‘Phantom’ to haunt Philly this fall

‘Phantom’ to haunt Philly this fall

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Halloween might be over, but there are still some macabre thrills to be had in Philly as the new touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” swoops into town through Nov. 12 at the Academy of Music.

The original musical, based on the classic French novel about a lurking villain sabotaging and terrorizing a theater, was an award-winning smash when it first opened in London in 1986 and on Broadway two years later.

Actor David Benoit, who plays Monsieur Richard Firmin in the production, said this latest revival really steps up its game to compete with the other theatrical blockbusters making the rounds today.

“It’s a good reinvention of the original,” he said. “They way they approach the material, it gets right to the true storytelling. It’s grittier, a little sexier and it’s just as epic as the original, but there’s a more realistic take to it.”

We had to ask what keeps audiences flocking back to a 30-year-old musical, which is based on a story that is well over 100 years old. Benoit said the show’s enduring appeal, much like the Phantom himself, is a mystery to him. 

“I just know that Andrew Lloyd Weber writes great hooks and people love his music,” he said. “It has a pop influence but it’s not a pop musical. I wish I knew why people keep coming back but people come in droves. It has to be because of the music because we’ve changed the look and the feel of the original. The only thing that remains of the original is the music. Even our take on the characters is different. On this tour, we take advantage of all the technological, theatrical advances that have been made and give the production a kick, make it feel a little more modern. I think we really accomplish that. You get your money’s worth because it’s not a cheap production.”

Benoit said the show’s gothic themes and dazzling visuals are drawing in and winning over younger theatergoers as well.

“The makeup is pretty amazing. The horror feel of it really attracts the young people, and the take on the characters is slightly younger than the original. The Phantom isn’t a father figure anymore; he’s a love interest and there’s a love triangle.”

Broadway Philadelphia presents “The Phantom of the Opera” through Nov. 12 at Kimmel Center’s Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad St. For more information or tickets, visit www.kimmelcenter.org or https://ustour.thephantomoftheopera.com.

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