering which seat is his.

But it's also true that this was a most operatically performed version of the classic, and by that, we mean that everyone sang in rich and heavy voices that were as beautiful as they were difficult to understand. We knew what was being said because we've seen Phantom a variety of times, but our friend who had never seen it before left having understand only half or so, and Phantom does have such beautiful lyrics.

Not that the acting was bad, mind you. We can see why Julia Udine's Christine would be tapped for the Broadway performance, and we loved Jacqeulynne Fontaine's Carlotta from the moment she started. Ben Jacoby's Raoul was as dreamy as any, and Cooper Grodin's Phantom was a strong and masculine one, even if we're not too sure he's our absolute favorite.

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Kat Bein is a freelance writer and has been described as this publication’s "senior millennial correspondent." She has an impressive, if unhealthy, knowledge of all things pop culture.

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