The perennial Broadway hit “The Phantom of the Opera” has a long history with the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, stretching all the way back to 1991, when the show inaugurated the center.
This month, the musical is back in Fort Lauderdale for the sixth time with a 10-day run that promises a refreshed and reinvented staging. Mitch Hodges, stage manager for the road tour for the past two years, says this “Phantom” has taken advantage of technological advances in theatric effects over the past two decades.
“Now, you can have an almost cinematic show,” Hodges explains. “So you’re not waiting for a scene change to happen. You’re kind of with the actor in every single move. I can’t give you too many specifics, but I can definitely tell you there’s more pyro. There’s more special effects. There’s more spectacular things you wouldn’t have had 20 years ago and things that’ll just wow you and take your breath away, literally and figuratively.”
Davie resident and Phantom-phile Sharon West saw the musical for the 100th time on opening night Wednesday, Oct. 10. She first saw “Phantom” in 1991, also at the Broward Center.
“You never get tired of really good things and this feeds the soul,” West says. “More than just the spirit, this feeds the soul. The music — of course everyone knows Andrew Loyd Webber’s music. The costumes are perfection. The scenery is really novel. They redid this a couple of years ago, so if you’ve seen ‘Phantom,’ you may not have seen this updated version, which I think it a little sexier. It’s pretty cool.”
“Phantom” is about an "opera ghost" who cruelly tricks a naive ingenue, Christine Daae, into thinking he is the "Angel of Music" her late father promised to send from the other side. Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny, is the Phantom's romantic rival for Christine's love, and promises to protect her. But the Phantom is a wily foe, capable of contriving deadly contraptions and mind-boggling escapes.
The musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber opened in London’s West End in 1986 and on New York’s Broadway in 1988. Until “The Lion King” won out in 2104, “Phantom” was the most financially successful stage show, grossing more than $5.6 billion worldwide. A 2004 film version starred Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Minnie Driver and Miranda Richardson. A sequel titled “Love Never Dies” toured internationally and made a stop at the Broward Center in November 2017.
“The Phantom of the Opera” runs Oct. 10-21 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., in Fort Lauderdale. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and 6:30 Sundays, with matinees 2 p.m. Saturdays and1 p.m. Sundays. Tickets cost $35-$125. To order call 954-462-0222 or go to BrowardCenter.org.