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Arts and Entertainment

'The Phantom of the Opera' is more human and tech savvy
Quentin Oliver Lee takes leading role at Blumenthal
Published Thursday, January 18, 2018 5:41 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

“The Phantom of the Opera” is more than a visual masterpiece.

It represents the humanization of a passionate man with poor communication skills. For first-time Phantom Quentin Oliver Lee, bringing the character to life is just the beginning.

“The character is a lot more human,” Lee said. “The Phantom in general has been seen as a magician, or sort of ethereal, but in this production he’s very much a person who happens to not be good at communicating with people and having them understand him.”

Lee plays the iconic Opera Ghost at Belk Theater through Jan. 28. Succeeding Derrick Davis, Lee is the second black performer to play the infamous masked man on tour.

“I feel a lot more comfortable with the general vibe of the whole thing,” Lee said. “There is, of course, still more that can be done as far specific actions and words and how they are connected to thoughts, but I feel good about it. It’s nice to go on stage and feel like you’re putting forth at least 95 percent of what you can. I feel very good about where things are right now.”

As a classically trained opera singer, Lee identifies with certain operatic elements of Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera,” but notes that the show itself is not actually an opera.

“The transition between opera and doing something that has just the elements of it, I really, really enjoy it,” Lee said. “The things that I love about musical theater I get to have in this show, and the things I love about opera, I also get to have in this show. It’s tremendously rewarding.”

Broadway’s longest-running show has been thrilling audiences since 1986. For many, it doesn’t matter how many times they see it. They still hold their breath in anticipation of the infamous chandelier crash—a piece enhanced by modern technology over the last three decades. It weighs approximately one ton, and has 30,000 beads.

“This production of ‘The Phantom’ is a lot different than the spectacular original production, or the ‘brilliant original,’ as they call it,” Lee said. “It’s modernized. The original version came out in 1986—over 30 years ago. It now has all of the updated technology that we’ve had since. It’s tremendous. The use of fireworks and the use of gunfire, and all sorts of technology in general, that’s the big difference.”

Two phrases to take with you to the show, as explained by Lee:

“Opera Ghost”

“If you’ve ever experienced something crazy happening, and not known why, that’s the Opera Ghost,” Lee said. “That’s it. That’s the only way to explain it.”

“Music of the night”

“Music of the night is darkness,” Lee said. “It’s not your visual senses. We as humans see with our eyes, but the music of the night is seeing with everything other than your eyes. It’s really experiencing love and passion, but without seeing.”

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