5 reasons to see ‘Phantom’ at La Comedia

Matthew Wade (Erik/Phantom) and Lily Autumn Page (Christine) in La Comedia Dinner Theatre's production of "Phantom." PHOTO BY JUSTIN WALTON

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Matthew Wade (Erik/Phantom) and Lily Autumn Page (Christine) in La Comedia Dinner Theatre's production of "Phantom." PHOTO BY JUSTIN WALTON

La Comedia Dinner Theatre’s outstanding, vocally strong production of “Phantom” continues through April 3 in Springboro.

Written by composer Maury Yeston (“Nine,” “Titanic”) and librettist Arthur Kopit (“Nine”), “Phantom” is the 1991 musical adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel “The Phantom of the Opera.” Often overlooked in the shadow of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s global megahit, this version captivates nonetheless as an intimate, dark, heartbreaking and musically gorgeous tale.

Within the catacombs under the Paris Opera House, Erik, a masked musical genius, wreaks havoc. Upset by the opera company’s new owners, Erik finds solace in Christine, a street singer whose rapturous voice renews his hope that all is not lost. He agrees to give her singing lessons upon strict condition he remain anonymous, ultimately falling in love with her yet eventually recognizing his desires will be unrequited.

In addition to Chris Beiser’s directorial fluidity and sophisticated choreography as well as costume coordinator Emercita Erb’s beautiful period costumes (gorgeous gowns heighten the ambiance of ensemble number “The Bistro”), here are five reasons why you should see this impressive, tear-jerking presentation.

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Matthew Wade (Phantom/Erik) and Lily Autumn Page (Christine) in La Comedia Dinner Theatre's production of "Phantom." PHOTO BY JUSTIN WALTON

Credit: JUSTIN WALTON

Matthew Wade (Phantom/Erik) and Lily Autumn Page (Christine) in La Comedia Dinner Theatre's production of "Phantom." PHOTO BY JUSTIN WALTON

Credit: JUSTIN WALTON

caption arrowCaption
Matthew Wade (Phantom/Erik) and Lily Autumn Page (Christine) in La Comedia Dinner Theatre's production of "Phantom." PHOTO BY JUSTIN WALTON

Credit: JUSTIN WALTON

Credit: JUSTIN WALTON

Matthew Wade superbly embodies the mysterious Erik/Phantom

As the gifted yet troubled Erik, Matthew Wade superbly commands the stage with brooding intimidation, comedic charm, masculine grace (he knows how to work a cape), and rich, resonant vocals. He opens his portrayal with an excellently introspective “Where In The World,” and climaxes with a powerful “My Mother Bore Me,” a poignant meditation on life, love and loss executed with lyric-driven finesse.

Lily Autumn Page supplies lovely vocals as Christine

Training in opera for over 10 years, Lily Autumn Page, who has also studied with the Joffrey Ballet School, is a lovely soprano well-suited to the vocal demands of portraying Christine Daaé. She brings joyous ease to cheerful opening number “Melodie de Paris,” feminine flair to the aforementioned “Bistro” (nicely assisted by dashing tenors Justin Perez and Bryson Tyler Wires as the Waiters), and passionately conveys the yearning within “My True Love,” one of Yeston’s finest ballads. She also marvelously partners with Wade in “Home” and “You Are Music.”

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Linda Dew delights as diva Carlotta

Last appearing at La Comedia as Mother Abbess in “The Sound of Music,” Linda Dew is a domineering delight as vengeful diva Carlotta, jealous of Christine’s artistry and a constant thorn in Erik’s side (and ears). Enjoyably paired with John Dorney as Alain Cholet, Carlotta’s doting husband, Dew offers a fine rendition of “This Place Is Mine” that properly sets the tone for Carlotta’s imminent treachery.

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Matthew Wade (Erik/Phantom) and Steven Lakes (Carriere) in La Comedia Dinner Theatre's production of "Phantom." PHOTO BY JUSTIN WALTON

Credit: JUSTIN WALTON

Matthew Wade (Erik/Phantom) and Steven Lakes (Carriere) in La Comedia Dinner Theatre's production of "Phantom." PHOTO BY JUSTIN WALTON

Credit: JUSTIN WALTON

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Matthew Wade (Erik/Phantom) and Steven Lakes (Carriere) in La Comedia Dinner Theatre's production of "Phantom." PHOTO BY JUSTIN WALTON

Credit: JUSTIN WALTON

Credit: JUSTIN WALTON

Steven Lakes fuels drama as portal to the past

Baritone Steven Lakes, a memorable King Triton in La Comedia’s lively production of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” last summer, fuels the drama as opera company manager Gérard Carrière, seeking to protect Erik at all costs. Terrifically narrating “The Story of Erik,” a gripping flashback featuring Charmien Byrd, the aforementioned Perez, and Isaac Muniz and Maxtyn Barton sharing the role of Young Erik, Lakes also shines opposite Wade for an incredibly moving rendition of “You Are My Own,” a singular moment that cuts deep and doesn’t let go.

‘Phantom’ has been a La Comedia hit for decades

La Comedia’s 2022 season has been dubbed “Magnificent 7,” spotlighting the seven best-selling or most-requested shows in its history. I saw La Comedia’s first production of “Phantom” in 1992, and the show successfully returned in 1993, 2000 and 2010. This fifth production is just as emotionally satisfying as the previous iterations and also marks the return of professional, New York-based talent. “We went back to New York and auditioned there for the first time since the pandemic started,” said producer Joe Adkins. “It’s exciting to start that process back up again, using local talent and going to New York to audition talent.” Whether you’ve seen “Phantom” before or thinking about seeing it for the first time, you won’t be disappointed. Trust me. And don’t forget to bring your tissues.

HOW TO GO

What: “Phantom”

Where: La Comedia Dinner Theatre, 765 W. Central Ave., Springboro

When: Through April 3; Thursday and Friday matinee and evening, Saturday evening, and Sunday brunch and evening

Cost: $37-$78

Tickets: 937-746-4554 or lacomedia.com

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The cast of La Comedia Dinner Theatre's production of "Phantom." PHOTO BY JUSTIN WALTON

Credit: JUSTIN WALTON

The cast of La Comedia Dinner Theatre's production of "Phantom." PHOTO BY JUSTIN WALTON

Credit: JUSTIN WALTON

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The cast of La Comedia Dinner Theatre's production of "Phantom." PHOTO BY JUSTIN WALTON

Credit: JUSTIN WALTON

Credit: JUSTIN WALTON

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