INDIANAPOLIS — There’s a quirky spookiness, fit for the Halloween season, to the Beef & Boards production of the musical “Phantom,” a version audiences may not have encountered previously.
This version — full of lush costuming, rich vocals and dark shadows — starts as somewhat of a buoyant search by a hideous Phantom for his true love, Christine, whose singing voice inspires the man raised in the catacombs under the Paris Opera House.
By the second act, “Phantom” turns spooky, bringing the Phantom’s emotional pain into a deep psychological exploration. And its Act 2 that is compelling and worth a visit.
But first note that this version is not that of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 Broadway smash “The Phantom of the Opera.”
“Phantom” has music and lyrics by Maury Yeston and a book by Arthur Kopit. The show runs through Nov. 21 at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre, 9301 N. Michigan Road, Indianapolis.
The “Phantom” at Beef & Boards came about in the 1980s when actor Geoffrey Holder obtained the U.S. rights to Gaston LeRoux’s 1910 “The Phantom of the Opera” novel. Holder asked Yeston and Kopit to write the musical just as they were coming off their musical “Nine,” which won the Tony for Best Musical in 1982. Webber was developing his hit in London about the same time but after the novel went into public domain.
All that background aside, casual audience members can find just as much pleasure in either version (though there’s no “The Music of the Night” here).
And while Webber focused win Christine, the Beef & Boards production goes deep into the trauma behind the Phantom’s mask. The backstory takes over the captivating Act 2.
But to get there, we see the opera house coming into new ownership, including a self-absorbed diva, La Carlotta, played with narcissistic wit by Suzanne Stark (her character is the target of every joking jab here).
In comes Christine Daaé, a starry-eyed operatic hopeful with colorfully hued vocals by Courtney Cheatham.
Her singing intrigues opera house-dweller Erik the Phantom; it reminds him of a voice he heard years ago. The Phantom’s dream of finding light in the darkness of his catacombs is illuminated by Logan Moore’s baritone. Moore is multidimensional, amplifying the Phantom’s torture against the secret past of the head of the opera house, played with conviction by Eddie Curry.
Act 1 stumbles only over the fabricated infatuation between Christine and a count, a minor foil. The real affair of the heart here is the Phantom attempting to unmask his exile of solitude by listening to a beautiful voice that revives his life.