The Providence Performing Arts Center once again has the honor of launching a major North American tour. This time it is the spectacular new production of Cameron Mackintosh’s “The Phantom of the Opera,” opening at PPAC November 27 and running through December 7.
Eighteen trucks unloaded the sets, costumes, props and one huge chandelier last week, after a long trip from London, as 52 cast and orchestra members arrived to rehearse the “re-imagined” musical, joined by 24 stage hands. An additional 50 local stagehands joined them. The lobby, stage and backstage were covered with clothes racks, statues, backdrops, electrical equipment, scenery and stage floor, as computer technicians and workmen rushed around putting all the pieces together.
First rehearsal was scheduled for last Thursday, and director Laurence Connor and choreographer Scott Ambler were talking to the press in their crisp English accents.
“What’s different about the chandelier?” someone asked.
“We’re not going to tell you,” was the reply.
Connor was ready and eager to talk about the new production, which he said was greatly enhanced by new technology since the show first opened 25 years ago.
“The new production opened in March 2012 in Plymouth, England and has been an enormous box office and critical hit throughout the U.K.,” Connor said. “Now the only place you can see it is in North America, and the first place is right here in Rhode Island.”
Mark Campbell, who plays the Phantom, said that he has a darker, edgier take on his character.
“I’m amazed at how smart the lyrics are,” he said.
Julia Udine, who plays Christine, says that she has also rediscovered her character. “I see her as not only more vulnerable, but also more spunky.”
The production takes three to four long days to set up, and this is the first time in the United States, which means some challenges in converting the electrical system.
Ticket prices start at $48 and are available by calling 421-ARTS. For more information go to www.thephantomoftheopera.com.