Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Last Wednesday, Kathy and I took Becca and a friend to the Westchester Broadway Dinner Theater to see Kopit & Yeston’s Phantom. The food there is always mediocre at best—my filet of sole was so hard that I couldn’t even cut through a lot of it—but I’ve never seen this version of Phantom (rather than Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera) performed anywhere else. Kopit & Yeston’s rendition of Leroux’ Phantom story—written just before Webber wrote his—is a touching version, humanizing the phantom, Eric, and providing interesting background connections with the Opera itself and the people who work in it. On top of that, the scores and lyrics are much better than Webber’s. I love, for example, the way in which the William Blake poem is put to music and used to capture some insights into who Eric truly is.

I’d last seen this play performed more than 10 years ago, also at the Westchester Broadway Dinner Theater. The set—a strong point in WBDT productions—was basically the same as it had been then. Sandy Rosenberg played La Carlotta in an entirely different, but equally humorous, way than Meg Bussert did back in the 90s. Richard White’s earlier version of Eric was much stronger than that of Aaron Ramey, who tends to ham up his death by flopping around on the stage. Still, if you ignore the bad food that comes with it, I’d choose this performance over Webber’s stage production or film any day!

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