“The Three Phantoms,” in a two-day visitation at the Hawaii Theatre, is more than three dudes uniting in songs for fellowship and fun.

The show, organized by Broadway vet Craig Schulman, opened last night (Oct. 29) and repeats at 2 p.m. today (Oct. 30).

Schulman, beloved in Hawaii for his two-visit performance as Jean Valjean in  “Les Miserables” back in the day, clearly is the centerpiece of the revue though his colleagues Gary Mauer and Keith Buterbaugh.  are singularly impressive. Together – in solos, duets and trios – The Three Phantoms (yep, they all have headlined as the masked marvel in their careers) put on a panorama of Great White Way tunes you know or have forgotten.

Over a splendid two-hour retrospective of  tunes from Broadway musicals performed by gents, the trio shared 18 songs, in an appealing stroll down memory lane that revived tunes rarely sung today. Schulman, Mauer and Buterbaugh are tenors, able to reach the upper-register notes, but Buterbaugh also has depth as a baritone. And these voices emphatically show that each actor is a leading player in the theatrical spectrum.

Craig Schulman

I loved the segments that featured awesome overtures/instrumentals, no vocals, including “Oklahoma,” rendered by a tireless and expressive six-member local orchestra featuring John Kolivas, bass; Abe Lagrimas Jr., drums; Todd Yukumoto, sax; Rick Broadwell, trumpet; and Monica Chung, synthesizer.

The show’s pianist-conductor Dan Riddle shaped a rhapsodic and awesome “Phantom” montage leading towards a trio delivery of “Music of the Night,” the highly anticipated ballad with shadings expected from a gang who’s been there, done that. This finale had comedic preludes as the guys feigned singing the tune solo during several false starts that were part of the scheme.

So what, among the numbers, were stunning?

Certainly, Schulman’s iconic signature, “Bring Him Home,” from “Les Miz,” rich with emotional wallop, bringing down the house. He is the actor who has played Valjean in 2,500 performances, the most ever by anyone, so yes, he “owns” the tune. A close second among his conquests: “This Is the Moment,” from “Jekyll and Hyde,” with its requisite roller-coaster vocal dynamics. Boy, his pipes are still sizzling-hot

Gary Mauer

Certainly, Mauer’s “Gethsemane” from “Jesus Christ Superstar,” embodied the intensity of the Jesus he played on stage.

Certainly, Buterbaugh is expressive medley from “Sweeney Todd,” a show he’s conquered earlier.

The threesome got good mileage from “They Call the Wind Maria,” from “Paint Your Wagon,” one of the rarely-heard-these-days treats.

Perhaps the “Brotherhood of Man,” from “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” underscored the mantra of The Three Phantoms; rapport comes from togetherness, bonding minds, hearts, and spirits. Consequently, “Standing on the Corner,” also a trio entry from “The Most Happy Fella,” reflected a similar sentiment.

Keith Buterbaugh

 The show’s format was logical: background show title templates were flashed, providing clues on what’s coming. And the tunes from each show must’ve required some curating; like, “Damn Yankees,” one of two encore ditties, focused on “You Gotta Have Heart,” a baseball-oriented tune that spills over into everyday life. Heart and hope matter.

The second encore, “White Sandy Beach of Hawaii,” was joyous surprise and the local-song-choice endeared the audience. The Three Phantoms know how to anchor a show!

Access to the Hawaii Theatre was difficult because downtown crowds gathered by the hundreds for a pre-Halloween street party, which blocked sidewalks and made access to parking garages a challenge. Folks attending today’s final matinee shouldn’t have barriers and blockage; the tricks were outside last night, but treats awaited inside…

And that’s Show Biz. …

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