Worst theater experience of the year: Vox Lumiere’s Phantom at the Ordway

Vox Lumiere’s adaptation of Phantom of the Opera was spectacularly, embarrassingly bad. If I could redact it from the Theoroi schedule, I would. The only positive thing about that evening’s experience was that it forced the Theoroi participants to grapple with the challenge of speaking publicly, online about a really bad theater experience. This did give rise to a moment of bonding for the group, but I worry that it was downed out by the horror of sitting through 2 hours of amplified schlock bereft of any musical or artistic merit.

There were numerous moments throughout the night where I realized my mouth was hanging open, involuntarily, in what must have been an expression of complete disbelief. Great art can transport you out of your body and into another aesthetic plane. Vox Lumiere triggered a defensive out of body experience, leaving my eyes and ears to experience the assault while my mind hid as far away as it possibly could.

I’m deeply appreciative of the fact that all of the Theoroi stayed through both acts.  For many of them I think it took a feat of will to return to their seats after intermission.  At the end of the show, the audience responded with a shellshocked 0%/0% ovation — nobody stood up when the applause began and nobody was standing when the applause finished.

When we gathered in the lobby to debrief about the show, everyone made an earnest effort to find constructive and meaningful ways to describe the train wreck they had just witnessed.  More than a few of them were reduced to observing that “Well, the Ordway does have to fill the auditorium with something every night”. Is that what motivates the Ordway’s programming team?  Are they merely concerned with filling space, regardless of the artistic or entertainment quality of the show?  What a disappointment.