Dr. Blackwell's BLOG

Monday, October 3, 2011

Theater Review: The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary Performance Live from London’s Royal Albert Hall

Filed under: Performing Arts — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 00:37

The Phantom of the Opera turned 25 years old today and an amazing spectacle of the classic show was staged at London’s Royal Albert Hall to celebrate the occasion. Phantom Live was beamed via satellite to movie theaters across the United States and other parts of the world on Sunday. The show began at 2pm ET (8pm London time) and was attended by celebrities and numerous actors, producers, and other key players of the musicals’ success, including composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and producer Cameron Mackintosh. This production was incredible! The ensemble cast was more than double the size of the standard Phantom production, which gave numbers like “Masquerade” and even “Prima donna” an amazing power that was seen in the motion picture version of the film but is impossible to replicate on the stage.

In addition to the large cast, a 200-piece orchestra provided the lush background score for the musical, sending chills up and down my spine countless times during the show. The Phantom score has some incredible woodwind and string accompaniment that sets the darkness of the show and also adds to the music’s rich beauty. With an orchestra of such an enormous size, all of this was amplified amazingly well in this production, yet still not quite to the richness found in the movie version of the musical. The sets and staging were much different here as well. While the sets of the traditional stage are ever-changing and punctuated by special effects and pyrotechnics, much of this was accomplished by large digital projections which spanned the entire stage from left-to-right and above the orchestra, that was placed above the action on the stage. A scaffolding bridge also served to execute certain numbers (eg. the first journey Christine takes with the Phantom down to his liar).

The digital projections worked most of the time and even added to the show’s elements, with a projection of the phantom engaged in the background of various scenes. For example, this is seen when the Opera Populaire’s managers read the Phantom’s notes signaling the need to replace Carolotta with Christine Daae in the opera’s production of Il Muto. Simultaneously, in the superior projection, an image of the Phantom writing the notes is seen along with a scrolling of their words. The only issue with the digital projections came with a few of the closeup shots, where the screens could be seen in the background and appeared slightly pixilated.

The actors in this 25th Anniversary spectacular were phenomenal! They were by far the best cast I have ever seen perform in these roles; and I’ve seen this show presented on Broadway, in Las Vegas, and on countless national tours. Of course, the strongest of the cast were the leads. The Phantom was played by Ramin Karimloo, who not only provided his breathtakingly gorgeous voice for the Phantom, but gave what can only be described as a tour de force performance! I have never seen an actor play that role more perfectly. Christine Daae was played by Sarah Boggess, who gave a spine-tingling performance and made the theater erupt with applause many times during the show, which is quite an accomplishment given I was watching it in a movie theater!

“Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” was probably the highlight of the show; and the audience in the Royal Albert Hall applauded for a solid two minutes at the song’s reprisal. Both of these actors are Phantom veterans who were most recently seen in these roles in Webber’s Phantom sequel Love Never Dies in the West End. The supporting players were also great. My only criticism is for Hadley Fraser, who played the role of Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny. While Fraser has a great powerful voice, the role of Raoul has a sense of sweetness and tenderness that seemed to be lacking.

The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary performance at the Royal Albert Hall was simply put, beautiful. Anyone who is a fan of the show should see this staging during its encore showings in theaters nationwide. If you’re unable to make it, the show will be released on DVD in November. But, even the most window-shattering home theater systems will not do this production justice. It really should be enjoyed on the big screen in the theater. For a list of showtimes and dates (there are only a few) to see the show at a theater near you, click the link below: http://www.fathomevents.com/performingarts/series/phantomoftheopera.aspx. Below is a trailer for the show:

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Powered by WordPress