Newest Review: ... to the finale of 'Down once More' I am a huge fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber and believe that The Phantom of the Opera is his best show. My ... more
The true definition of what it means to be successful in the West End.
Phantom of the Opera
Member Name: kama0529
Phantom of the Opera
Advantages: Brilliant story, fantastic music, fabulous performances.
Disadvantages: Its expensive. Need to book ahead.
Phantom of the Opera is a theatrical classic, and in many ways, it is the true definition of success in the West End.
I first saw Phantom of the Opera twenty years ago - and I have also seen it as recently as three months ago - and in that time, it has maintained its vibrancy and freshness in a way that's been achieved by only a handful of productions over the years.
The reason for its success is clear. It has a fantastic musical score, a mesmorizing set, and a story which is timeless and as relevant today as it would have been 500 years ago.
The central theme of the story is unrequited love, specifically that between "the Phantom" and his protege, Christine Dias. The Phantom, a disfigured recluse is the secret and mysterious tutor of Christine, a girl who rises (by serendipity and talent) from the chorus line at the Paris Opera, to the principal singer. Christine is everything the Phantom is not.....young, beautiful, desired....and it is almost as if he is living vicarously through her, enjoying her life in the way he cannot celebrate his own. Christine is torn, between the passion and sexual tension that exists between her and Phantom, and the more traditional match for her in the form of Raul. As the story progresses, Christine's feelings for Raul lead the audience to bear witness to the Phantoms increasing despair and insanity.
Whenever I've watched Phantom of the Opera, I cannot help but feel tremendous sadness and compassion for the Phantom - and the overwhelming desire to see him triumph. I am constantly led to question whether Phantoms feelings for Christine are based on love or obsession - or both - but ultimately my desire is to see the troubled, damaged yet brilliant Phantom conquer the dull and "safe" Raul - and want to see Christine take a chance on non-conformity. Right up until the last scene, we don't know which way she will go - and the sense of drama and suspense which is created never allows the ending to be a disappointment.
The music of Phantom of the Opera is world renowned. The headliners need no introduction - Phantom of the Opera, Music of the Night, All I ask of you......brilliant, over the time, dramatic and full of the big belt-it-out-notes that are such audience pleasers. However, by far my favourite song is "Past the Point of No Return"...a song filled with passion, danger, uncertainty and sensuality - and which truly reflects all aspects of the relationship between Phantom and Christine. All performers are always note and pitch perfect, and although I've have my favourite performers over the years, I have never been left disappointed.
There are sections of the production where I am not overly-enamoured with the genre of music. As the backdrop of Phantom of the Opera is unsurprisingly an "opera", there is a fair amount of opera music (especially early on) that I am not fond of. However, this does pass and the remaining musical score is compensation enough.
The whole production is over the top is true 1980's style (when it was first produced) and by that I mean that subtlety is not the order of the day. The sets and costumes are lavish and elegant - and its clear that no expense has been spared.
Phantom of the Opera is not a barrel of laughs....if its laughs you want then go and see Avenue Q or Mamma Mis. But Phantom of the Opera is entertainment at its very best. I have yet to go to Phantom of the Opera (and I've been about 10 times) when there has not been a standing ovation - which speaks for itself. At the end of the performance you can literally feel energy and emotion being emitted from the audience - and you feel like you've been part of something special.
Because of the adult themes, and the length of the show, I would suggest it is not appropriate to take children. In addition to this, I wouldn't say its for everyone. Its a bit like marmite....you either love it or hate it....but if you love it you'll want to see it again and again.
Like all West End musicals, going to see Phantom of the Opera is not cheap. The best seats (and I always get the best seats!) will cost about £70 per ticket. And you need to book a long time in advance if you want to get good seats.
In my opinion, Phantom of the Opera remains one of the best theatrical productions in history. And when you want to see more, there's always "Phantom of the Opera 2" in the guise of Love Never Dies. Brilliant!
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