Andrew Lloyd Webber's gothic spectacular is totally '80s in the best possible way
I’m not sure any show ‘deserves’ to be the most successful entertainment event of all time, but I’ll hand it current holder of that title, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ – it still works hard for its audience.
Sure, chunks of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s opus have never left 1986. But whereas describing a musical as ‘stuck in the ’80s’ is usually shorthand for cheap, thin synth orchestration, nothing could be further from the truth here: the portentously swirling keyboards and crunch of hair metal guitar that powers ‘Phantom’s title song have a black hole-like immensity, sucking you in with sheer juggernaut bombast.
Mostly, though, ‘Phantom…’ remains strong because its high production values haven’t been allowed to sag. The late Maria Björnson’s design is a heady barrage of ravishing costumes and lavish sets that change frequently, working in everything from pastoral jollity to an ancient Carthaginian theme on the way to the Phantom’s stunning underground lair.
It’s totally OTT – in one scene the Phantom zaps at his nemesis Raul with a staff that fires actual fireballs – and anybody who describes the plot (homicidal lunatic grooms girl) as romantic should probably be put on some sort of register. But its blazingly earnest ridiculousness and campy Grand Guignol story are entirely thrilling when realised with the show’s enormous budget. And while Hal Prince’s production may have been hailed as rather gauche back in the day, in 2013 it all comes across as rather more tasteful than the average jukebox musical.
Finally, there’s the cast: ‘Phantom’ remains a prestigious gig, and requires an operatic range beyond that of theatrical journeyperson. As the Phantom and his love Christine, Gerónimo Rauch and show veteran Sofia Escobar look the part and sing passionately and skillfully. Perhaps what has been lost since the days of Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman is a measure of acting ability, but if Rauch and Escobar are rather stiff (her in particular) then they do enough to successfully ride the wave of this still awesome spectacle.
This review is from April 2009. The cast now includes Ben Lewis (as the Phantom), Kelly Mathieson (as Christine Daae), Jeremy Taylor (as Raoul), Siôn Lloyd (Monsieur Firmin), Mark Oxtoby (Monsieur Andre), Lara Martins (Carlotta), and Jacinta Mulcahy (Madame Giry).
How to get cheap tickets: a limited number of day seats for Thursday matinee performances will go on sale at the box office on Thursday mornings from 10am, priced £25 each. In person only.
|Venue name:||Her Majesty's Theatre|
|Transport:||Tube: Piccadilly Circus|
|Price:||£25-£175. Runs 2hr 30min|
Average User Rating
4.5 / 5
- 5 star:43
- 4 star:13
- 3 star:4
- 2 star:2
- 1 star:1
The grande dame of the Westend scene. Yes it's a piece of 1980's grandiose operetta yet it has stood the test of time for very good reasons. It genuinely lives up to the hype. The score is stirring, costumes & sets are sensational, an entertaining plot & soaring vocals all combine to produce a sumptuous theatrical experience. Mr Lloyd-Webber's ultimate musical offering & a classical London experience.
I love love this stage play which I happened to see it twice I will recommend anyone to go and watch it its marvellous
Sadly for me and having seen the original Cast 3 times in the first month, this Reviewer perhaps does not remember that Brightman was barely audible even at Row E in the Stalls/orchestra seats, and Michael Crawford was excellent, but subsequent Phantoms definitely eclipsed his singing. I came back on a Matinee just to see and HEAR Claire Moore as Christine! And this was the first time i heard the role of Christine soar!
Amazing production and such an intense show! One that I have been dying to see for years and it definitely didn't disappoint. A mesmerising old school love story which was shown in a way that I have never seen before and with such passion. The music was amazing, I will be sure to recommend this to friends which haven't already seen it!
There's something about Phantom that captivates me every time and this, my third time, was no exception. From the opening bars I was absolutely thrilled with the familiar set, music and superb cast. Ben Forster was incredible as the Phantom, giving an unusually emotive performance that really captured the complexity of the character. The actress playing Christine was also excellent. Some of the friends I went with who hadn't seen it before found some parts comical and, on reflection, it is rather dated but that doesn't take away from this timeless classic for me. If anything, the theatrics only add to the spectacle that I will continue to see again and again in the West End.
A fantastic production that was a little unexpected. The staging and set design were amazing. I was captured from beginning to end, and I would definitely recommend to others! Beautiful songs, wonderful acting and very romantic! I've never been to Her Majesty's Theatre, but it was as beautiful as the show! The only drawback was the limited leg room but the show served as a fantastic distraction.
A classic that never dates. I could watch Phantom over and over again. I love everything about this long running west end staple
I watched it for the first time 18 months ago - I thought it was amazing and I was entralled by the production. It's slick, but in a 1990's kind of way
If you still haven't watched it, it definitely should be on your bucket list!
I wanted to see The Phantom of the opera since quite a long time and I could finally manage to have the oppotunity in London. It was a great musical. The acting and their skill as a singer were fantastic. I and my two daughters enjoy the play very much. I would like to see once again when I visit in London next time.
The first time I saw Phantom in London I was dragged along by 7 of my friends and mostly went for the meal and drinks beforehand, but it isn't exaggerating to say it changed my life. I fell in love instantly with the heart-wrenching storyline and beautiful music. I've been back over 10 times since, and watched the film countless times, but I still shed a tear for his dark fate. Sceptics, romantics, everyone... Watch this.
We found a great deal through Time Out; - two seats in the middle of the Stalls which were heavily discounted (less than a week until the show). We'd never seen this show before so went with it as we were looking for something to do on a Thursday night in London.. It didn't disappoint.. A very moving a dramtic production, highly entertaining. Thank you!
Absolutely amazing, the performers were all dressed in exquisite costumes and sang their hearts out. We loved the props and the way it was done. It also was lovely to see it in a smaller theatre. I would definitely recommend it
Over the last 10 years or so my husband & I have been up to the West End to see several musicals & have never been to see The Phantom 'til yesterday. I have to say that although the performers were magnificent, sadly it left me cold! We left the theatre not 'buzzing' but a little deflated. I would have rather spent the money revisiting Les Mis or The Lion King!!
The show certainly has its haters, but if you see this you will almost definitely not regret going. The music really is something special and the soprano who plays Christine is always eminently talented. Every friend I've taken to see it has become obsessed afterwards, but maybe that is because I only choose people with good taste as my friends.
wary of the opera content beforehand but brilliantly done. scenery great, singing excellent. we had a group of teenagers sitting in front of us, with one constantly messing,on the phone and talking which totally spoiled our time otherwise it would of been 5 stars. a must see even if u dont like opera that much
I love musicals, and first saw Phantom a few months after it opened. I loved the first half hour (up to and including Music of the night). Then, however, it went Berg ab. ALW reuses the few themes there is, and the text is pathetic (I love her, does that mean nothing? asks the hero, disregarding the fact that the Phantom also loves her, which clearly means dick all to everybody). Last time I saw it there was even more reuse. Strangely the punters still come, which goes to prove what marketing can do. Gladens non disputandem, of course, but disregarding the commercial success it is simply not well made.