Sheltered by a striking waterfront skyline, the Detroit Opera House lies amid some of the city’s most significant sports and music venues. From the mammoth Ford Field to the jewel of the Motor City’s Fox Theatre, the 2,700 soft-seater room has undergone many renovations and modifications from its initial appearance in 1922. Since the most extensive refurbishment in 1996, it has been an annual host to five opera and five dance productions from touring troupes, as well as a treasured stopover for a variety of musical and comedy artists.
However, this season the Detroit Opera House welcomes to its glorious stage for the first time in its history The Phantom of the Opera . Noted as the most successful entertainment enterprise of the twentieth century, the production runs from September 8th through to the 27th. With global sales exceeding $5 billion, this seven-time Tony Award-winning production (including best musical) has been witnessed by 80 million people in 119 cities throughout 24 countries.
Having been present at the September 18th performance it is no question why the show has been hailed as the longest running musical in Broadway history. Tim Martin Gleason (The Phantom of the Opera) whose stretch as Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny is record-breaking, having played the role more than 2,600 times with 3 separate American companies. He returns to the national tour, this time as the masked man himself. Gleason’s performance at the Opera House was brilliant. Bringing his character to life, he lead the audience through feelings of utter sympathy for the masked figure to scenes of shear horror, as his plight to win over the lovely Christine was simply not to be. His reign as the Phantom is sure to surpass his previously held tenure.
Elizabeth Welch was equally as stunning in her role as Christine Daae’. Her agonizing decision to accept the role came with a price. Being away from her family and watching her 4-year old daughter opening Christmas gifts via Skype video feed from home was a tough pill to swallow. In an interview earlier this year Welch passionately stated, “This is the biggest dream I’ve ever dreamed.” Pegged as one of the most difficult roles to play in theatre, her voice seemed perfectly suited for the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic as if it were written solely for her. Elizabeth’s performance in itself is breath-taking as she will no doubt embrace the character for years to come.
With Sean MacLaughlin, as the fiery Raoul, an incredible supporting cast and a brilliant ensemble, the blue-color city had little reservation about slipping into its finest evening wear, as not an empty seat could be found that evening. The experience of theatre-going should not be solely viewed as an evening out on the town, but as an escape and an opportunity to see true commitment and talent as only theatre can offer. Let us not forget the dedicated orchestra members and backstage crew who make a show like this possible each evening.
With the production’s final curtain call September 27th, The Phantom of the Opera continues it journey in New York City throughout the month of October at the Majestic Theatre. Despite where the performance may find you, let “The Music of the Night” bring you back to the beauty of theatre.
Published on Dec 31, 1969