Hearing Phantom for the first time– again

Kim Stengel as Carlotta Giudicelli in the musical <em>The Phantom of the Opera. </em>She is the longest running Carlotta worldwide.

Kim Stengel as Carlotta Giudicelli in the musical The Phantom of the Opera. She is the longest running Carlotta worldwide.

By Kelly Nielsen
Culture Writer

Before The Phantom of the Opera first made its way to the Los Angeles theater scene, I was already familiar with the soundtrack featuring lead vocals by Michael Crawford (The Phantom) and Sarah Brightman (Christine Daaé) from the original cast.
I listened to the Phantom CD so often that I pretty much had it memorized. The melody and words are spellbinding.
Hearing and seeing a live Phantom performance now, at the Pantages Theatre in this case, has the same mesmerizing effect on me as it did 20 years ago.
From opening act at the Pantages to final curtain, much of the music that accompanied this haunting love story caused me to be in an almost hypnotic zombie-like state of being.
Phantom is truly a masterpiece of modern musical theater. The colorful costumes and ornate sets blend in perfectly with the grandiosity of the Pantages. I can’t think of a more appropriate stage than the Pantages to house such a production. It was difficult to distinguish between where the Phantom scenery stopped and the Pantages Theatre started.
Any actor talented enough to be cast in one of the three lead roles in Phantom would surely be worthy of a standing ovation– and these actors were. But the ovations started before that, when Carlotta took her bow. Actress Kim Stengel has portrayed the prima donna Carlotta every night for the past 17 years. Her sparkling performance appeared to be as fresh as it might have been on opening night. Bravo, Kim.
It had been so long since I first saw Phantom that it was as if I was seeing it for the first time.
Final performances of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera play through Oct. 31.

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