A 1920s silent movie classic + 21st-century techno-punk-rock with an operatic twist + some of the most exciting contemporary dance moves you’re likely to see on a Los Angeles theater stage = Vox Lumiere–The Phantom of the Opera, Kevin Saunders Hayes’ latest thrilling mash-up of all of the above.
The film in question is of course the 1925 horror flick the Phantom Of The Opera, the songs and direction are by Vox Lumina creative force Hayes, the choreography is by Natalie Willes, and with design genius Sharell Martin costuming Phantom’s singers and dancers in steampunk splendor, lovers of classic horror and contemporary music and dance will likely turn Vox Lumiere–The Phantom of the Opera’s two December appearances at downtown’s Los Angeles Theatre Center into the SRO nights the past few months’ have been.
As director Rupert Julian’s film adaptation of adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra screens above the stage, dancers Siân Dakin, Cameron Evans, Carolyn Pampalone, Jamie Pfaff, Dustin Ripkens, Jason Sensation, and Shayna Weintraub execute Willes’ high-energy choreography while singers Julie Brody, Marisa Johnson, Victoria Levy, James Lynch, Chris Marcos, Danielle Skalsky, and D. Valentine vocalize Hayes’ catchy songs in dramatic sync with Leroux’s classic tale of a deformed opera lover obsessed with a beautiful young soprano to the point of madness, and in so doing overwhelm audiences with a sound-and-light extravaganza that leaves you wishing for an extra pair of eyes and ears to take in so much happening all at once.
Phantom’s mix of 19th-century Paris as seen through 1925 eyes as revisited via 2014 steampunk-rock follows Vox Lumina’s previous international smashes Metropolis, Peter Pan, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, and Silents You Can Hear, a fifteen-year-old franchise that this reviewer is only now discovering.
Vocals range from the coloratura high notes hit nonstop by Brody and Johnson to Lynch’s rock-star pipes, and if the program divides the wow-worthy cast between “singers” and “dancer,” all-around sensational performances like Marcos’ sexy, sassy Faust blur that line throughout the night.
Musicians Christopher Allis (drums), Zac Matthews (bass), and Jeff Miley (guitar) provide Phantom with its live, rock-concert soundtrack as William Kirkham’s stunning lighting, Kristy Staky’s exciting hair, wig, and makeup design, and above all Martin’s supremely imaginative steampunk confections complete the evening’s spectacle of sound and light.
Video consultant Jason Thompson and sound engineer Myles West merit their own kudos as does Hayes for his musical arrangements.
Angelica Estevez is stage manager. Rick Culbertson is general manager and Levy is company manager. Vox Lumiere–The Phantom of the Opera is presented by Hayes, Levy, Culbertson, and Gregory Franklin in association with Franklin Theatrical Investors, LLC.
Whether you’re a diehard theatergoer or movie buff or dance fanatic or rock concert regular, one thing is certain. Unless you’ve seen one of Vox Lumiere’s previous shows, you’ve never seen anything quite like Vox Lumiere–The Phantom of the Opera.
Reserve now for December’s two-nights-only engagement. If this month’s Friday and Saturday were any indication, Phantom’s upcoming shows are likely to be the hottest ticket in town.
Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles.
November 21, 2014
Photos: Johanna Siegman