Yes, but will I like it?

theatrenow

Phil Willmott's no nonsense review of:

Phantom at Her Majesty's Theatre

Phantom What's it like?

An opulently staged romantic melodrama set to Andrew Lloyd Webbers most sumptuous score.

What's it about?

In nineteenth century Paris the Opera house is "haunted" by a masked phantom who intimidates the management into promoting his pupil, chorus girl Christine, to leading lady. However it becomes clear that the Phantom is flesh and blood and has romantic feelings for the girl when her love for handsome Rauol prompts him to jealous revenge. This climaxes in a stand off between the two men in the bowls of the Paris Opera house, where the phantom has his lair, and where Christine must choose between her two admirers.

Who's in it?

No well known names but when I saw it Earl Carpenter as the Phantom and Celia Graham as Christine were fantastic, although some of the other principals were a little under whelming.

Who'd enjoy it?

Romantics! Andrew Lloyd Webber fans and enthusiasts of great musical staging.

What should I look for?

This really is one of the most beautiful stage designs you're likely to see in commercial theatre. The sets. By the late Maria Bjornson don't so much change as melt into each other and the opulence of the Paris opera house is sometimes as effectively conjured up using shadows and darkness as it is by using expensive scenery.

At the beginning of Act Two the Opera House holds a masked ball - at last an environment where the disfigured Phantom, in his permanent mask, can move freely. But how cruelly ironic that the misery of his masked existence is just a New Years Eve party game for the beautiful guests.

A wonderful air of menace and foreboding is created right from the start in the bleak auction house prologue where mementos of the "Strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera" are being auctioned off on a stark, bare stage. Then the opera house comes thrillingly to life in all its glory as if conjured up from the Vicomte's memory.

Andrew Lloyd Webber cleverly combines rock music with Puccini inspired melody to give a modern edge to a historical setting.

The Phantom is actually physically on stage for a comparatively short space of time and yet his presence literally haunts all the proceedings making you feel he's always near.

Andrew Bridge's breathtaking lighting design often recreates the look of Degas paintings - particularly in the snatched glimpses we get of the little ballerinas.

Verdict:

Still reigns supreme as the best looking, most romantic night out in London.

by Phill Willmot
Thursday, July 7

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