It is quite possibly the most successful musical of all time. Phantom of the Opera has been seen by over 130 million people worldwide and won over 50 major theatre awards. The touring version of this acclaimed musical includes 130 cast, crew and orchestra members and more than 230 costumes (it takes them 22 containers to transport all the props and costumes!)
With so much expectation resting on its shoulders – plus the fact I grew up listening to the original cast recordings of Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman – it’s perhaps unsurprising I felt a tad let down at yesterday’s gala premiere. The three main leads – Brad Little (The Phantom), Claire Lyon (Christine Daaé) and Anthony Downing (Raoul) – were commendable in their singing roles, especially Lyon who managed to raise goosebumps each time she hit those high notes.
However, the main thing that caused me to feel disconnected from the production was Lyon’s and Downing’s acting. In the story, Raoul and Christine are supposed to be madly in love, but the intensity of their ardour was not fully translated to the audience. In fact, it felt a little contrived. The unconvincing passion between Raoul and Christine aside, the Phantom hit all the right notes with his palpable longing and sadness. Here is a horrifically disfigured man treated as a monster for most of his life; all he’s known is loneliness and rejection. As he crawls piteously towards Christine in one scene, I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. And when he pleaded with her to love him in the reprise of All I Ask of You, it was all I could do to keep my tears from spilling over. Despite his almost savage-like nature, I think at some level, most of us can identify with the Phantom’s desperate feelings of loneliness.
During the intermission, I bumped into a friend and he brought up an interesting point. When Phantom of the Opera plays in other countries like London or Australia, it’s usually held in smaller, more intimate settings, usually a Gothic-style theatre to fit the Gothic-themed production. That alone engages the audience on a deeper level because it feels as if they are one of the audience members in the Opera Populaire [where the story is set.] As my friend mused, “The Sands theatre is great, but watching the Phantom here just feels like I’m watching a concert.”
I guess what this tells you is, if you’re looking to relive the music of this incredible masterpiece, you’ll love this season’s production. But if it’s great acting you’re looking for, you may just want to give it a miss.
Phantom of the Opera is currently playing from now till 25 August at MasterCard Theatres – Grand Theatre. Get your tickets at Sistic now.
Note: The author was invited to the gala premiere of Phantom of the Opera by Base Entertainment. All opinions are the author’s own.
About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.
[If you like this story, you might also like]