I saw “The Phantom of the Opera” US tour on August 30, 2014 in Oklahoma City, Okla. The cast stared Cooper Grodin as the Phantom, Julia Udine as Christine, Nick Cartell understudying as Raoul, Linda Balgord as Madame Giry and Tara Sweeny understudying as Meg Giry. The US tour, as most “Phans” know, is different from the original. It has different sets, the blocking is different, a few different costumes and a few different lyrics in a few songs.
Grodin, despite having mixed reviews, did a good job as the Phantom. He has a beautiful voice, but he does need to work on his blocking, he was difficult to hear at first during “The Mirror,” but his “Music of the Night” made up for that. His Phantom speaking voice needs a bit of work because it did not sound completely intimidating and his portrayal of Phantom was a bit rough, and he would throw Christine to the ground. During the “Final Lair” he was purposely hurting Christine and forced her into her wedding dress, but Grodin’s portrayal of the Phantom did love Christine.
Udine was amazing as Christine. For a woman of 21 years of age she has a lot of power in her voice and was a phenomenal actress as well. Cartell did an amazing job as Raoul; he really showed that he was protecting Christine and that he did love her. Cartell had a great voice as well, hard to believe he is an understudy. Balgord did a great job as Madame Giry. She really seemed like a motherly type of Madame Giry, which was nice to see. Sweeny did a great job as Meg and has a great voice. Hard to believe that she is an understudy. Jacqelynne Fontaine did a great job as Carlotta, great voice and a great actress. Frank Viveros did a great job as Piangi, definitely brought some humor to the character. Brad Oscar did a great job as M. Firmin, great voice and humorous in the role. Edward Staudenmayer did a great job as M. Andre’, great portrayal of the role.
The set itself was amazing. The set actually looked like an opera house and the new set is amazing, right down to the chandelier. Great use of the stage, it looked like a revolving and sliding stage. The choreography was different, especially in “Music of the Night” and “Point of No Return.” Even the “Final Lair” was staged differently with the Phantom and Christine, but the Phantom especially.
Having seen the original twice on tour and once on Broadway, the new set actually did impress me, as I was expecting it to be mediocre. Several different things in the tour involved the Phantom dancing with Christine while she was blindfolded during “Music of the Night” and danced with her again during “Point of No Return.” The Phantom can dance who knew? However, I miss the bridal doll, the Phantom’s throne chair and the red death costume from the original, as the red death costume in the tour made the Phantom look like a solider from the army. The “Wandering Child” was fairly good, but the blocking and choreography could use some work. Regarding Cooper Grodin, I will say that he has a beautiful voice. I got teary during “Music of the Night,” and I never get teary during that song. Overall the new tour is a must see for any “Phan.”