Anthony J. Piccione
There are plenty of classic shows, books, and films out there that are just ripe for parody. Among this endless list of such examples is The Phantom of the Opera, both the musical we often think of when we hear that title, as well the novel it was based on. Yet despite this, it’s not frequently common to find very many Phantom parodies out there. However, there is one – Phantom of the Paradise – which I had the chance to see staged in a concert format at the Secret Loft earlier this week.
Adapted for the stage Weasel Wardance Productions, the show is based on the original cult classic film released in 1974. Admittedly, I was not particularly familiar with the film version, at the time in which I saw this show. However, if this production – directed and produced by Elann Danzinger – is any indicator, I am curious now to maybe give it a watch, as this proved to an entertaining spectacle of a concert show. This rock musical/horror-comedy has plenty of catchy music that makes one feel nostalgic for the time period when the film came out, as well as some references to other shows that made it all the more enjoyable.
The stand-out aspect of this show was the production aesthetics that set the tone. I find it interesting that I’d be writing that, as my normal experience with productions such as this, which are staged in considerably small venues, are that the technical aspects do not stand out as much as the performances themselves, but that was clearly not the case here. From the 70s glam rock costumes to the highly detailed makeup to the usage of film and projections during flashbacks, the technical aspects of this show greatly enhanced the overall theatrical experience.
That’s not to say that the performances by the actors were bad, though. Indeed, the overall cast of this show does a decent job at performing the music and choreography of the show. In the humorous lead role of Winslow, Barrett Leddy presents himself as an excellent Phantom parody. Meanwhile, Brianne Wylie proved to be particularly impressive vocally in the role of aspiring singer Phoenix, while Jamison Daniels shows good comedic timing as the villainous industry boss Swan. The cast is rounded out by Will Watt as Philbin, Matt Buzonas as Beef, Alex Guhde and Patricia McCarthy as the Juicy Fruits, and Kalia Lay, Nicole Pietrangelo, James Healy, Cait Kelly, and Kevin Rodgers in the ensemble.
Overall, this show does seem to be one of those musicals that’s designed to appeal to a more niche audience, namely one which tends to gravitate toward a specific genre. There’s also a bit of partial nudity, which may be a turn off to certain theatergoers. Personally, however, I thought this was a fun and amusing experience, and while it’s not necessarily for everyone, I’d certainly recommend it to any fans of horror-comedy out there – or those who are interested in the genre – who are especially bound to have a good time at this show.
“Phantom of the Paradise in Concert” – presented by Weasel Wardance Production – runs at the Secret Loft on March 12th, 19th & 26th. For more information, please visit www.phantomoftheparadiseinconcert.eventbrite.com.