My mostly non-theatre-going guest thought it was amazing, and that’s good enough for me.
If you’re looking for a bumped up movie experience a-la a Gothic version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, then,Vox Lumiere’s, Phantom of the Opera now playing at the Los Angeles Theatre Center is for you.
For the season of the witch, you can expect something grandly dark, mysterious and carnival-style, over-the-top. What Vox Lumiere delivers is entertaining downtown LA movie mash-up, escapism mixed with live performance that doesn’t challenge the audience to much.
Most of the magic takes place on screen via the original 1925 American silent black and white horror film, Phantom of the Opera, a truly dramatic, visual treat, not easily found in any cinema today.
An adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra, the film was directed by Rupert Julian and starred Lon Chaney, Sr in the title role of the deformed and obsessed Phantom who haunts the Paris Opera House, causing murder and mayhem in an attempt to make the woman he loves a star. The movie remains most famous for Chaney’s ghastly, self-devised make-up, which was kept a studio secret until the film’s premiere.
Interesting about this particular movie, is that Universal Studios last month, in order to make room to expand its theme park, actually destroyed Stage 28, which is where the original 1925 Phantom of the Opera silent picture was filmed. Stage 28, historically, is one of the oldest stages on the lot at 90 years and the set, then commissioned by producer Carl Laemmle, whose niece Carla, who died on June 12th of this year (2014), was up till then, the oldest surviving actor in the film, has been housed in the space since that time. Hence, it is one of the biggest and best reasons to experience this offering. It is an incredible piece of film history not to be passed up. The rest is periphery.
The live performance has been created to add layers of detail, insight and emotion to the narrative, as well as a 21st century ‘story-within-a-story’ that complements and is a juxtaposition with the 1920s-era film. But although the entire cast is technically, musically and choreographically deft in all forms, the performance below the screen finds itself hard-pressed to compete with what is showing above. It’s a nice touch though and without all of the add-ons, the experience just wouldn’t be as inviting.
Overall, it’s a great show, family friendly and visually extravagant.
Music and lyrics by Kevin Saunders Hayes
Adapted from the novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux
Featuring the 1925 silent film The Phantom of the Opera directed by Rupert Julian and starring Lon Chaney
Vocalists: Julie Brody, Marisa Johnson, Victoria Levy, James Lynch, Chris Marcos, Danielle Skalsky, D. Valentine
Dancers: Siân Dakin, Cameron Evans, Carolyn Pampalone, Jamie Pfaff, Dustin Ripkens, Jason Sensation
Musicians: Christopher Allis on drums; Zac Matthews on bass; Jeff Miley on guitar
Produced by Rick Culbertson, Gregory Franklin and Victoria Levy in association with Franklin Theatrical Investors.
Presented by Stage 28, LLC