The Four Phantoms

  • Post author:
  • Reading time:3 mins read

The Four Phantoms

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, January 11, 2020
Reviewed by Joel Benjamin

The Phantom of the Opera (Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe) has been running—on Broadway, at least—for decades and is the longest running musical ever. Over the years it has employed thousands of actors. Four of them took over the stage at Feinstein’s/54 Below as The Four Phantoms: Brent Barrett, John Cudia, Ciarán Sheehan, and Franc D’Ambrosio (who was Al Pacino’s opera-singing son in The Godfather Part III). 

The four made a great first impression, lined up in identical tuxedos with identical red pocket handkerchiefs. These amazing artists, it seems, have totaled more than 7,000 performances in Phantom as well as dozens of other musicals including Les Misérables, Man of La Mancha, Jekyll & Hyde, and La Cage aux Folles. Their ballad-heavy set, under the adept musical direction of Ryan Shirar, featured songs from these and other major musicals.

Sung by all four gentlemen, Sondheim’s “Old Friends” was a fun opener that led directly to a wall of baritone power in “This Is the Moment” (Leslie Bricusse/Frank Wildhorn). Their luscious harmonies continued on “The Impossible Dream” (Joe Darion/Mitch Leigh), “Pretty Women” (Stephen Sondheim) and, most potently, “Bring Him Home” (Claude-Michel Schönberg/Alain Boubil/Herbert Kretzmer). Obviously, they also had to join forces on “The Phantom of the Opera.”

They were joined by Kaley Ann Vorhees who is the youngest actress to have played Christine Daaé in Phantom but who was no match for the talented and experienced foursome. She was given the stage for her solo “Home” (Larry Kershner), in which she showed off a sweet voice and a girlish demeanor.

She sang in turn with all four: “The First Man You Remember” (Webber/Black/Hart) with John Cudia; with Franc D’Ambrosio “You’re Just in Love” (Irving Berlin); an effective “Tonight” (Leonard Bernstein/Sondheim) with Brent Barrett; and a rather sweet “It Only Takes a Moment” (the recently departed Jerry Herman) with Ciarán Sheehan. 

The mood lightened in the penultimate number, “I’m Nothing Without You” (Cy Coleman/David Zippel), and all ballad sadness totally vanished with a rousing finale of “The Best of Times” (Herman).

Joel Benjamin

A native New Yorker, Joel was always fascinated by musical theater. Luckily, he was able to be a part of seven Broadway musicals before the age of 14, quitting to pursue a pre-med degree, which led no where except back to performing in the guise of directing a touring ballet troupe. Always interested in writing, he wrote a short play in high school that was actually performed, leading to a hiatus of nearly 40 years before he returned to writing as a reviewer. Writing for Cabaret Scenes has kept him in touch with world filled with brilliance.