The Phantom of the Opera review - July 2015
Phantom stands the test of time and is still one of the world's greatest theatrical masterpieces.Phantom of the Opera is one of the longest running shows in the world and one of the best musicals to have ever graced the West End with its presence. As the show ebbs close to its 30th birthday, it is still very much in its prime.
I consider Phantom to be a “total” piece of theatre in that all elements of the production work in a glorious harmony. The set is wonderful, the lighting is great, the costumes are exemplary and the acting is always on point. Yes, it is true that all components of this show are consistently brilliant, but the most stand out is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s timeless and engaging music. To me this is musical score to end all musical scores, rivalled only by Boubil and Schoenberg's Les Miserables. Okay, some pieces do have a cheeky 80’s flavour which now seems charmingly dated, but there remains a beauty and brilliance to the way this show sounds.
On the evening I saw the show Gerónimo Rauch played a fearless Phantom as he demonstrated the powerhouse vocals required for the show. Next to him, Harriet Jones played a beautifully tortured Christine Daaé. Jones truly brought the house down with her Act Two heart rendering, goose bump inducing delivery of “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again.”
I was lucky enough to catch one of Fiona Finsbury’s last turns as opera diva Carlotta. Finsbury has impressed me in the past and this time was no different; she makes the perfect jilted prima dona and her facial expressions (bitch brows!) are continually hilarious. Overall it seems to me that casting standards were set high in 1986 and they have never been allowed to drop; there are no weak links and moments where the cast come together, such as Act 2 opener "Masquerade," are utterly glorious.
I am always very confused as to why Phantom is painted as a great love story, as it clearly a deeply abusive and unhealthy portrayal of unrequited love. That said, Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe’s book is beautifully twisted and emotive and just as relevant and poignant today as it was in 1986.
Whilst there are some elements of the show I would personally give a little re-spruce (a dubious lightning effect and some undeniable 80’s beats.) The show has stood the test of time. 30 years on and Phantom is still the talk of the town and a must see for all visitors to the capital. I have seen it three times but that wouldn’t stop me going a fourth.
2 July 2015, Her Majesty's Theatre