January 16, 2012 | 01:53 PMThe first time I saw Maury Yeston's Phantom was way back in 1997-98 at Boulder's Dinner Theatre. I spent the evening waiting to hear my favorite Andrew Lloyd Weber's familiar songs. What a shock it was to learn that those tunes are from THE Phantom, a whole different animal. This time I had it figured out and was stunned to discover that I like this version even more than the Weber musical.
According to Producer Michael J. Duran, "The story is based on the Gaston Leroux novel, and follows the novel more closely than other versions." BDT newcomer Markus Warren as Erik/Phantom, infuses the title role with power and humanity. Another newcomer, Maggie Sczekan, takes on the role of Christine Daee, the street singer who becomes Erik's protégée. Because of dreadful facial disfigurement, Erik was born and raised in the catacombs under the Paris Opera House. Music is his solace and salvation. He forbids Christine to look at his face.
Warren and Sczekan have glorious voices which mesh seamlessly with the equally pleasing voices of the of the rest of the large cast. The entire troupe was spot on but I must specifically mention the performance of long-time company member, Brian Norber. He reached new heights, and depths as he played Gerard Carriere. By the end of the show, he had a fair share of the audience in, or at least near, tears.
Phantom plays at BDT through Feb. 18. Scurry up the Turnpike for what will be an exceptional evening of good food and fabulous entertainment. Oh, and much to my surprise, I like the music in Yeston's version even more than that in Weber's. For info and reservations, call 303-449-6000 or visitbouldersdinnertheatre.com. Lovely. Absolutely lovely.
Coward at Miners Alley Playhouse
It's always a treat to visit Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden and my most recent visit was no exception. Noel Coward's delightful play Present Laughter had the audience in stitches. Of particular note was the performance of Haley Johnson as the very pregnant assistant Monica Reed. She waddled about in a manner that garnered massive empathetic mirth from every once, or currently, pregnant female in the house.
Chris Bleau was flawless as the self-absorbed actor Garry Essendine as he navigates the treacherous waters of multiple and complicated relationships…most of them involving women with whom he is, well, involved. His male friends join in the highjinks as they try to extricate their pal from his own folly.
The talented Richard Pegg wears so many hats for this production that he needs a wall rack to hang them on. In addition to directing (along with his assistant Missy Moore), Pegg was also charged with: scenic design and construction; properties; sound design, and scenic painting. Good heavens! He's a one-man band and the cool thing is that he does every one of these tasks brilliantly.
The eleven member cast is just terrific across the board. The talent that exists in the Denver metro area is beyond impressive. And, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the marvelous costumes that went from Nordstrom elegance to Goodwill rejects. Also, as usual, Pegg's set design was perfect.
For tix and info, call 303-935-3044 or check out the website at miners alley.com. The play runs through Feb. 22. Do not miss this one…at least not if you're in the mood to giggle a lot.
Bring It On: The Musical
Playing only through Jan. 21 at the Buell Theatre, is Bring It On: The Musical. I'm feeling a little left out because I'd never heard of it and now I discover, from my friend Cathy, that it was a movie or three.
In any event, I loved it. It's a thinly veiled morality play in cheerleading garb. Is the new girl on the squad really an evil manipulator or was it just pure chance that the captain of the cheerleaders was redistricted to another high school? Will the pudgy girl who never gets to be more than the school mascot finally find redemption at the new school to which she also has been relegated? And, of course, which girl will end up with which boy?
Along with all the above drama, we are treated to some of the best cheerleading routines I've ever seen, complete with girls being tossed some 25 feet into the air and, even more impressive, landing without incident. The athleticism of this cast is outstanding. They even manage to perform without a hitch even at this altitude. A little back-stage oxygen can't help all that much.
Check it out at 303-893-4100 or on the website at denvercenter.org. This is a winner as every little (or not so little) girl in the audience will attest.
Until next time, I'll see you around town.