“The Phantom of the Opera” Changes Its Ways



Above: The touring cast of "The Phantom of the Opera." Stock Photo.
Above: The touring cast of “The Phantom of the Opera.” Stock Photo.

There is nothing more magical than seeing “The Phantom of the Opera” on the stage for the very first time. Between the extravagant costumes, off-the-chart vocals and that dazzling chandelier, there is so much to keep one entertained for the two and half hour run time.

While the latest production still has all of those factors, there are definitely some changes.

SPOILER ALERT: There are some spoilers below, but this show has been around for over 25 years.

The set has been updated to circle around the stage to present different areas of the theater in which the events of the show take place. The circular set can also split in half and slide to either side of backstage when the whole stage is needed.

The new setting allows for different staging than previously seen.

For instance, when the Phantom and Christine are going down the depths of the theater to his lair during the title song, doubles of the actors have always been cast because there is not enough time for the actual Phantom and Christine to make it down, go backstage and get on the boat that then comes on set from the back of center stage. Now, the Phantom and Christine can walk down the spiral staircase as it turns, symbolizing the depth of the theater, and get in the boat which comes out from stage right.

This staging also affects stagehand Joseph Buquet’s death. The splitting of the circular set allows the ballet scene to be split in half, so half of the stage is the ballet and the other half is the rafters where Buquet is working. Because Buquet is standing directly on stage as the Phantom goes to hang him, the actor is lifted up on the lasso rather than being dropped from above.

Another big change with the set is that there is no grand staircase during the Act II opener, “Masquerade.” Unfortunately, the number suffers from the lack of stairs, which made the choreography so grand. The entrance of the Phantom at the end of the number is weak because he does not have the intimidating appearance above them that he is supposed to have.

SPOILER ALERT: If you really don’t want to know the end of the show, skip the next two paragraphs.

Perhaps the biggest change in the show is the final scene in the Phantom’s lair. When Raoul and Christine are leaving the lair, Christine comes back to give the Phantom a ring back. Instead of handing it to the Phantom for a final emotional moment between the two, Christine leaves it on his desk and runs away before he could turn around and see her.

Then, instead of sitting on the chair and putting a cloak over himself, Meg Giry runs in and sees the Phantom. Previously, Meg never actually saw the Phantom, but this time around, Meg and some of the people tracking down the Phantom actually see him. He then puts his cloak over his head and Meg runs to tear it off of him, but he has mysteriously disappeared. While the effect was still amazing, it was a little awkward having other characters onstage at the same time.

Esteemed producer Cameron Mackintosh is presenting this tour as “The New Production,” which runs through August of 2015. Seeing as the production’s first tour started in the US in 1991, it is time for an update.

Or is it?

“The Phantom of the Opera” is the longest-running show on Broadway and one of the most renowned musicals in the world. People have loved it just the way it was for years.

While some of the new changes work, some of them do not. The ones that do not stand out and leave more of an impact than the ones that do work.

As a true fan of the show, I do not believe that something that is working so well should be changed.

Kevin Studer

Kevin Studer is an alumnus that studied Communication and Media. Studer has also been published on the Huffington Post, Elite Daily and Boca Magazine. When not in the presence of awesome journalism opportunities, he has a passion for all things Disney and Broadway.

4 thoughts on ““The Phantom of the Opera” Changes Its Ways

  • July 9, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    It is not like the old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. I think it was a mistake to change anything. Not as good. The chandelier scene was more like an electric light bulb burning out. The masquerade was not “right”. It just wasn’t nearly as good. I have seen Phantom in London, Las Vegas, Eugene, Oregon and Spokane WA. The changes were not necessary and if this one had been the first Phantom I saw, I would not go again. Sad.

  • February 5, 2018 at 3:56 pm

    Can they please just tour the broadway version I’ve seen it 5 times on broadway and now live in Florida so I would love to see it on tour but not this version

  • May 6, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    I convinced our band director to go see the show with me a few years ago. She’d never seen it and I told her she would have chills through the entire show. I didn’t realize it was a new staging . . . as I sat there, aghast, not recognizing the show I had seen 3 times before, she turned to me and asked when the ‘chills’ would start! This may seem a bit overboard, but I lost sleep! The wonderful, maniacle phantom was no where near as wildy dangerous, yet pitiful, as he had been and that was a big let down. I’m not even going to mention the chandalier. I agree with Betty. The show was great before they ‘fixed’ it!

  • November 4, 2018 at 10:30 pm

    I’ve seen this show 6 or 7 times in multiple cities, but it has been several years. I just saw this show last week and was unaware there had been any changes to the set. Even some of the dialogue was slightly different. I was so disappointed by the changes. It wasn’t as magical, as I had to explain to the friends who went with me. I felt there was less character development. I didn’t care for the changes to the mirror scene in the dressing room, the grand staircase in the Masquerade, and the final scene. And, I seem to recall Christine unmasking the Phantom when she awakened from her sleep, but in this production, he removed his own mask. I miss the old “Phantom”. I won’t anticipate seeing it again as I was this time. Disappointing…..


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