Not only are audiences unlikely to confuse this competent but flatly directed in Budapest production with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage musical, or the classic Lon Chaney’s silent, it also has precious little to do with Gaston Leroux’s novel.
Opening in contemporary New York, this phantom [based on a screenplay by Gerry O’Hara] starts with its heroine being hit on the head by a sandbag and mentally transported back to the mid-19th century for the bulk of the plot.
Set in London, rather than the Paris of Phantom tradition, this rendition seems faithful in broad outline to the original, save for the fact that its tragic antihero is a Jack the Ripper-style maniac who apparently would rather kill the young soprano to whom he’s devoted than kiss her.
Running about encased in makeup that makes him appear a kind of Jack Palance gone to seed, Robert England is his usual broad self. Yet gorehounds are bound to be disappointed. As the object of his decidedly mixed emotions, Jill Schoelen is pretty but vapid.