“Come for the scenery, stay for the show” could well have been the motto for the era of theater that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” inaugurated more than twenty years ago, taking the theater world by storm like nothing else before or since. And while its many imitators have not held up particularly well, it is fascinating to behold how fresh of a show this still can be after so many years, at least when all of its original attention to detail are as meticulously in place as they are at its current revival at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. This is not one of those scaled-down incarnations that used to fly by during the height of Phantommania, this lavish remount restores every detail and nuance of the original Hal Prince staging and the late Maria Björnson’s miraculous designs and costumes and has a first-rate cast not only for the principal roles, but even for the smallest bit parts. Yet for all of its Goth and grandeur, “Phantom” is at its heart a “Beauty and the Beast” love story unspooled in unabashedly Romantic fashion via Lloyd Webber’s lush, aria-laden score that remains the star, even if the show’s mundane lyrics and recitative sections have not aged as well. How sad to think that this show, when it is finally retired in its glorious form, will be forever lost to posterity in favor of the really bland and boring film version even though it will be interesting to see what kind of life it will have when regional theaters do finally, at long last, get a hold of it, reimagining its every detail. But for those who want to relive all of the show’s original opulence or who were not around to have experienced this really unique theatrical experience, be sure not to miss what may be the last call for an often imitated, never duplicated, one-of-a-kind show. (Dennis Polkow)
At the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph, (312)902-1400. This production is now closed.