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"Phantom" comes alive at the Cadillac Palace

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Musical theatre, Phantom of the Opera

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One of the most popular and deservedly long-running stage musicals to grace the stage both on Broadway and London's West End makes its glorious and highly anticipated way to the Cadillac Palace Theatre in downtown Chicago. Cameron Mackintosh's production of Phantom of the Opera features the amazing young talent of Cooper Grodin as the Phantom; Ben Jacoby as Raoul; and Julia Rose Udine as Christine. The ornate set, taking place at the Paris Opera house, includes a lavish crystal chandelier, offering a rich and dramatic backdrop to the entire production. Major accolades are due to set designer Paul Brown. In this elegant and quite impressive adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Weber's eternal masterpiece, Udine makes her touring debut as Christine , the gifted and beautiful (both inside and out) woman, who longs to join the Opera de Paris. During rehearsals for the opera, a backdrop falls and nearly crushes one of the leading ladies, Carlotta, (Jacquelynne Fontaine), When several members of the ensemble suggest this could be the haunting work of the Phantom , Carlotta steps out, and as fate would have it, Christine steps in.

Christine's performance, both as a vocalist and ballet dancer, wows the crowd, becoming an overnight sensation, as she reaquaints with childhood friend, Raoul, now a member of high society. On the same eventful night, she realizes that the legend of the Phantom of the Opera is not a myth, though surreal. The phantom, whose stirring soul lurks within the majestic opera house, is smitten and breath-taken with Christine's charm and depth of operatic talen, as he sweeps her off her feet, and offers to write a custom made opera just for her. Betrayal, lust, intrigue, passion enter the picture, as this love triangle/tryst becomes literally enflamed with passion and sacrifice.

Two particular numbers are stand-outs. "Music of the Night," always a most haunting, memorable, and most iconic musical number of the entire show, in which the Phantom keeps Christine blindfolded for much of the song, exposing a dreamlike quality of the scene. My personal favorite, "Masquerade," opens the second act, depicting a New Year's masquerade ball at the opera house. The costumes (Maria Bjornson) and choreography (Scott Ambler) are exquisite, with the song beginning on a light, cheery note, and slowly turning more sinister; describing the power of masks to hide one's persona. This becomes a metaphor: "Masquerade! Paper faces on parade--Masquerade- hide your face so the world will never find you."

"Phantom of the Opera" is an evening of pure magic and mystique, so stylishly done, a "mega-musical" in true art form, from full Broadway size orchestra to lush, lavish set; special effects and pyrotechnics extraordinaire; choreography spectacular and costumes dazzling.

If you seek a theatre experience both entertaining and amazing, Phantom is just the ticket.

Through March 1st

Cadillac Palace Theatre 151 W. Randolph St

Tuesdays 7:30PM; Wednesdays 2 & 7:30 PM; Thursdays 7:30 PM; Fridays 7:30 PM; Saturdays 2 & 8 PM; Sundays 2 PM

(800) 775-2000 www.broadwayinchicago.com

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