Having won more than 70 major theatre awards throughout its run, Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s The Phantom of The Opera is one of the most successful musicals in entertainment history. Beyond its songs for musical lovers all around the world, its iconography and costumes have become part of mainstream culture as well. The image of a white half-faced mask accompanied by a rose against a black background has been around for decades past and more to come. You might even chance upon a Phantom or two at Halloween parties.
The Phantom of The Opera tells a tale of jealousy, madness and a passionate obsession disfigured musical genius, The Phantom, has for Christine. Completely taken by her talents and beauty of the young soprano, he lures her as his protégé to spend as much time with her as possible. However, Christine’s love for childhood friend Raoul reignites as he reappears in her life – unknown to The Phantom who is blinded by love.
This love triangle eventually causes the Paris Opera House to experience one of the most dramatic turn of events.
The set pieces are grand, truly bringing Broadway to Singapore. Greeted by bronze statues of winged beings flanking the stage, framing the entire show, it invites the audience to suspend their imaginations. Welcome to Paris, truly.
No expense is spared to fulfilling the visual experience of the Paris Opera House of that era – red sweeping curtains, a golden organ shimmering under candlelight and of course, the haunted chandelier that hangs above the audience. It is a wonder and possibly mystery how so many set pieces can fit backstage and stay hidden until their turn to shine on stage.
Personally, I was most amazed by the classic scene of The Phantom and Christine rowing on a Venetian gondola under the bridge. Their figures lit only by flickering light, while they come closer and closer to the audience. At that point in time, the stage transformed itself into a body of water that seemed to last a lifetime.
For such a classic, it goes without saying that the live musicians are brilliant – they followed the vocals with such precision. No rhythm was lost and all notes were reached seemingly effortlessly. Together with the singing of the cast and ensemble, the music filled the space from stalls to circles, sound resonating in all corners of the Sands Theatre. The music itself made the show worthy of a live experience, instead of staying home and listening to the official soundtrack off Spotify.
Meghan Picerno (Christine Daaé) and Matt Leisy (Raoul de Chagny) pulled at heartstrings with their rendition of All I Ask of You, while they look into each other’s eyes and chose to believe in their love. Their voices soared with joy, performing the song with chemistry and ease.
However, it is Jonathan Roxmouth as The Phantom that stole the show with his embodiment of character. His emotional depth and show of the genius’ stubborn holding onto hope and the eventual letting go broke my heart. Although his love was shown in ways of abuse and misunderstanding, his vulnerability in isolation pierced through the audience through his voice and the broken figure on his dusty throne.
Though the songs and music were always performed with gusto and stage presence, the ensemble pieces seemed messy – footings missed and lyrics difficult to catch as the voices come together with harshness. Perhaps it was mere nervousness of the gala night, but it got distracting towards the end of the performance. Frustrating, even, when songs got swallowed up one after another.
But I will say that for the few classics done well, The Phantom of The Opera is still definitely worth watching especially if you have never experienced it live. Go live your best Parisian dream and witness a most welcomed haunting.
The Phantom of The Opera
Date: 24th April – 8th June 2019
Venue: Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands
Time: Tuesday – Saturday, 8pm / Saturday, 2pm / Sunday, 1pm & 6pm
Admission: $75 (Concessions available. Get your tickets here.)
Photographs are courtesy of Base Entertainment Asia.