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New 'Phantom of the Opera' combines comedy and drama with exciting staging

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'Phantom of the Opera'

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Cameron Mackintosh has unmasked his new production of “Phantom of the Opera” at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace. Recently sold- out in its introductory UK tour, the Chicago opening, Jan. 15, 2014, is the US premiere.

It is very much a compelling operetta rather than a typical stage musical.

Following a spoken prologue in a dark section of the Paris Opera House (the Palais Garnier) in 1911 and skipping a grand staircase scene, the music begins in the late 1800s with an opera rehearsal on stage of that opera house. An elephant rolled on stage in the background clues in audiences of the production’s terrific set designs and its comedic moments.

Indeed, the Mackintosh production has Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famed show unfolding with Mozart-like comic-opera touches see-sawed with high drama.

As in operas and operettas, the characters sing their words between their solos, duets, trios and cross-purpose, everyone-buts-in arguments.

The songs and orchestration, however, are hauntingly beautiful. Webber’s music and Charles Hart’s lyrics (additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe who did the book with Webber) are gorgeously expressed by Cooper Grodin (Phantom) Julia Udine (Christine Daaé) and Ben Jacoby (Raoul) and the orchestra directed by Richard Carsey.

It is hard not to leave the theater without “The Music of the Night” lyrically pulsing through the brain.

This is not the movie version or the productions formerly and currently playing in the US. The Mackintosh production is fresh with exquisite sets by Paul Brown.

Details: Phantom of the Opera” is at the Cadillac Palace theatre, 151 W. Randolph St. Chicago, IL now through March 2, 2014. For tickets and more information call 800, 775-2000 or visit Broadway in Chicago.

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