There aren’t many musicals that are so popular fans from all over the world will gather for a convention to celebrate them, but “Phantom of the Opera” is one of those shows that can pull it off.
“Phantom of the Opera” fans have converged on Vegas for the first “Phantom Fans Week,” at the Venetian. About 200 people are expected to attend the event, which runs through Sunday. Fans can learn insider secrets, meet the actors, listen to a keynote address from famed director Hal Prince and attend a masquerade ball.
Phantom’s love-triangle plot, haunting music and stunning costumes combine to make it one of those shows that fans go to see over and over again. And again.
“I’m a wicked big fan,” said one attendee from Boston. “I’ve seen it 18 times.”
Several theater students and fans from all over the world including Mexico, England and Australia are attending the fan week.
Judi Dai, a fan from Houston, has seen the show numerous times in other cities and twice in Las Vegas, which she says is her favorite version.
“He (Phantom lead actor Anthony Crivello) gave it a completely different feel,” she said. “It’s much darker. Everyone identifies with the underdog, you kind of root for him. And it’s a very romantic story.”
About 70 – 80 people turned out Thursday for a Q&A session with Crivello, who plays the title role.
Crivello, a native of Wisconsin, grew up with a father who was gifted in music and listened to opera. Crivello preferred the music of James Brown, The Temptations and The Four Tops, but music was definitely always a passion and he eventually found himself playing in high school musicals before going on to study music in college.
Music turned out to be a great career choice. Crivello won a 1993 Tony Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical as the original Valentin in Hal Prince’s “Kiss of the Spiderwoman” at the Broadhurst Theater. He also starred on Broadway in “Evita” and “Les Miserables.”
Crivello says playing the role of the Phantom is one of the most challenging he has taken on.
“The demands of this role are huge. You don’t just perform a role like this, you live it – and I don’t mean that I’m hanging out in the rafters somewhere in the Venetian,” he joked. He said the very physical performance means he has to always get enough sleep and physical conditioning and take care of his voice, which can be very difficult in Vegas’ dry, desert climate.
“This is the most virulent climate and conditions I’ve ever had to deal with,” he said. To combat the dry air, Crivello keeps a humidifier in each bedroom of his home and in his dressing room at the theater.
He also takes care of his voice by doing things like avoiding loud restaurants where he would have to try to speak over the din. So far, he says he hasn’t had too many problems. “I’m blessed with a set of iron vocal chords.”
Some curious fans at the Q&A wanted Crivello to reveal some of the secrets behind the dazzling special effects in the show, such as how the phantom disappears from his chair at the end, but Crivello wasn’t budging.
“If I really start telling you everything, you’re going to lose the magic and so will I.”
Fans can relive the magic at the Venetian 7 p.m. Mon. – Sat., with additional 9:30 p.m. shows Mon.and Sat.