Thursday, 6 February 2014

'The Phantom of the Opera' Her Majesty's Theatre *****

One of the most successful musicals of all time ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ has been moving audiences from around the globe since it first premiered in 1986 and for me twenty eight years later it still has that sparkle that it must have had all those years ago. For those who do not know of the story, written by Gaston Lerouse in 1905, we are transported to the Paris Opera House, of course in 1905 where an auction of old theatre props is taking place and from this Lot 666 is explained which is a shattered chandelier, this has become a spectacle in British musical theatre and this soon rises out into the audience and posited as it once stood and from this the plot begins. I have not seen ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ since 2010 and for me four years later it still amazes me at how the narrative still captures audiences imaginations and emotions from when Michael Crawford stepped out as the original Phantom nearly thirty years ago. The current Phantom, Geronimo Rauch is outstanding as he encapsulates a disfigured man who becomes obsessed with Christine Daae, a Swedish chorus girl and coaches her from behind a mirror in the art of opera to make her a miraculous singer and performer. It’s a romance story that turns into a tragedy as Christine, played so effortlessly by Olivia Brereton takes advantage of the Phantom’s gift and forms a love story with the slightly pompous Raoul, Victome de Changny (Sean Palmer) and this aggravates the Phantom immensely as he feels that Christine belongs to him. The musical is most definitely Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s fruitful show to date and it’s a personal one as it was intentionally written for the woman who has was passionately in love with at the time, Sarah Brightman, who was cast as the original Christine. The production’s musical numbers are without doubt engaging and will still move an audience of both men and women to tears. “The Phantom of the Opera” and the “Overture” always gives me goose bumps and this was not lacking here and “Masquerade” provides an electrifying moment that will make you want to join in with the action. Charles Hart’s lyrics are simply magical and this show was his West End debut and he has never looked back. The direction by the brilliant Hal Prince still has the believability that it must have had way back in 1986 and the work in creating the romance between the Phantom and Christine is outstanding as Prince has worked with this in comprehensive detail. What a wonderful job it is too I might add. The sequence with the boat is extraordinary. Gillian Lynn’s chorography is captivating throughout and Maria Bjornson’s design is phenomenal. Here’s to another twenty eight years and long may it continue to inspire audiences. 

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