“The Phantom of the Opera” is already giving Reynolds Hall a real workout.
The show running through and its lead character are taking over the Smith Center’s, 2,050-seat theater with a depth and expansion rarely experienced in the big room. While it’s difficult (and probably unfair) to compare Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lavishly resourced touring musical to the more thrifty shows that have played Reynolds Hall, what is inarguable is its scope: A fleet of 20 trucks, stuffed with sets, costumes and equipment, have loaded into the theater. This “Phantom,” running through June 11, is at once Broadway-style show and a rock tour.
Comparatively, 15 rigs were used for “Wicked,” and four for the upcoming tour of Something Rotten.” The point is not to say more trucks equals greater entertainment value, but rather … wow, that’s a lot of equipment.
The expenditure pays off, even in a city where Cirque du Solei blows away audiences with such elements as the rotating stage in the $165 million “Ka” production at MGM Grand. It’s true, too, when recalling “Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular” in its 6½-year run at the Venetian, which cut the intermission and transitional music and seemed locked in overdrive.
The touring “Phantom” might be a longer night of theater, at 2½ hours, but is fulfilling in its unbending generosity. The frequent smoke and pyro blasts, effects often dwarfed in shows at Reynolds Hall, easily fill the stage in this show. The sets are consistently towering and us the stage’s great depth, but are also meticulously detailed, such as the stage of the Paris Opera House, and the gold-and-burgundy Victorian effects in the Manager’s Office, where the production “Notes” are painfully recited.
The Phantom on tour is Derrick Davis, an imposing man whose voice reaches the rafters but who also commands attention in the whispering segments of “Music of the Night.” Katie Travis effectively inhabits the role as Christine, growing from demure chanteuse to a performer reaching full flourish under the Phantom’s intense tutelage. Jordan Craig as the sly bachelor Raoul reminds why allowing his love interest to study with this unsettling masked composer (and illusionist) is a pretty bad idea.
And that chandelier. Can’t forget that. It fell at a greater velocity — and from a shorter distance — during the accelerated version of the show at Venetian. Even those who saw the show multiple times ducked on the giant fixture’s rapid descent. At Smith Center, is explosive drop is longer, more anticipated, but effective nonetheless.
The chandelier drop is still a big moment from a big show we’ve seen before, but not quite like this. A tall order in its return to Vegas, “Phantom” rises to the occasion. It is what he does.