A spectacular, special effects-laden production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera has pulled out all the stops for its return to Proctors Theatre in Schenectady. The classic musical about a mysterious, masked figure, who lives beneath the Paris Opera House and develops an infatuation with a talented soprano, is the longest-running Broadway show in history, and had its opening night at Proctors’ MainStage on Thursday, April 25.
This newer version of Phantom, by Cameron Mackintosh, who produced the original 1986 production, packs a lot of stage magic and a few new surprises. “The designers and directors have kind of reinvented the wheel to make it a more cinematic production,” says the Stage Manager Mitchell Hodges. “You’re watching things fade, wipe across, dissolve—you’re not waiting for a scene change upstage.” The updated production, which first came to Proctors in 2014, boasts reinvented staging, elaborate scenic design and new choreography by Scott Ambler, as well as new staging by Director Laurence Connor. The show’s original costume designs and iconic 2500-pound chandelier will also make their triumphant return to Proctors, in addition to a panoply of lighting and pyrotechnic special effects. “We actually have to get a pyro license for most of [these] effects,” says Hodges.
All fireworks aside, the show is shipping in some serious star power, with a cast and orchestra of 52 strong, making this one of the largest productions currently on tour in the US. Quentin Oliver Lee, who’s performed on Broadway in Porgy and Bess, will be portraying the titular role of the Phantom. Lee’s the fourth African-American actor to portray the Phantom, and his performances at Proctors will be his last on this tour of the show. “Playing the Phantom has been an incredible journey, and I’ll always cherish the memories and friends that I’ve made along the way,” he tells saratoga living. Lee’s Thursday-night performance marked his debut at Proctors, plus his first-ever visit to the Capital Region. “The people have been terrific, and Proctors is surprisingly beautiful,” says Lee. “I think the lush set of The Phantom of the Opera fits perfectly with the Proctors’ decor.”
The new-and-improved production of Phantom first opened in the US in November 2013, and has been seen by more than 4.5 million people across North America. The show is running at Proctors through Sunday, May 5, with more than a dozen performances scheduled. Tickets range from $25 to $115. For more information, visit proctors.org.