By now, the Phantom has ensconced himself deep in the nether regions of the Saroyan Theatre. (Somehow, alas, it seems so much more romantic to make one’s lair in subterranean Paris rather than downtown Fresno.) Such is the impact of the national tour of “The Phantom of the Opera,” the biggest Fresno theatrical event of the year.
Here are some news and notes about the production, which plays through Oct. 16:
Send us your photos. First, the fun stuff. We want to see you dressed up as the Phantom. Come on, there must be some Halloween gems floating around out there, trademark white mask and all. (If you want to remain gendered about this, you can give us your best Christine.) Or are you planning to go masked to the show itself? We’ll put together an online photo gallery that will be posted next week. Plus: There’s a prize! Winner gets a “Phantom of the Opera” poster, courtesy of the folks at Broadway in Fresno. To get things started, we’re using a photo of Bob and Trish Wilson from this year’s “New Wrinkles” production of “Salute to the Silver Screen.” (To enter, send your image to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon Monday, Oct. 10.)
My review. The show opened Wednesday, but the official press night is Friday, Oct. 7. I’ll be posting my review online Saturday – and you can look for it in Sunday’s print edition.
Redesigned production. In my Sunday Spotlight column, I wrote about the changes in this new national tour. There are now two versions of the show. You can still see the classic production with original staging on Broadway. This newer version, designed to slip in and out of cities the size of Fresno more easily, features a darker and grittier feel in the backstage scenes, a revamped scenic design, new projections and other uses of technology, some (slightly) altered characters and more stage time for the Phantom himself.
Rush tickets or lottery? I’ve had some people asking if either option is available. Alas, no.
Familiar face. More than a year ago, I interviewed Storm Lineberger, who was playing Raoul in the show, in advance of the national tour’s stop in San Francisco. He must really like this role – and the producers must really like him – because he’s still in the production. He told me the first time he saw “Phantom” was in San Antonio, a production his grandmother took him to more than a decade ago. He turned to her, pointed at the stage and said: “I’m going to be up there someday.”
Workout. One notable exception to the revised design of the touring production are Maria Björnson’s original extravagant costumes, which are still being used. Some of those elegant dresses weigh as much as 40 pounds.
Farewell. In my Sunday column I wrote about Jacquelynne Fontaine, who plays Carlotta in the national tour, and how she stood on the Saroyan stage in 2006 and claimed the title of Miss California. Besides a case of deja vu, Fresno will be memorable for her for another reason: After almost three years of playing the role on the road, she’s leaving after the last Fresno performance. So are a number of other performers. (Contracts often tend to be up at the same time.) “We really have become a family,” she says.
The Phantom of the Opera
- Through Oct. 16
- Saroyan Theatre, 700 M St.
- www.broadwayinfresno.com, 800-745-3000