Published on February 5th, 2009 | by Greg0
Fireworks and Chandeliers — The Vegas "Phantom" Experience
Las Vegas was a place I hated before I even visited. In general it’s a place that people like me hate. Sure it’s rather visually stimulating, but it always seemed to lack a discernment between flash and substance, between imported and home-grown culture. The people that vacation in Vegas make jokes like, “So, you’re from France? You must feel right at home in the Paris casino then.” (Actual witnessed attempt at a joke.) And the idea of seeing Phantom of the Opera in Vegas instead of the artistically edgier New York or the more authentic London (composer Andrew Lloyd Webber is English) seemed somewhat counterintuitive.
Except for one thing: Vegas is awesome. Put a place in the middle of desert and pump all your money into flash and you get ridiculous water fountains, free pirate shows, and Venetian canals. Why? Because you can, apparently.
Vegas’ Phantom of the Opera is just like Vegas itself. It’s not like watching your typical refined musical beautifully performed, it’s like being on the set of a movie and feeling the heat of every explosion, the splash of the lapping water, and worrying about the stuntmen making it through all right. With Phantom of the Opera, Vegas did what it does best — it poured lots of money into it until “over the top” didn’t seem like an adequate adjective anymore.
And “over the top” does fall short. From the massive chandelier that falls down into the audience, to the underground lake the Phantom steers his boat through, to the superbly-decorated auditorium — redesigned and outfitted specifically for this show — the set design blows away pretty much anything we’ve seen on a stage before.
The lead actors were obviously of a high caliber with strong vocals and solid performances. The costumes had flair. The story was moving, if cut a bit short at 95 minutes. However, had the Venetian’s version of Phantom of the Opera possessed none of those qualities, it would still rank up there as one of the most incredible theater experiences… and quintessentially Vegas. Tickets start at $68, and the show runs nightly (except for Sundays).