WOW! I have to say I’m really impressed and now I can see why it received such fantastic reviews. I’m currently watching the 25th anniversary concert of Phantom of the Opera which was filmed live at The Royal Albert Hall in early October 2011. After the Les Mis concert I had my doubts but this is FAR superior.
Whilst the Les Mis concert was filmed at the massive O2 arena in London this was done on a slightly smaller scale at the Royal Albert Hall but it works far better. In the Les Mis concert they just stood at microphones, this is like the proper production of the show that has been filmed live with a WONDERFUL cast all of which are from the West End.
The plot is exactly the same as any other version. A tale of a mad and twisted musical genius who ‘haunts’ the Opera house after he was brought there rescued by Madame Giry the ballet mistress when they were both just children. After Diva Carlotta storms out Christine Daae is cast as the new leading lady of the Opera Populaire and is delighted to find that her childhood friend Raoul now the Vicomte de Chagny is the new patron of the Opera House.Christine reminds Raoul about the “Angel of Music” stories that her late father used to tell them, and confides that the Angel has visited her, and taught her to sing. Raoul laughs at her “fantasies”, and invites her to dinner. He exits, and a jealous Phantom appears in Christine’s mirror in the clever guise of The Angel of Music.
Later on Raoul hatches a plan to use Don Juan Triumphant the Phantom’s own Opera as a trap to capture the Phantom. Christine, torn between her love for Raoul and her gratitude towards the Phantom , visits her father’s grave. The Phantom appears, but Raoul arrives to protect her. The Phantom declares war upon them both.
Don Juan Triumphant débuts, with Christine and Ubaldo Piangi, the Opéra’s leading tenor, singing the lead roles. During their duet, Christine suddenly realises that she is singing not with Piangi, but with the Phantom himself. Christine tears off his mask to expose his hideous face to the audience, as Piangi is found strangled backstage. Seizing Christine, the Phantom flees the theatre, pursued by an angry mob led by Meg. Madame Giry tells Raoul about the Phantom’s subterranean lair—and reminds him to beware the Punjab lasso.
All three main characters unite in the “Phantoms lair” but ‘who will survive?’ and ‘what becomes of the Phantom of the Opera?’ will have to be questions which remain unanswered until you watch it !
The company listing on the official website lists an incredible 99 ensemble members, plus 20 dancers and 19 principles (yes, I really counted). That’s 138 cast members, and goodness only knows how many techs !
Ramin Karimloo was cast as The Phantom. He has a great voice but compared to John-Owen Jones who I saw in the West end in 2010 he doesn’t really come close. Don’t get me wrong he’s a wonderful actor and singer, I’m just not sure about him as the phantom and I definitely wouldn’t describe him as spectacular. I have to say his performance improves throughout the show. During the first part of “Music of the Night” I felt that he was just very nervous or trying too hard.
Sierra Boggess does a faultless performance of Christine far superior to Tabitha Webb (the cover Christine I saw in London) her voice is sublime hitting all the high notes effortlessly and she covers her American accent extremely well. She captures the naivety and innocence of Christine Daae perfectly! I have to say that in my opinion she’s much more talented than the original Christine (Sarah Brightman) whose shrill voice makes me wince a little bit at times.
Hadley Fraser (probably best known for performances as Grantaire in the 25th anniversary concert of Les Mis and is now playing inspector Javert in the West End) makes a wonderful Raoul , again his voice is stunning and he sang extremely well for those who have seen the DVD. I couldn’t help but notice that he was wearing A LOT of eyeliner which I’m positive was applied at every chance- at the final bows he seemed to resemble a panda !!
Wendy Somerville as Carlotta is brilliant and was covering for Keira Duffy who was originally cast but had to pull out of the role due to a throat infection. I saw her in London, she’s perfect as the selfish, well-built and flamboyant ‘opera diva’ again with a great vocal range.
I love Madame Giry she’s very different in the stage version than she is in the film. In the film she’s kind but more mysterious in this she’ s a bit more of a ‘battle axe’ type of character.
At the end of the show a choral arrangement was sung including Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman the original Phantom and Christine. I got a shock when I saw Sarah Brightman she’s clearly overdone the plastic surgery or Botox as her face looked really bizarre !A choral arrangement of ‘The Music of the Night’ was then performed by Colm Wilkinson (original Canadian cast), the sensational John Owen Jones, Anthony Warlow and finally Swedish pop singer and musical theatre star Peter Jöback, who I have since learned is to join the London production from March 2012 as The Phantom. Finally, Sarah Brightman and the men sang the title track live and the show came to a close, Michael Crawford took a bow but didn’t sing.
Overall I loved the concert and I feel very fortunate that I have seen John-Owen Jones as the Phantom who I feel is superior to Ramin Karimloo in the role of the Phantom as his voice is more powerful and he puts more emotion into his acting. ( Don’t hate me – that’s just a personal opinion)