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Robin Leach

Andrew Ragone’s love affair with Christine, Phantom, the music of the night

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Andrew Ragone, center, is flanked by his home state representatives Miss California Kristy Cavinder and Miss Florida Rachael Todd at The Venetian on Jan. 25, 2010.
Photo: Tom Donoghue/www.donoghuephotography.com
Andrew Ragone as Raoul in <em>Phantom -- the Las Vegas Spectacular</em> at The Venetian.

Andrew Ragone as Raoul in Phantom -- the Las Vegas Spectacular at The Venetian.

Andrew Ragone.

Andrew Ragone.

From July 14 through Aug. 4, Robin Leach will be relaxing under the Tuscan sun on his annual vacation and will keep his eyes on what’s happening in Las Vegas from Italy. Meantime, a kindly crew of Las Vegas celebrities and VIPs has agreed to write guest columns for Vegas DeLuxe.

By Andrew Ragone, guest columnist

The most rewarding part of performing in a live theatrical show versus other mediums such as TV or film is getting that immediate response from an audience. There is truly nothing like it. From hearing the audience’s laughter and gasps (for example, when a giant chandelier crashes down on them!) to watching couples hold each other a little closer to catching people wiping tears from their eyes, the audience is truly the other member of the show each night.

After a performance, it is especially amazing to hear from our Las Vegas audiences who are from all over the country and world. Whether it is a note via Facebook or talking with them after the show about how the production moved them, it serves as a big reminder of what an incredibly powerful, moving experience Phantom -- The Las Vegas Spectacular is for everyone.

Recently after a show, I met up with fans in the theater lobby. The youngest kid in the group, a boy about 4 years old, spoke up and said, “I don’t think that The Phantom is a bad guy. It’s just nobody loved him because his face is ugly.”

I laughed and agreed, but thought, “Wow, at such a young age, he was able to grab a hold of the big picture and message.” I couldn’t believe it! I figured that he would have just been mesmerized with the enormous set pieces such as the chandelier, or the fact that we have fireworks onstage every night, but he was able to comprehend the meaning of the show.

That very same evening as I was walking away, this married couple walked up, practically in tears, and talked about how moved they were and how important this show has been to them. They’ve seen the show before, but they keep coming back to Las Vegas, more than 20 times, because of how unique and special the production is to them.

I was hit with a memory of the night I first saw The Phantom of the Opera as a kid. I remember the final scene and the lights coming up and being so completely stunned at the end of the show that I just sat in the theater speechless. I couldn’t believe what I had just seen -- it was so moving and powerful. This show is one of the reasons I pursued acting.

Being a part of a $35 million production (and another $40 million on our beautiful custom-built theater) at The Venetian, which is unsurpassed in theatrical history, there are many moments I stand onstage and pinch myself. Life has really come full circle. Phantom -- The Las Vegas Spectacular truly is spectacular, not only in visual terms in which it certainly delivers, but also as an incredibly emotional and intoxicating theatrical work. When I stand onstage, I remember the kid I was and how this show changed me.

Young, old and every age in between, it’s not just one moment that grabs audiences, I realize now. It is how this show puts it all together. It’s every piece that matters. From the lush, passionate music to the moving acting and scenes to the breathtaking sets to how Phantom -- The Las Vegas Spectacular makes the audience a part of the show. It is a story that everyone can understand. I am honored to do my part as an artist to tell this story and hopefully inspire new and old audiences every night.

Andrew Ragone portrays Raoul in Phantom -- The Las Vegas Spectacular at The Venetian. Tomorrow’s guests columnists are comedians Grandma Lee and Louis Anderson.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

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