Monday, December 22, 2014

Lost in "The Music of the Night"

I think any theater lover has a bucket list, the "must see" shows and Phantom of the Opera has always ranked high on my list.  I was extremely blessed to have the opportunity to see this amazing show on Friday, courtesy of my friends at the Straz Center and the Tampa Bay Bloggers!  This proved to be a wonderful date night for me and the Hubs, who is not a theater lover like myself but who always says he wants to see it again.

I'm slightly embarrassed to actually say this out loud but I didn't really know the plot prior to seeing the show.  I knew it was about this man, the Phantom, who was in love with a performer but that was it.  I was unaware how much suspense and danger filled the theater and never realized I'd be on the edge of my seat the entire performance (literally on the edge of my seat...I never sat back against the seat for one second).
Waiting for the show to start
When we walked in, I was surprised to see the curtain was lifted and you could see the stage/scenery right away, as well as the covered chandelier (which was absolutely stunning!!!  None of my pictures do it justice).  We were instantly able to appreciate the hard work of the creative team.   From the extravagant costumes to the use of shadow figures to tell the story of the Phantom's past,the Creative Team nailed it! I was floored by the effects used to create the boat scene.  Every aspect of the lighting design, set design, and costume design made it that much easier for the audience to find themselves feeling like they're in the Paris Opera House with the rest of the cast.  It was truly amazing! Kudos to the Creative Team for transporting me from my seat and into the story!!!!
If the atmosphere wasn't enough, the cast of US Tour of Phantom of the Opera brought it home for me! The caliber of their voices were like nothing I've ever heard before. The beauty that Katie Travis brings to Christine Daae is unbelievable. Storm Lineberger brings such a depth and soul to Raoul in his first experience touring with a show.  The Phantom is brought to life by the amazing Chris Mann. I loved him as a finalist on The Voice and I was so excited when I looked at the cast and saw his name in the lead role! He brought such a darkness to the Phantom that I wasn't prepared for.  I just can't say enough about the entire company!!! They brought to life the songs I've grown up loving.
Katie Travis and Chris Mann
Courtesy of the Straz Center
Courtesy of the Straz Center
These performers are also so grateful. I might have been obsessing over the show on social media (before, at intermission, at the end, and pretty much every minute since) and I instantly saw how much these performers love what they do and how much they love their Phans.  So many of them have liked an Instagram picture or favorited/retweeted a tweet that I've posted.  You don't see that too often and it really is a nice feeling to know that what you're saying about a performance is being seen and appreciated by the cast.
Unfortunately I didn't make it to the stage door :(
From the moment the orchestra started warming up and the organ played those famous notes to the final curtain call, I found myself in love. In love with the story. In love with the characters. In love with the music. In love with it all.  I was left speechless and wanting to experience it all over again. This truly was the most amazing theater experience I've ever had and I'm so grateful to the cast and to the Straz Center for that.

Phantom of the Opera will be at the Straz Center through January 4th.  Believe me when I say that you do not want to miss this show.  It is life changing.  For tickets,visit the Straz Center's website.

For more information about the North American Tour of The Phantom of the Opera, visit their website, follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook, and on Instagram.

Disclaimer: I was provided tickets to this amazing show, thanks to the Tampa Bay Bloggers and the Straz Center, in exchange for this post.  All opinions are 100% mine (and I could gush all day about this show)