Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
As director Paata Tsikurishvili has reimagined Gaston Leroux's novel, the Phantom (Irina Tsikurishvili, also the choreographer) was once an ambitious ballerina (Lottie Guidi) who was trapped in the opera house during a fire. With severe burns to her face, she went into hiding in the cellars of the building, emerging years later to strive for glory vicariously through Christine. (Company composer Konstantine Lortkipanidze created the propulsive, heavily rhythmic score, with a few interpolations from the classical repertoire. This version has nothing to do with Andrew Lloyd Webber.)
Irina Tsikurishvili is magnetic whenever she appears, demonstrating complete control, both physical and emotional, of her character; her interplay with Guidi is fascinatingly detailed. Najafzada ably shows Christine's progression from uncertainty to confidence, then horror.
To accommodate the theatrical setting, this production blends Synetic's dynamic style of storytelling through gesture and flowing movement with elements of classical ballet. Daniel Pinha's scenic design incorporates several three-dimensional structures that take on different aspects as they move around the stage, as well as flat panels that display Patrick W. Lord's sometimes dizzying projections and Brian S. Allard's atmospheric, colorful lighting design.
Erik Teague's costumes help to tell the story through their primary focus on black, white and red, creating some striking and surrealistic visuals: a mysterious army of specters in the Phantom's lair who, when needed, also serve as pieces of furniture; a shimmering, undulating sheet representing an underground lake; a vision of Christine as a statue, her flowing drapery covering the staircase on which she stands.
Phantom of the Opera runs through February 29, 2020, at Synetic Theater, 1800 S. Bell St., Arlington VA. For tickets and information, please call 866-811-4111 or visit www.synetictheater.org.
Adapted by Nate Weinberger from the novel by Gaston Leroux