‘The Brilliant Original’ have been words associated with the West End production of The Phantom Of The Opera for almost forty years. But now that accolade has gone after the production was closed due to coronavirus and producers decided it was time for a little freshening up of the show.
I don’t know the musical well enough to comment on all of the differences between this new production and the original and unless you are a die hard ‘phan’ of the show, you probably won’t notice too much has changed either. But one question I can answer is ‘does it still send adrenaline coursing through your veins when the overture starts and the famous chandelier rises’?
For me, sadly not. The whole thing just feels flat. Yes, we all know that the live orchestra has been hugely cut in numbers and replaced with some pre-recorded instruments but is that something you would notice as an audience member if you didn’t know? I doubt it. So what has changed to make the show lose its magic? I couldn’t put my finger on it.
The cast were all wonderful with Killian Donnelly showing his diverse acting and singing talent in the role of the Phantom. Every show I have seen him in from The Commitments to Memphis and Kinky Boots, he has never been typecast as one particular character and is wonderfully versatile. Lucy St Louis is a wonderfully vulnerable Christine and Rhys Whitfield is a very likeable Raoul. Saori Oda steals the show for me as Carlotta, bringing huge amounts of fun to the role and Francesca Ellis, as Madame Giry, also stands out for her performance.
The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of a man who haunts an old Paris theatre and lives in a lair underneath the building. So long as the theatre owners pay him what he asks each month and obeys any orders he gives, then all will be fine. But when new owners take over, they are less than enthusiastic about pandering to the demands of the Phantom and things start to go wrong. In the meantime, the Phantom has taken a young performer, Christine, under his wing and tutors her in singing. He becomes obsessed with her and wants them to be together, leaving her in a love triangle and having to make a very big decision.
The Phantom of the Opera is an Andrew Lloyd Webber classic that is sure to continue to appeal to tourists visiting London but whilst I have always enjoyed going to experience the live stage show every couple of years, something has changed for me and I didn’t get those spine tingling feelings I used to. I think I’ll stick to watching the 25th Anniversary show on TV in future.
Reviewed by West End Wilma