A reimagined Phantom of the Opera opened August 26 at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Center for Performing Arts. Cameron Mackintosh’s show is bigger and bolder than any since its debut in London 30 years ago. Everything physical (except for original award-winning costumes by Maria Björnson) has been lavishly redesigned, including the one-ton chandelier that sports 6,000 beads and 300 sheets of gold leaf. Prepare to be wowed by the massive opulent set by Paul Brown and dramatic lighting effects by Paule Constablethat make it a visual masterpiece.

The staircase in the “Masquerade” number has been replaced by a hall of mirrors, inspired by the real Paris Opera House.

The Story

In 1881, a facially scarred composer with magical powers who lives in the bowels of the Paris Opera House is infatuated with ingénue Christine Daae. Somehow (suspend your disbelief here), he mysteriously becomes her “Angel of Music.” When they finally meet, he carries her off to his underground lair. Christine vacillates between her muse and her new love for childhood friend and arts patron Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny.

In this love triangle, Raoul proves to be no match for the Phantom who creates havoc in the opera house, killing people along the way. Christine shows her strength in the end when, through a single act of kindness, she saves herself and her lover. Phantom escapes by vanishing in a poof, leaving only his mask behind.

Several sub-plots contribute to the complexity, including a few too many opera sequences within the play that add comic relief to the dark story.

Then there’s the organ’s and the well-known haunting music that will sing in your brain for weeks.

The principals

Chris Mann (who found fame on “The Voice”) thrills with a glorious and passionate voice, ranging from powerful in the title song to soulful in “Music of the Night.” His Phantom is younger (34) than most, making him a more believable temptation for young Christine.

Kaitlyn Davis is a lovely Christine.

Her strong soprano shines in the powerful duet with Mann in the title song that will have you mesmerized, and she sings lovingly with Linebarger in” All I Ask of You.”

Storm Lineberger plays the Vicomte with just the right amount of upperclass gentility, and his promise to Christine “to guard you and guide you” is tender and emotional.

The ensemble

Jaquelynne Fontaine adds humor as the diva Carlotta; David Benoit and Jay Lusteck are superb as the opera house owners Mssrs. Firman and André. Anne Kanengeiser is properly stern as Madame Giry, the ballet mistress who alone knows the history of the Phantom.

The rest of the 52-person cast and orchestra make an unforgettable show. Director is Laurence Connor; choreography, Scott Ambler; projection, Nina Dunn; sound, Mick Potter, musical supervisor, John Rigby.

History of Phantom and The Buell

When the Buell Theatre was being built in 1990, it was offered the first touring production of Phantom for its inaugural show. Major upgrades and a stepped up schedule allowed the theatre to stage “the most successful theatrical event in Denver history,” according to the Denver Post.

Now it has returned for the seventh time to celebrate The Buell’s 25th anniversary.

How to buy tickets

Phantom plays through September 11.Tickets start at $20; call or visit the Denver Center website.

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