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Review: Should you see 'Phantom' again? Oh, yes

‘The Phantom of the Opera” is more than a megahit musical. It’s a Broadway brand, with more than 140 million people in 35 countries having caught a production, according to the “Phantom” website. That works out to an estimated gross of $6 billion since it opened in London’s West End in 1986 and on New York’s Great White Way in 1987.

Not bad for a show about a singing sociopath.

And if you needed any more proof of its moneymaking mojo, the current Fort Lauderdale run of “Phantom” through Oct. 21 is the sixth time that a national tour has touched down at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. A road tour opened the center back in 1991 and, subsequently, other productions have landed in West Palm Beach and Miami.

With all that being said, should you bother?

Oh, yes. This is a handsome staging, as if the whole production — which gets its DNA from the 1910 Gaston Leroux novel “Le Fantôme de l’Opéra” — has been dusted off and polished so it comes off more Technicolor lush than ever. The sets swirl and spin into place, giving the story’s action a filmic fluidity. Phantom-philes (Davie’s Sharon West celebrated her 100th time seeing the show Wednesday night) will note that the score seems to be tightened here and there, and the emotional seesawing makes more sense now with deft little touches of storytelling.

A bit of a mashup of “A Star Is Born” and “Halloween,” the stage musical “Phantom” is about a brilliant but horribly disfigured composer and inventor haunting an opera house in 19th century Paris and wreaking havoc for singing ingenue Christine Daaé (Eva Tavares), with whom he has an obsession. But before the “opera ghost” (Quentin Oliver Lee) can get his goth on with Christine, he has to dispatch his romantic rival Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny (Jordan Craig). As if that weren’t enough drama, the love triangle has another acute angle with the opera company’s resident diva, Carlotta Giudicelli (Trista Moldovan), who resents Christine’s rise to prima donna status.

The cast sings Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score with vibrancy. There is a musk of seduction in the Phantom’s voice when he lures Christine into his lair, and Moldovan has real star power with her solo, something not always evident in previous productions.

And yet there is something about the climax, perhaps the blocking, that feels off, mitigating the menace and draining the big payoff (which we’ve been anticipating for two hours, with a 15-minute intermission).

Thankfully, it is not what you remember as much as the lush takes on “Phantom” hits such as “The Music of the Night,” “Prima Donna,” “All I Ask of You,” “Masquerade,” “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again,” “The Point of No Return” and, of course, that throbbing title song.

“The Phantom of the Opera” runs through Oct. 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 and 1 p.m. Sundays. Tickets cost $35-$125. To order call 954-462-0222 or go to BrowardCenter.org.

rhagwood@southflorida.com

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