Newest Review: ... a pleasant way to spend a few hours but not amazing, maybe I went in with too higher expectations. Phantom of the Opera is currently... more
Let your heart take you where you long to be
Phantom of the Opera
Member Name: DancingCopper
Phantom of the Opera
Advantages: Embraces the full range of West End theatricality; superb musical score; engaging story
Disadvantages: Some sight-lines are not great, particularly the further you are from the centre
The Phantom of the Opera has been running in the West End since 1986, making it the second longest-running musical there. The plot is simple; the characters are engaging and the music is superb.
The play opens with a dingy and cold set, where a range of characters have gathered for the auctioning of theatrical paraphernalia at the Opera Populaire in Paris. Of particular interest is a musical toy, bid for ferociously by two people. The theatre's broken chandelier is then put up for auction, being described as having played a mysterious part in the theatre's past.
And then you get a little moment of modern theatrical magic, which I'm not going to spoil. But be prepared to grip your arm-rests and feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand up! There are lots of those in this show, and I really, really want to tell you about them, but it's better when you see them yourself.
The main story is told retrospectively, and we are transported back in time thirty years, where the Opera Populaire is a flourishing artistic community of dancers, singers and all those needed to create lavish productions. The opera company has just been taken over by two new owners who observe their new domain with interest. In particular, the dancer Christine Daae catches their eye. She is, at the time, merely a chorus member, and the new owners are treated to an aria by the company's diva, Carlotta.
During her performance, the Phantom makes his presence and feelings towards Carlotta known. He also welcomes the new owners by letter, explaining the role he intends to continue playing despite the change in ownership. They are not impressed, resulting in an increasing number of hostile actions, perpetrated by the Phantom.
Once such incident results in Christine taking the lead role in a performance. Raoul, the new patron of the Opera Populaire, watches and is smitten. He visits Christine after the performance, inviting her out. She declines, fearing the wrath of her 'Angel of Music', who has been developing her ability to sing.
The plot focuses on three things: the Phantom's infatuation with Christine, and his possessiveness of her; Raoul's love for Christine and how it attracts the Phantom's vengeance; the battle for control of the Opera Populaire, and the way the new owners try and maintain a sense of normality in increasingly hostile circumstances.
The play has been resident in Her Majesty's Theatre since 1986. The theatre has been in existence on the site since the 18th century, changing name depending on the gender of the reigning monarch. The stage is the standard proscenium arch found in most West End theatres. This works with the play's representation of a working opera company. The number and scale of set pieces is impressive, with various aspects of the Opera Populaire being recreated. There really is a lake under the one in Paris! To reveal much more would be to spoil the experience and Phantom is truly a visual delight. The production is enhanced by its use of effects, without being over-burdened - one of the problems I had with Miss Saigon.
Arguably Andrew Lloyd Webber's best musical, the show contains many superb numbers. The production's orchestra is larger than you would normally find in a show, creating a richer sound. The songs range from full-company operatic numbers, to moving solos. They contain passion, anger, love and hope, all delivered more tangibly than in many other shows.
This is one of those must-see musicals you cannot ever imagine being off stage. It has a tremendously loyal following, with people seeing the show many times. I believe you should see it at least once. There are so many likeable characters, with the destructive relationship between The Phantom, Christine and Raoul creating a spell-binding experience.
See it soon, because Lloyd Webber is now working on the sequel!
---------- Theatre Information ----------
(taken from Londontheatredirect.com/asp/PhantomofTheOpera.htm)
Running Time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Her Majestys Theatre
Box office tickets: £20 - 55
(Search using Google for better prices on specific deals through Ticketmaster and other agents; you can always go to the Tkts kiosk in Leicester Square if you're feeling lucky)
---------- References ----------
Summary: The must-see musical phenomenon
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