The Phantom of the Opera

Theatre, Musicals Her Majesty's Theatre , St James' Until Saturday March 3 2018
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 (© Johan Persson)
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© Johan Persson

Ben Forster and Celinde Schoenmaker in 'The Phantom of the Opera'

 (© Johan Persson)
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© Johan Persson

The cast of 'The Phantom of the Opera'

 (© Johan Persson)
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© Johan Persson

Celinde Schoenmaker plays Christine in 'The Phantom of the Opera'

 (© Johan Persson)
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© Johan Persson

Ben Forster as The Phantom in 'The Phantom of the Opera'

 (© Johan Persson)
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© Johan Persson

Celinde Schoenmaker plays Christine in 'The Phantom of the Opera'

 (© Johan Persson)
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© Johan Persson

Celinde Schoenmaker plays Christine in 'The Phantom of the Opera'

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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 title role is currently played by Ben Forster, who won Andrew Lloyd Webber's ITV1 reality show 'Superstar'. The cast of 'The Phantom of the Opera' also includes Celinde Schoenmaker (Christine Daae), Nadim Naaman (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. 

By: Andrzej Lukowski

Posted:

Venue name: Her Majesty's Theatre
Contact:
Address: 57 Haymarket
London
SW1Y 4QL
Transport: Piccadilly Circus tube
Price: £23-£125. Runs 2hr 30min
Event website: http://www.thephantomoftheopera.com
To improve this listing email: feedback@timeout.com

Average User Rating

4.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:41
  • 4 star:13
  • 3 star:3
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|61
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Sosh_uk
1 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

Amazing! Wow! Wonderful! What a show, this production has been in the West End for years and still doesn't fail to disappoint. The lights, set and production is phenomenal and the chandelier scene is brilliant. The music is sooooo powerful and since watching it I put the sound track on repeat. Top tip Don't get balcony seats at the sides, as there really is a restricted view.

Misha M.
tastemaker

We've gone to watch this a while ago, Phantom has lived up to its expectation. I love the music, this was one of my fav soundtracks in college. 

Sonia C

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.

Lucy Loo
Tastemaker

I'm a big fan of musicals but for some reason Phantom has always passed me by. I finally got the chance to see the show recently with a friend and WOW! I absolutely loved it. Superb performances, memorable songs, beautiful sets and incredible costumes. I would highly reccomend this show to everyone.

Ladyvp
Tastemaker

So as a production this is good. But I I did not like this show at all. I left half way through. It could not get into it, I didn't like the songs- a lot of which I recognized through popular culture but did not realize was from this show. But I did not like it at all. I thought was quite childish and dated. 

Parklife
tastemaker

I got taken here as a treat last Friday and had no expectations of the show. My only exposure to it had been through a Simpsons reference (Martin Prince) and knowing that Michael Crawford had starred in it. I was thus unprepared for what was about to hit me. Her Majesty’s Theatre is a grand venue, and although I was not impressed by the lack of legroom and the rather officious enforcement of photo bans, the comical ice-cream seller made up for it in his friendly patter.

The tone was set by the slightly eerie and atmospheric auction scene at the beginning which would introduce us to relevant props that would feature later on. This is essentially a love story between three people, which will cleverly have you switching loyalties throughout. Ben Forster as The Phantom and Celinde Schoenmaker as Christine provide powerful performances. The resplendent costumes, stage effects and memorable songs are a feast for all the senses. This probably reaches a peak during the Masquerade scene.

I would definitely recommend at least one visit (and repeated viewings to catch everything going on if you can).

elladacas
tastemaker

What do you get when you put dramatic effects and crazy amazing vocals together!?! .....this!!

If you Like opera then look no further. The phantom of the Opera is full of compelling scenes and hair raising songs.. The storyline itself is pretty good and well enacted. I've watched it twice now and I'm thinking I'll make it a third soon!

Nebi

I love love this stage play which I happened to see it twice I will recommend anyone to go and watch it its marvellous

Allasyummyfood
tastemaker

I was taken to see Phantom of the Opera few weeks ago, and I really enjoyed it! It was my first time seeing opera and I was really impressed. The set was amazing, the music and the dancing was mesmerising. I would really recommend everyone to go and see this, because it is worth the money. 

Daniel L
Tastemaker

The Phantom of the Opera is one of the longer running, if not the longest running, musical in London, and probably one of the famous ones. It has been remade into a film as well which to be honest is equally enjoyable as the theatre production (I don’t say that too often). The theatre production has a strong cast which are able to deliver the extremely powerful songs. Having seen the broadway version, I wanted to compare the London version and I can say that even though broadway was better, the London one was just as enjoyable. The leads are great and the set is amazing. You really feel like you are part of the action as well when the chandelier on top falls down. I was lucky enough to get a seat directly below so that added to the whole experience. Highly recommended for any locals or tourists alike. Afterall, there is a reason this musical has been around for so long.

Photosbysooz
Tastemaker

I don't know what it is about this show, but I just absolutely loved it. It's an all time classic, been playing successfully for nearly thirty years and rightly so. It really is Andrew Lloyd Webber at his greatest. The emotion, the songs, the atmosphere all add together to create a show so wonderful that you fully lose yourself in it for the whole performance. Standing ovations from me every single time.

Anthony S

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!

Richard N
Tastemaker

One of the timeless ones. Do yourself a favour and find out exactly why people love the Music of the Night. This is Andrew Lloyd Webber at his best: the plot doesn't always make sense, but every song will worm it's way into the collective memory of the audience and have them pretending to be opera singers in the shower when they get home after. A beautiful set design and theatrics make for a very memorable performance, not to mention the chandelier, which will never, ever get old. I can't recommend Phantom enough - this is required watching for anyone who's into musicals. 

Lise M
Tastemaker

Another tick off my London bucketIist! It had been ages since I wanted to see this famous West End classical. It's easy to understand why The Phantom of Opera is one of the longest show running in London...It's absolutely breathtaking mixing tragedy and poesy with sumptuous decors, beautiful costumes especially during the 'Masquerade' scene, fabulous acting and singing....and incredible special effects. My favorite moments were the 'Masquerade' scene and 'The Phantom and Christine's journey to the underworld' where they seem to be floating in the mist. It's definitely one of the London must see either you are a musical fan or someone coming to see the show for the 1st time.






retroashlat
tastemakerTastemaker

I've been lucky enough to see this show twice over the last few years and both times I was not disappointed. I didn't have super high hopes, as this musical is one of a particular status and I generally find Andrew Lloyd Webber's work to be overdrawn (sue me). But holy hell. I was blown away by the staging, the music, and the actual performances the cast gave. I got chills when I heard the opening notes and was bawling by the time I got to "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again - the acting in juxtaposition with the lush score was incredible. My sister and friend who came to watch it with me for a second time in the spring of 2015 really enjoyed it as well. 


Considering that I grew up with this score (I was an aspiring musical theatre actress when I was a kid), this show did it justice. Tenfold.

jeaniekarl
Tastemaker

Dramatic, dark and menacing tale of unrequited love, romance and obsession. A classic musical who's longevity on the West End is only proof of why this is firm public favourite which I believe will remain running for many years to come. Everyone knows the story of Phantom of the Opera. Seen the film, read the book but it's the musical that left the biggest impression on me. As soon as you hear the intro to the striking familiar theme song there is no doubt over what you are watching. The set design and whole theatre itself sets the mood and atmosphere. The most memorable scene when they are on a gondola within the mist amongst candles is a striking haunting image that you are unlikely to forget for a while. If you're observant and quick, watch out for Phantom run across the top of the stage during the interval. Cast are excellent, incredible and super talented. The music and songs are ultimate musical classics and you will be humming these for days afterwards. I would definitely recommend it as a must see.

 

Sheens86
Tastemaker

So, I have wanted to see this musical for the last 10 years, ever since being introduced to it by a former flame, I was gifted the DVD of the film with the lovely Gerard Butler as the Phantom and was instantly in love.

But what I thought was wonderful in the film was absolutely incredible on stage! The stage design, the flawless singing of all the characters and the crescendos … oh man, I loved every minute. Any ALW fans who have not yet seen this, I guarantee that it will not disappoint and if it does, I think you may have gone to the wrong musical! Will definitely be going again and yes, I was that annoying person you could see in the dim light, mouthing along to EVERY word – I’m not ashamed to admit it!

Sarah R
tastemaker

What a delight! The Phantom of the Opera is cult musical that certainly lives up to expectations.

I absolutely loved beautiful Celinde Schoenmaker as Christine, her amazing soprano and stage presence are very powerful. Chandelier sequence and dramatic music make for really entertaining suspenseful moments, the production and set are held to high standards.One of my favourite things about Phantom are probably the costumes, which are very detailed, bright and bold, so balsam for the eyes. All songs are very catchy and you will find yourself humming to them throughout the next day.

Every Londoner should go see a musical at least every few months. It makes such a nice change to the routine.


Emma

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!

Puking Pastille

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.

Adrian H
Tastemaker

The shadowy stage looming ahead with its mysterious shrouded props… the unseen orchestra beginning to tune up in the pit… excited audience taking their places as the gilded plaster muses and nymphs smiled down from the ornate ceiling, having seen it all before… it could only be the anticipation of a performance of Phantom of the Opera, the musical score to end all musical scores in my opinion, and one that continues to be hauntingly beautiful and deliciously exciting even to this day.


The set was luxuriously astonishing and menacingly Gothic by turns as we journeyed with Christine to the Phantom’s labyrinthine lair, to the luxurious and yet yawningly cavernous opera house, to the melancholy Gothic resting place of her father, and down once more into the depths of the Phantom’s lonely existence.


What surprised me most was that, as well as the amazement and chills I expected to get from hearing the songs that have stood the test of time, and the score that continues to move and excite me, I felt an overwhelming affection during the moments of awkward creaky staging – the wobbly mirror that revealed Christine’s sinister angel of music; the Phantom’s swaying appearance in the frieze as he cursed the lovers and held on for dear life (as a lump of plaster fell off and hit the stage). I've always loved the Gothic romance and melodrama of this unrequited love story and this production and this cast lived up to expectation.


Phantom is a dignified old lady who, like all grande dames, knows full well that one should have some secrets and surprises no matter one’s age. It’s no wonder that The Phantom of the Opera continues to call to the hearts and souls of audiences around the world.

Kemi O

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.

Georgie
Tastemaker

A night at the theatre is one of the ultimate luxuries in London for me. I adore everything about it, with the exception of the limited leg room and the extortionate prices for the interval ice cream! And last night, thanks to TimeOut #Tastemakers I got to see, for the third time in my life, The Phantom of the Opera. The last time I saw it was in Vegas about 10 years ago, in a modern theatre void of any history or true theatrical elegance. Her Majesty's Theatre is opulent and grand and the atmosphere in the seats as the lights begin to dip is excited and expectant of a performance that will live up to the high reputation this show has.


Because i've seen it a few times before, the music isn't foreign to me, and so I was waiting eagerly for the opening bars of Music Of The Night, All I Ask Of You and Masquerade. I adore the score and this show is a wonderful example of why Sir Lloyd-Webber is the successful man that he is, though the most credit has to be given to the superb cast with a range of voices so beautiful they give you goose bumps. Celinde Schoenmaker who takes the role of Christine was simply outstanding. I lamented briefly for the West-End career I could have had if i'd actually paid attention in my singing classes as a child as her voice sent shivers through the audience. Ben Forster's portrayal of the Phantom's was haunting and powerful while Nadim Naaman's portrayal of Raoul was heartfelt and felt genuine.


Some of the songs don't have quite the same hook as the others. There's no mistaking the powerful organ opening of the title song (on reflection, a very 80's style opening, reminiscent of something MeatLoaf might have put out) but a few of the other songs just fell flat - I couldn't even give you their names, and sadly it did make the show drag at times.


The set design was, as ever, fantastic. The chandelier is always a joy and there will never be a time I don't enjoy watching the fog creep across the stage as the candelabras ascend from the floor. This is one of those shows so classic that I will happily return again and again to watch and admire. it encapsulates everything that is wonderful with the West End.

Ros A
Tastemaker

I saw Phantom years back when I was a kid and I wasn't a fan - but I really enjoyed this performance. It's quite eerie and scary and the storyline is actually quite sincere (more so than many Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals). It tells the story of a Phantom haunting an opera theatre (no rocket science used to decipher that) who is in love with the new leading lady. It's dark, it's mysterious and it's creepy. It also has a strong antagonist who you can't bear not to pity, and a protaganist you sometimes dislike, so it's hard to know who's a goodie and who's a baddie at times. 


Most importantly though, the songs are fantastic and the set is fabulous.  'Music of the night' is a beautiful, beautiful song - and for that alone - if you've never seen this show, you must go. 

Sarah J
tastemaker

Phantom of the opera is another great musical that offers slightly cheaper on the day tickets; however be weary as these are quite far back (we got row R) were sights are restricted by the low ceiling / overhang. So certain scenes involving the chandelier for example - you don't really get the full effect. The performance is highly theatrical and spectacular but it is quite long, and at some points I found the singing just got a bit much. The actors and actresses conveyed emotions very well but I would carefully read reviews before booking tickets as I'm not sure if it's everyone's cup of tea.

Alison W

Beautiful voices, gorgeous music, visually stunning....go and see it. Really wonderful!

bowertron

A classic that never dates. I could watch Phantom over and over again. I love everything about this long running west end staple 


Kirsty E
Tastemaker

A wonderful timeless classic. Phantom of the Opera is one of my favorite musicals of all time. Fabulous sets, awesome songs, beautiful costumes and a haunting intensity which continues throughout.

Romantic but dark like a twisted fairytale, the characters are extremely well cast and maintain their roles with a sophisticated elegance. Although at times the story is a little far fetched, it is easy to get swept away into believing the impossible.

If you haven't seen this show yet, make it your next booking!

MatureLinda
tastemaker

I'm not normally a fan of the West End musical but this is a cut above.  The songs are well known and enduring and the singers do them justice.  The plot may be somewhat  incredible but it's so well acted and the sets are so good that it's difficult not to be drawn in.  Thoroughly enjoyable. 

Scott
Staff Writer

A must see for anyone who wants to go to the theatre. I'm not usually into all the lavish period drama and singing but this was amazing.


There's a reason it's been going for 30 odd years, one of the classics

Warwick W

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!


Pavlos G
Staff Writer

The Phantom of the Opera is the best musical I've been to so far. The sets for each scene were extremely good. The performances from the actors were very convincing and the soundtrack was fantastic.

hirsol

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.

Nikki

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.

Ian Vicary

Have always loved the music since it was issued in 1986 always wanted to see the show live and did so on the 25/10/13 and can say that it was excellent. The stars of the show and orchestra were excellent and brought the hold thing to life and was entertained beyond my dreams for the entire show.

miha

I seen it twice! (one was not enough). Really amazing opera! must see!!!

Alex Odlin

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!

Leah

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

Dawn Woods

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!!

succubism

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.

brian

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

Ze Eagle

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.

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