The Phantom of the Opera unmasked at Austin’s Bass Concert Hall
decades ago, The Phantom of the Opera was my first exposure to high quality musical theatre. When he took the stage in 1986, he set the bar extremely high. I think it is fair to say that the phenomenon which is Phantom is unique and has never been reproduced and never will be. Not just because it broke all sorts of box office records in its day and is still the longest-running Broadway show of all time, but because of the haunting score that propels its audience into a deep cave of emotions.
Music supervisor John Rigby is quick to praise the merits of The Phantom of the Opera and its composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber. “I think his contribution to the world of musical theater cannot be underestimated – he is one of the greatest living composers of musical theatre.”
Phantom tells the story of a soprano singer who is the object of the affection of a disfigured musical genius. The award-winning show that is over 30 years old has been reimagined and tours with a cast of over 50, including extremely talented musicians.
Rigby has prepared the current orchestra and cast for the tour, which kicks off at Bass Concert Hall on April 19 for nearly two weeks. He has a long history of working with Andrew Lloyd Webber and says that although the current tour production has some differences from previous tours, the score remains intact. “It’s one of Andrew’s most well-known and beloved creations – it’s not something we want to mess with, but we’ve revised the orchestration.”
Rigby says that in preparation for Phantom’s 25th anniversary tour several years ago, the show was revisited to determine how it could be updated for 21st century audiences. “I think that’s one of the hallmarks of a great piece of musical theater – that they resist re-examination and different productions in the same way that opera and Shakespeare do.”
The Austin-stopping production features updated sets, costumes, direction and stage design. Rigby says he has a “sweep” that matches the music. “There’s a dramatic dynamic, so we kind of wanted to find a way to reflect that in the orchestration so that when people are in the theater they feel like they’re being driven by the sound as much as the visuals.”
Rigby was quick to sum up the unwavering appeal of The Phantom of the Opera over the years. “It’s a classic love story told through the most passionate and glorious music.” And he says it’s the music that made it possible Phantom such a long story, “But I’m probably biased,” he admits.
that you have seen Phantom five times or not at all, it’s a show that never gets old. “I like to say it’s the same old grape wine, but served in new glasses,” says Rigby.
You can take The Phantom of the Opera at the Bass Concert Hall from April 19 to 30.