Monday, 29 December 2014

The Phantom of the Opera: Review

The Phantom of the Opera has been seen by over 100 million people worldwide, and is the most commercially successful entertainment event ever. I had always promised my mother that my first visit to Her Majesty's Theatre would be with her, and so we embarked this evening.

The hype that comes with Phantom is unfathomable; celebrating its 28th year in London, following a sell-out 25th anniversary performance at the Royal Albert Hall starring Ramin Karimloo, and brand new productions touring the UK, US and further afield, it is easy to say that people can easily be swept up into the Phantom storm without seeing what is really behind that all to famous mask.

But if they were too look, as I did tonight, they would see a truly phenomenal production that, quite frankly, has blown everything I have ever seen out of the water. Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's outstanding score, combined with an excellent book by Webber and Richard Stilgoe enables seamless transitions between song and speech.

The Phantom (Gerónimo Rauch) taking Christine to his lair.
The musical itself is based on Gaston Leroux's novel 'Le Fantome de l'Opéra' and tells the story of Christine Daaé, a very talented soprano, who rises to success through the help of an "angel of music". The angel is more commonly referred to as The Phantom, and haunts the Paris Opera House within which Christine performs, ensuring that it is run the way he wants it to be run, and that horrible events take place when it isn't. All the time, the physically deformed and grotesque Phantom seeks the love of Christine, with whom he is obsessed, much to the displeasure of her childhood friend, Raoul.

The Phantom, this evening, was played by Gerónimo Rauch, and what an excellent performance it was! The pain etched on his face within his lair as he let Christine go reduced me to tears - the kind of tears where your entire body sobs with your eyes - making it very clear how he had previously held down a phenomenal almost 3 year run as Jean Valjean in nearby Les Mis.

Emmi Christensson, who played Christine, and Raoul, portrayed by Liam Tamne, had fantastic on-stage chemistry.Their Act 1 finale has adorable, creating a delightful contrast with the violent outburst from The Phantom sending the phenomenal chandelier crashing back to the stage.

Within a very talented group of singers and dancers, Alicia Beck stood out as Meg Giry, Christine's friend and confident. Every single time she walked on stage, my eyes went straight to her. On top of this, she danced excellently along with the remainder of the fantastic cast, who proved that Phantom is truly a collaborative effort in the infamous Act 2 opener, Masquerade.

The cast perform 'Masquerade'. 
The production designs of Maria Bjornson are incredibly famous and rightly so; I gasped each time the chandelier began another epic movement, the scene transitions were epic yet perfectly seemless, and the fact that the boat which takes The Phantom and Christine to his lair is moved by Victorian machinery is absolutely phenomenal. I can't help but think that new productions of this show are missing something without her fantastic settings.

The Phantom of the Opera is one of only three shows I have given a standing ovation - the others being the National Theatre's King Lear, and Matilda: The Musical - but, I am certain, that it was the most deserving. The fact that these astonishingly talented people are able to go out each and every night and perform the way they do blows my mind. The spectral narrative, underscored by that of true love, combined with a phenomenal score, live orchestra and cast ensure that The Phantom of the Opera remains inside your mind for a long time to pass.

This review was for a production seen on the 29th December 2014. During this period, Christine was normally played by Harriet Jones.


The Phantom of the Opera is currently booking at Her Majesty's Theatre until 26th September 2015. Tickets are available from the theatre box office, by calling 0844 412 2707, or by vising their website