Updated: Apr 29, 2020
I have a confession.
Up until this point, I have been a fraud.
It’s true, I mean can you really call yourself a theatre fan if you’ve not seen The Phantom of the Opera?!
This is a long running joke between my boyfriend (who has seen and loved POTO for many years) and me, who until earlier this week had not seen a single second of the production.
With Andrew Lloyd Webber’s productions gracing our Youtube subscription boxes every week I thought now was a better time than any to educate myself on my boyfriend’s favourite musical.
If I’m honest, I’m not the biggest ALW fan, so I had not gone out of my way to buy a ticket or familiarise myself with the iconic show tunes. I went in blind, and a little unengaged, but nonetheless open-minded.
I settled down to watch the livestream (which I think has now disappeared, sorry!) and immediately discarded my phone and any other distractions. The current global pandemic melted away and I was able to get lost in theatre again, something I miss most about “normal life”.
I don’t normally get as engrossed in theatre via a screen, as expected, but this was different. Maybe it was the way it was filmed, the incredibly powerful opening, the stunning visual elements or a combination of all three.
When I’ve heard the music isolated from the production I’ve always found it a little bit naff, but in context it has such power and drama behind it and it doesn’t seem as tacky as I originally thought.
Ramin Karimloo is the vulnerable Phantom behind the iconic mask who falls deeply in love with Christine played by the stunning Sierra Boggess. They make a gorgeous pair with vocals to die for, and are supported by an outstanding large cast who are slick and professional.
The cast’s sound fills the Royal Albert Hall which is a venue that would probably swamp a lot of productions, but POTO’s grand visuals, sound and movement brings the auditorium to life. The costumes deserve a separate mention, with colours, textures, layers that have had so much thought and work poured into them. Each piece is as vibrant and eye-catching as the next.
The magic doesn’t fade throughout, from the opening scenes with the chandelier hanging in the middle of the hall, to the boat floating across the stage and ending with the magical disappearance of the Phantom which has me totally baffled. These techniques paired with an imposing set that stretches to every inch of the stage creates the perfect immersive theatre experience.
With this being the 25th anniversary production, there was quite the encore that was worth staying till the end for. No spoilers here but they really have brought the whole gang back together to celebrate a monumental production on a momentous anniversary.