Love story stands the test of time
By Leslie Frisbee
Boy meets girl, girl falls in love with boy, boy falls in love with girl; they get married and live happily ever after. That’s typically how the traditional love story goes. However, The Phantom of the Opera isn’t your traditional love story, nor is Phantom—The Las Vegas Spectacular your typical theatrical production. Entering its fifth year, which is a feat unto itself given the current economic climate and ever-changing entertainment landscape of Sin City, Phantom—The Las Vegas Spectacular is an experience like no other.
Based on the timeless novel by Gaston Leroux, the musical tells the story of a macabre Phantom, his object of obsession, opera singer Christine Daaé, and her childhood sweetheart Raoul. Layered in the complexities of a tortured love triangle are drama, intrigue, a Tony Award-winning cast and the pre-eminent composer-director tandem of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Hal Prince. However, it’s the majestic $40 million custom-built theater, state-of-the-art set theatrics and Vegas-style special effects that differentiate the Las Vegas production from its counterparts.
“The original production, when it was done in London 24 years ago, cost $9 million … today it would cost you $12 million to $14 million to do the production with that same blueprint. The production that is done here, in Las Vegas, is $35 million,” explained Tony-winning actor and Phantom Anthony Crivello.
Built to resemble the Opéra Garnier in Paris, Phantom—The Las Vegas Spectacular’s theater has been completely Vegas-ized, replete with pyrotechnics, illusions and arguably the show’s “biggest” star—a 1-ton chandelier that crashes down at a pivotal point in the musical at 35 mph, which is 30 mph faster than the chandeliers in other Phantom productions.
“You couldn’t replicate that chandelier crash in any other production of Phantom … The super structure of the building would have to be able to withstand the torque which that particular effect creates. So, the beautiful productions in London and Broadway … those old theaters would have to be totally retrofitted in order to do just that one effect,” added Crivello.
One of the most successful and longest-running musical productions in history, Phantom has been seen by approximately 100 million people in 25 countries and grossed more than $5.1 billion worldwide. And the Las Vegas production shows no sign of slowing down.
“We’re still bringing in really great numbers, despite the economy,” said Kristi Holden, who plays Christine. “Phantom is a brand which is known internationally, so we have a lot of international people coming to see the show as well as repeat locals who bring their family and friends when they come to town. … Our production is unique unto itself; people can’t see this production anyplace else.”
Pefect for the oft-distracted Sin City audience, Phantom—The Las Vegas Spectacular shaves almost 45 minutes off the original production by condensing some musical scores, dance numbers and dialogue as well as eliminating intermission. However, what is created is an awe-inspiring production that both critics and “phans” alike agree is the most spectacular adaptation of one of the most enduring love stories of all time.
The Venetian 7 p.m. Tues.-Fri., 7 & 9:30 p.m. Mon. & Sat., $72-$160 plus tax and fee. VIP package available. 702.414.7469