By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
There are so many bobbles in GCT's Phantom, it could easily be tipped over and played for broad comedy. Wigs fly off heads and are punted offstage by stumbling dancers. The Phantom twirls his cape and knocks gewgaws off tabletops. The choreography by Morgana Shaw is cartoon-funny, combining wavy arms with alarming amounts of squatting, which can't be easy to do in costumes fashioned with fabric-pooing bustles.
Actors knock on invisible doors and trip up very visible stairs. In one number, the poor dancers are forced to wave and squat up steps past a "dead" chorus boy lying in their path. They pay him no mind.
As the hour grows late, the goings-on get sillier. Phantom Erik takes Christine on a "picnic" in the Paris catacombs, where a small band of sewer snoids lays out the snacks by the glow of what might be methane gas. When Christine naps on the fur-covered chaise, Erik sings his big love song to her at the top of his lungs (and noticeably off-pitch by Mr. McEnroe). At the performance reviewed, one patron could be heard whispering, "Wow, she's a sound sleeper."
Hall and McEnroe have zip chemistry. Hall rolls her eyes and bats her eyelashes like one of the Gish sisters in Orphans of the Storm. If she weren't so over-amplified, her warbly high soprano might not sound so unnaturally curdled and shrill.
The only members of the cast who seem to realize they're in a honker and play it for big laughs are Emily H. Hunt, as the evil opera hag Carlotta, and Dennis Gullion as her husband, Cholet. She's doing a great Joanne Worley impression, and he's doing an outrageous Paul Lynde, lending their scenes an antic '60s sitcom flair. They could easily get away with chewing more scenery. On this set, they'd be doing it a favor.
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