The Phantom of the Opera is one of the worlds longest running musicals, opening in London in 1986 and still going strong today. Based on the novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux, it is inspired by real events that happened at the Paris Opera in the early nineteenth century.
The Phantom of the Opera 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 Phantom’s demands 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.
In September, the show had one of the biggest cast changes it has had for a while and I finally got around to going to check them out in action!
Kelly Mathieson makes her West End debut in the role of Christine and plays it with a youthful approach and sweet vulnerability. Ben Lewis previously starred in the Australian production of the Phantom sequel Love Never Dies and now joins the cast of Phantom to play the other side of the story. Ben is easy to warm to and has great stage presence. Former Fiyero, Jeremy Taylor joins the cast as Raoul and his voice is nicely suited to the part and Lara Martins brings a new level of comedy to the part of Carlotta and was a joy to watch.
The music is clearly what stands out in this show and is some of Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s greatest work. From the hugely popular Music of the Night and Phantom of the Opera, to Christine’s beautiful Think of Me and Wishing I Was Somehow Here Again, there is something musically in this show for everyone to love. Comedy comes from Monsieur Firmin and André in the song Notes and Masquerade is a wonderful big number with the whole cast.
The Dress Circle is the place to sit if you want to see The Phantom Of The Opera to get the best view of the whole stage and some of the special effects that happen during the show. I had forgotten how slick and well produced the show is but seeing this new cast reminded me of exactly what it has been playing in the West End for thirty two years. It is sheer brilliance!
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Johan Persson