THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - Katie Travis and Chris Mann - photo by Matthew MurphyWhile “The Phantom of the Opera” has been a guest at the Paramount several times over the years, its return this time promises something a bit different.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - The Company performs Masquerade - photo by Alastair Muir
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA – The Company performs Masquerade. Photo by Alastair Muir.

Casey Bui, co-president of the board of trustees of the Wing Luke, dresses in the classic suit of Bruce Lee and performs a technique of Kung Fu amid the crowd in front of the museum on Oct 4. Photo by Senhao Liu.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA – Chris Mann and Katie Travis. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

From left to right, Shannon Lee, Lee’s wife Linda Lee Cadwell, and Lee’s schoolmate Alan Lai, share memories of Bruce Lee at the opening ceremony. Photo by Senhao Liu.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA – Chris Mann and Katie Travis. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

While “The Phantom of the Opera” has been a guest at the Paramount several times over the years, its return this time promises something a bit different.

For many theatergoers, including myself who have been seeing the “Phantom” for the third time at this Seattle theatre, undoubtedly will linger on the memory of the very first encounter. No matter how many times we see the show, again and again, everything is “inside your mind.”

The original producer, Cameron Mackintosh, retains the beloved story and score by Andrew Lloyd Webber, while reimaging the entire set, lighting, and sound for this new production. As theatrical technology has advanced significantly since 1986 (when the original “Phantom” began in London), the creative team restaged and reconceived this spectacular musical.

However, questions remain, is this new production of “Phantom” still the “Phantom” I know and love? Is it bigger and better?

Maybe. The new set feels real and refreshing, and sometimes magical. The multistory drum that moves and rotates to reveal various scenes, especially the amazing descending staircase, is a nice surprise. The curtains and backdrops along with the fantastic lighting design also give the musical some special kicks. The effects are theatrically exciting as well. But the problem with spectacle, is that it quickly fades.

Chris Mann delivers a fine performance with a strong voice, but sometimes his youthfulness hinders him to portray the obsessive, creepy, enraged monster. Katie Travis brings a caring and passionate Christine with a lovely voice. But all together, there is little chemistry between them, nor in the relationship between Storm Lineberger’s Raoul and Christine. Their romance feels halfhearted and distant.

The supporting cast, is strong and convincing, led by Jacquelynne Fontaine, who nails the opera diva Carlotta with a delightful voice. Anne Kanengeiser’s Madame Giry is also well-performed.

It is always a challenge to stay relevant, innovative, yet honoring the brilliants of the core. For those who have seen the original version may compare every single littler detail in their head. For others, it’s simple: you cannot not see the “Phantom.”

Now playing through May 10 at the Paramount Theatre.

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