WALLINGFORD — “The Phantom of the Opera” features one of the most memorable moments in Broadway history, when a chandelier weighing one ton that hangs majestically over the audience crashes dramatically onto the stage.
A nationally touring company began previews of “Phantom” Wednesday at the Toyota Oakdale Theatre. The official opening night is Friday, and the show runs through Sunday.
It's a new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical, featuring reinvented staging and scenic design by the creative team, which includes producer Cameron Mackintosh and director Laurence Connor.
The chandelier, made up of 30,000 beads and 300 gold leaf pieces, is practically a character in the show.
“The Phantom uses it to remind both the patrons in the house proper and the house in the Paris Opera House (depicted onstage) that he’s in control,” said Mitch Hodges, the stage manager who travels with the show. “He uses that to bridge the gap of the fourth wall.”
The newly designed sets reflect the creative team’s vision of exploring the journey of the actors.
“It’s more focused on the acting, the relationships and the interpersonal workings of the show,” Hodges said Thursday.
There’s action on different parts of the stage for the audience to focus on.
“You’re very much with them on those journeys, not waiting for scene changes to happen,” Hodges said, who’s been with the “Phantom” tour for three years.
Actor Derrick Davis plays the title role, the Phantom himself. He is actually reviving his role as the Phantom, which he played in the touring company from 2016-2017.
Davis said Thursday that the Phantom, as a character, is the same at its core.
“The humanity of the character is explored a little bit deeper,” Davis said, but “in the 30 years of the show, technological advancements have made great strides.”
Prepping the chandelier for each show is done by four departments.
The pyrotechnics department creates the chandelier fire, props polishes each bead and gold leaf, lighting tests the stage fog and the scene department performs safety checks.
“The Phantom of the Opera” runs through Sunday, with evening and matinee shows, at the Toyota Oakdale Theatre, 95 S. Turnpike Road. To purchase tickets, visit www.oakdale.com or the Oakdale box office. Tickets start at $45.
For more information on the production and a video sneak peek, visit www.ThePhantomOfTheOpera.com/ustour/.