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New version of 'Phantom of the Opera' begins Minneapolis run

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More than 27 years after its debut in London, Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic musical "The Phantom of the Opera" has hit the road on another U.S. Broadway tour – but this time with a different look and feel.

The show begins its Minneapolis run at the Orpheum Theatre Friday and runs through Jan. 5.

Ben Jacoby, who plays the pivotal role of Raoul in the musical, told me in a phone interview Thursday what sets the new production apart from the one that's been seen by more than 130 million people worldwide since 1986.

Jacoby said faithful fans shouldn't fret over changes with the music, because the production's beloved songs are still there. The biggest change previous viewers will notice, he said, is with the set and how the narrative is rooted in realism.

"The set has been redesigned. Since the show originally opened in the 1980s, we've found that we can do a lot more technically now than we could back then," Jacoby said. "In terms of the storytelling, it's been described as 'darker and more gritty,' and I agree with that."

Jacoby said audiences will definitely sense a change in tone with Raoul, Christine's (Julia Rose Udene) childhood friend who re-enters her life just as the Phantom (Mark Campbell) professes his love for the ingénue.

"You can't take away from the fact that Christine and Raoul sing 'All I Ask of You,' so there's a level of similarity among the characters, but there's also a sort of different interaction between them," Jacoby said.

The actor has a unique connection to "The Phantom of the Opera" in that his father, Mark Jacoby, played the Phantom on Broadway from 1991-93.

"The show feels extra special to me because things have come full circle," Ben Jacoby said. "It's been a special show that's been in my family a long, long time, and now I'm happy to be a part of the new production of it."

Minneapolis is only the second stop on the new tour, following its debut in Providence, Rhode Island, earlier this month.

The Associated Press has more on the new production, including an interview with Campbell.

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