The Phantom of the Opera - A Magnificent Haunting of the Academy of Music

Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic musical, The Phantom of the Opera has arrived in Philadelphia, to haunt the Academy of Music from March 19 to April 12, 2014.  This is the 25th Anniversary Tour of the remarkable spectacle, mounted by Cameron Mackintosh in London's West End.  It forever upped the ante for musical theater, as the dazzling special effects, incredible sets and compelling storytelling brought the magic of the movies to the theater.  It ushered in a new era, when audiences began to expect to be blown away by the theatrical experience.

Accordingly, Phantom is regarded as one of the masterpieces of the genre, one of the greatest musicals of all time, and one which changed theater forever.

This was our first time seeing the show, although we had listened to the Phantom CD so many times over the years, that we knew all the plot points, before they took place.  That having been said, nothing can possibly prepare you for actually seeing Phantom live.  The famous chandelier scene, has lost none of its capacity to amaze and stun the audience in the ensuing quarter-century.  And we can only imagine the effect on those patrons, who were unfamiliar with the plot and did not know what was coming.

In addition, short of being in London, we can think of no finer setting for Phantom than the Academy of Music.  The musical is based on a Victorian novel of the same name by Frenchman Gaston Leroux, published in 1843.  And the Academy was constructed around the same time.  As a result, you walk in to the Academy and when you take your seat, you get the impression that the Academy was expressly built to stage Phantom, since you are in an old Victorian opera house.  The sense of illusion is so strong, that the venue serves as a high-end production value, in and of itsself.

The narrative also employs two of our particularly favorite plot devices, flashback and the framework narrative, that is, the play within a play.  And the story remains as thrilling as ever, a tale of legend, mystery, love, betrayal, and suspense.  And punctuated with the eye-popping sets, scenery, and amazing special effects, it is incredibly entertaining.  There are no slow parts, and no slow scenes.

Cooper Grodin is astounding in the title role.  Julia Udine, a Philadelphia-area native, has a triumphant homecoming as Christine Daae, the female lead.  And Ben Jacoby completes the love triangle as Raoul, who matches wits with and duels with Grodin at every turn, with all three turning in electrifying performances.  With the supporting actors and company bringing the show to life, Phantom is incredibly engaging and unforgettable. 

Performances include: Tuesday - Thursday evenings at 7:30 pm; Friday & Saturday evening at 8:00 pm; Sunday evening at 6:30 pm; matinees, Saturdays at 2:00 pm and Sundays at 1:00 pm. Weekday matinees are scheduled for Thursday, March 20 and Thursday, April 10 at 2:00 pm. 

Phantom is playing at the Academy of Music, at Broad and Locust Streets, on the Avenue of the Arts.

Tickets can be purchased by calling 215-731-3333, online at, at the Kimmel Center box office, Broad & Spruce Streets. (open daily 10 am to 6 pm) or at the Academy of Music box office, Broad & Locust Streets. (open during performances only).