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Phantom Theater Encore Reviews


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This will be one of the longest posts I have put on the site.  What follows is my review of the show.  Please bear with me.... spoilers ahead.

I know a bit about theatre.  Took Tap and Jazz for 15 years, did Blue Jacket the outdoor drama for 2 and started the Huber Heights Community Theatre 2 years after graduating from high school.  My favorite show of all time at KI is and always will be Celebration (82-82).  You can find the Carowinds iteration on youtube (83-84), I wish I could find a good copy of it from KI as the show was simply fantastic.  It was a broadway style short production that made true use of the Theatre with lights, sets, fog, spotlights, etc. and one of my favorite parts was "the line" a tap number in the middle of the production.  The production was so popular that they released a vinyl LP of the show of which I have one, signed by the cast (shout out to Sarah, Julie, Jane and Harry :)).  After that they did Gotta Dance (83-84) and Fascinating Rhythm both of which had Alton Fitzgerald White (one of this years KI HOF inductees) in a lead role.  It was nice to meet him on April 29th.

All three of these shows were top-notch productions.  The all had a very broadway feel to them and showed of some of the best performers ever to have graced any stage at the park.  They all had immense followings and lines would form 45 minutes before performances.  There were a lot of groupies who would see the show several times in a day.  Those years were really something special to those who got to experience them when Taft controlled the productions. (Some of the performers would perform in the off-season on cruise ships).  Where as the shows after and before these 3 were good I felt they never really had that "big show" feel to them and I have been waiting to see a show that could match the excitement, excellence, variety, execution and polish of those 3 legends of the past.

My wait is now over. 

My suggestion to not miss this show.  It has something for all ages and is well worth your time.

(spoilers to follow)

Phantom Theatre Encore is a return to those times of the past and is simply magnificent.  I left with happy tears in my eyes seeing a well-thought out, well-executed production.  The story is well thought out and very clever.  Those who remember the phantom theatre are in for a real treat seeing our favorite characters come to life in a way I never thought I would see.  The costumes and make up are very well done.  

The Usher is performed very well and the interaction with the audience before the show will make you want to be there as soon as the doors open 15 minutes before the performance.  All of the performers really put an effort into their characters and it shows.  Seeing the phantom come to life is just incredible.  Whomever wrote this production studied the ride and took great care to put in a lot of nods to those of us fortunate enough to ride it (both visually and in the dialogue).  The two acrobats re-creating the handyman hanging upside down on the rope from the ride was a great touch.  There are props from the ride in the show that brought back so many memories and add to making me want to re-watch the show over and over to catch new visual and verbal nods to the ride.

The music and songs are some of the best I've heard and are well performed.  With the return of vinyl in recent years I would love to see them do a vinyl release of the show.  The music and performances are worthy of it and think it would be well received and a fantastic souvenir (of course, they should include a digital download considering how scarce record players are nowadays).

My favorite part without a doubt is the tap number.  Yes, after over 30 years tap has returned!  When I saw them come out I teared up knowing I was in for a treat and I was not disappointed.  The black light effect was simply fantastic surprise and you audibly heard a response in the audience when it happened.  (The one thing I wonder is if they could mic the floor.  Just turn them on for this section to bring out the tap sounds a bit clearer.)  Live tap dancing is a really unique thing to see and hear especially in this day and age.  Kudos to bringing this art back from past and to the performers who executed it so well!

I do agree with what other have said and would love to hear a "you'll be baaaaccckkkk" at the black out after the main show before the encore.  Maybe they can add that, it would be a great thowback.

Once the show was over I joined most of the audience in a standing ovation.   Last show of the first full day of shows, standing ovation!  The polish that was already on the production shows the hours of rehearsals and love and commitment the performers have put in to the show.  I personally gave a standing ovation to them but also to the production team of the show and to KI for allowing this show during the most magical season I have ever had at KI  (and it has only begun)!

 

 

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8 hours ago, MaestroJr said:

Anybody experience the show today? I noticed they had one of the old ride cars out front 

I did.  Actually the have one on each side of the theatre.  You can read my review above.

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Countless hours went into making the show happen. Kings Island continues to step up their game, and as an enthusiast and now employee, the passion and effort put forth in this show makes me so happy. Although I didn't do too much with Phantom, it was awesome to see it come together. I absolutely loved the show and hope to see it again.

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It looks beautiful, can’t wait to see it in person. I am absolutely baffled why this wonderful production is only lasting until August 21? It seems tailor-made for Haunt. And it would be great to do a Christmas version for Winterfest this year…

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2 hours ago, KIghostguy said:

It looks beautiful, can’t wait to see it in person. I am absolutely baffled why this wonderful production is only lasting until August 21? It seems tailor-made for Haunt. And it would be great to do a Christmas version for Winterfest this year…

There’s a thing called school. Theater work is very labor intensive.

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I saw the show yesterday.  I really, really enjoyed it!  I actually got "misty" mid-way through the show because I realized how virtually every person in the audience was excited and rooting for the show. That's, no doubt, because of the special place that the original ride has in so many people's hearts.

Its designed to be campy, corny, silly fun - and I hope everyone unfamiliar with the ride "gets" that.

There's a lot of in-jokes and references that may go over the heads of those unfamiliar with the history.  For instance, there's a very obscure, tongue in cheek reference to Paramount by the Maestro when he addresses all us people "out there in the dahhhhhhhk." (Sunset Boulevard)  The jokes move pretty quick, so it will require re-watching to catch all of them.

I don't think its on the level of the Taft/Keco era productions like Celebration, New York New York etc.  However, its an immense step up from the lack-luster entertainment that's been housed at the Kings Island Theatre since CF took ownership. 

There's one particularly delightful number who's inspiration was "lifted" from a classic Jim Henson Kermit/Muppet Show sketch.  It was extremely well done/well suited for this production.  It is the highlight of the show, but then, I've always been a sucker for a good tap number!

Ironically, I found the chorus members/dancers often outshined the namkesake leads at times (not including Maestro, who was spot-on.)  Although the actors portraying Houdelini, Hilda and Garbanzo definitely resembled and embodied the characters, I found their vocal talents challenged at times.  (Particularly Houdelini seemed to be struggling vocally.... but that may have been because I saw the last show of the day.) Its important to point out that the show's instrumentals are pre-recorded, and many of the chorus vocals seemed canned as well.  At times, the 5 leads, who are mic'd, were struggling to sing over the music - which was turned up waaaay too loud at points.  I'm sure given time, this will improve.

There's an awkward "slap-stick" segment at the top of the show that needs some work.  Its obviously done to set-up a really great acrobatic act that comes later in the show, but it has a weird silence to it - so the audience wasn't sure how to respond. 

When the performance concluded, about 1/4 of the audience responded with a standing ovation.  It was great to see that response.  But as I said earlier, you could feel the guests "rooting" for the show the entire time.  That speaks volumes.

Most importantly, the line to get into the theater before the show snaked all the way to International Street.  I had deja-vu, because that's EXACTLY what it was like back in the hey-day of KI entertainment.  In the day, you had to make sure to show up at the theater early because the crowd to get in would be so big.  I hope the crowds continue to show up for this one - allowing the park to increase the quality/budget of it's live entertainment offerings.

Finally, I need to mention the lobby full of artifacts and information about the original ride.  So smartly done (it sets up the premise of the show for those that, perhaps, are not familiar with the ride.)  Those displays stand on their own as one of the most heart-warming throwbacks Kings Island has done for the 50th.  Seeing those few original props, signage and renderings was akin to seeing cherished old friends.

Kudos to the cast, the Director, crew and more for giving us this gem.

Shaggy

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I was kind of leery about this. It seemed like it might be pandering, and bringing in some easy iconography to get people feeling nostalgic while papering over the fact that it was a slap-dash, silly show. 

But I've seen the photos and the video on YouTube, and it all seems really impressive, and done with a lot of love. I wouldn't be surprised if this was a passion project for someone who probably grew up at the park riding PT and was finally given an opportunity to indulge all that nostalgia. We'll be going to the park the last week it's there, and I'm really excited to see this. 

As a kid, the live entertainment was one of my favorite things about KI. I grew up in the days where they did all the Hanna Barbara shows (I remember "Scooby Doo and the Raiders of the Lost Bark" in International Showcase pretty vividly), and we wouldn't miss any of it. Even the Paramount era had some good shows -- the ice skating show in Festhaus -- the weird "Cheers" show and "Game On" after that. There was even a pretty good laser show in the first Paramount year. Whether it's just growing up or a true decline in quality, I haven't stopped to watch a full show in years, aside from the BMX show they did in Kings Island Theater a few years back (my son loved it). Really glad to see this was done with so much care, and I hope it's just a taste of things to come after the 50th anniversary. 

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I’m going to write a more extensive review later, but I think my favorite part is how they added to the mythos of the ride rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. Every 50 years they can come back. That’s so cool!

Cant wait for the 2072 production! :D

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26 minutes ago, BoddaH1994 said:

I’m going to write a more extensive review later, but I think my favorite part is how they added to the mythos of the ride rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. Every 50 years they can come back. That’s so cool!

Cant wait for the 2072 production! :D

Loved that as well. It wasn’t a “beat for beat” recreation of the ride-much like Disney did with pirates. The first film definitely had “ride easter eggs” but they were more thoughtful nods that they built a new story on. I just wish they had used a bit more of the theme music in the show-especially for the acrobatic segment. 

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1 hour ago, brenthodge said:

Loved that as well. It wasn’t a “beat for beat” recreation of the ride-much like Disney did with pirates. The first film definitely had “ride easter eggs” but they were more thoughtful nods that they built a new story on. I just wish they had used a bit more of the theme music in the show-especially for the acrobatic segment. 

Hindsight is 20/20, but I think that using sound effects from the ride during the acrobatics section would have been cool too. 
 

Some examples that could be peppered in would be:

-The guy struggling who was being tangled upsides down in the fly rope

-The “nooooooooo!!!” Of the guy that falls in the picture 

There are countless others. Just a thought. 
 

I’m also shocked that as soon as the show cuts at the end it does not bust out the “You’ll be back.” Maybe they’ll use that for the boiler room. 

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The recent KI Blog post about the show mentioned that Phantom Theater Encore was written by K.C. Gussler who is a show writer/director at Knott's Berry Farm. I'm not sure about his history with Kings Island but he does have a good sense of showmanship. That might explain why certain specific Phantom Theater beats didn't show up though.

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Full disclosure before reading my review: I am one of those people who never rode Phantom Theater when it was at the park (I was too scared as a kid), so that may influence my opinion of the show.

Saw it for the first time today and it was... random and unique. I definitely wasn't expecting multiple musical numbers, but somehow it worked! Though I'd heard about the

Spoiler

tapdancing

beforehand (on here), I appreciated how involved that scene was and it was really cool

Spoiler

to watch the hands when the stage got dark

Also,

Spoiler

the aerialists were great and it was nice to have a Cirque-like act back in the theater again.

However, I thought there would be more of a magic show element because somewhere along the line I heard the show would have illusions as well as one of the show's characters literally being a magician. Speaking of characters, the usher is my favorite (though Maestro is cool too) as I'm somewhat of a sucker for puppets. I just want to give him a high five or something lol

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If I had one "criticism" it would be that the show almost could be longer than just a half hour. They've created such a unique and colorful world inspired by the original attraction that I wouldn't mind seeing a couple more acts (like magic, more acrobatics/stunts, etc.) play out on the stage. It would be fun to have Phantom Theater Encore return in future seasons with newly "unearthed" performers!

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1 hour ago, flightoffear1996 said:

I found the show "too" loud and was having issues understanding them.

How close were you sitting?  I've found that the closer you sit to the center of the theatre the better. 

Also I would expect it has alot to do with who is running the soundboard.  

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1 hour ago, flightoffear1996 said:

We were only a few rows up.  

I had the same problem the first time I saw it, about 6 rows back, center. It was so loud that I had trouble enjoying it. Of course, this as the preview, so I just wrote it off for that. I haven’t had that problem since then. 

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6 hours ago, Timchat2 said:

If I had one "criticism" it would be that the show almost could be longer than just a half hour. They've created such a unique and colorful world inspired by the original attraction that I wouldn't mind seeing a couple more acts (like magic, more acrobatics/stunts, etc.) play out on the stage. It would be fun to have Phantom Theater Encore return in future seasons with newly "unearthed" performers!

I agree. I think it would be ok to have one show run a bit longer than the magic 25 minute mark. This could easily run 40 and not feel too long. I agree one more “act” or let the 3headliners actually perform a bit more instead of cramming it into a rushed production number that I still don’t quite get LOL. One more “dance number” wouldn’t be bad either. 

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I enjoyed it. I never experienced the original attraction beyond watching ride through videos on YouTube, but I thought it was a fun, inventive, & irreverent attempt to acknowledge a ride that a lot of fans still feel pretty passionate about, given how many lingered around in the lobby after the show to take in the items on display. Kings Island would do well to add at least a couple more people eater dark rides.

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I went yesterday.  I never experienced PT.  I was impressed, but agree, there is so much material it is hard to keep up (I feel the same way about the Fun, Fireworks and 50)--this is  not a terrible problem to have! ) Sensory overload.

I have a much better appreciation for the ride after experiencing the show (I use the word experiencing purposefully.  It is so much more than seeing the show.)  But what made me even more appreciative was seeing children get sooo into the production.  I saw clapping, dancing and smiles galore.

I also appreciated that the show harkened back to a day when things were not so "careful"...there were some things that I consider edgy...references to smoking, drinking and dates.  But all appropriately presented.  

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I think being written by K.C. Gussler from Knott's Berry Farm is a big part of that. Knott's has been really good about channeling old-fashioned showbiz numbers into their more recent shows, particularly at Christmas, so it's great to see some of those classic vibes brought into Phantom Theater Encore.

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Sounds like this will be an unpopular opinion (based on the reviews above), but I didn’t care for the show.

The opening usher was fun, and the opening trapeze act got our hopes up that it was going to be like past entertaining cirque shows.

But it went downhill quickly from there for my family.
Note: I had two boys; aged 10 & 12. And we didn’t ever ride enchanted theater while it was open. But I think a lot of visitors to the park might be in a similar place.

So we have no sentimental ties to the original ride.

Main complaints were that it was a musical. There are plenty of other shows around the park for those looking for a song and dance production. Ie the main stage by the fountains or the shows in festhaus. The KI theater has been about fun acts of entertainment. We have enjoyed the past shows of jugglers, acrobats, magicians, etc.

In addition to a lot of song/dance (and only 1 non song/dance “act”) it was often difficult to hear all of the parts.

We went. But unlike past shows that we’d see multiple times a summer (often multiple times a week), I’d be surprised if we watch it again.
Hopefully with the 50th anniversary, lots of nostalgic people are flooding the park; and the show will be a hit for them. But for my family, we just weren’t entertained.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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1 hour ago, chuck norris said:

Sounds like this will be an unpopular opinion (based on the reviews above), but I didn’t care for the show.

The opening usher was fun, and the opening trapeze act got our hopes up that it was going to be like past entertaining cirque shows.

But it went downhill quickly from there for my family.
Note: I had two boys; aged 10 & 12. And we didn’t ever ride enchanted theater while it was open. But I think a lot of visitors to the park might be in a similar place.

So we have no sentimental ties to the original ride.

Main complaints were that it was a musical. There are plenty of other shows around the park for those looking for a song and dance production. Ie the main stage by the fountains or the shows in festhaus. The KI theater has been about fun acts of entertainment. We have enjoyed the past shows of jugglers, acrobats, magicians, etc.

In addition to a lot of song/dance (and only 1 non song/dance “act”) it was often difficult to hear all of the parts.

We went. But unlike past shows that we’d see multiple times a summer (often multiple times a week), I’d be surprised if we watch it again.
Hopefully with the 50th anniversary, lots of nostalgic people are flooding the park; and the show will be a hit for them. But for my family, we just weren’t entertained.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Thanks for sharing a different perspective. I agree that a TON of why the show works is the nostalgia factor. I have wondered if it would have the same impact on people without the filter of that, and it sound like for you it didn’t. I also agree that the park oversold the “acts of illusion and acrobatics” a bit too much. I love the show but was a bit taken aback on preview night how song and dance it was. I was expecting a bit more “theme song of the ride underscores various cirque acts” as well. I’m not sure if I was pleasantly surprised, or just surprised by what actually made it to the stage. I agree it could’ve been a bit more of both-been longer, and actually would’ve been a show that benefitted more from a live band (even building out an orchestra “pit” that the costumed band was in and maestro rise out of) and larger cast. I b think it’s also important to remember as stated in the lobby, that this is a “different take” and an imagined vaudeville show based on the characters of the ride-not a retelling of the ride. 

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