Friday, 14 December 2012
'The Phantom Of The Opera', Her Majesty's Theatre, London, 13/12/2012
I last saw the 'Brilliant Original' in 2006 where, whilst it still worked as an enjoyable piece of theatre, it was beginning to suffer from fatigue. Many cast members at the time had been with the show for several years and, to my eye, were simply 'going through the motions' which is a big no no!
This could not be further from the truth of this current company headed by Marcus Lovett who imbue the show with so much fresh energy and verve that it truly felt as though the show had only recently opened.
For the first time in all of the times I've seen the show in London I sat in the stalls which allowed me to see every line on each person's face. (I was also surprised at how small the stall section was). From the stalls the whole Chandelier sequence was much more exciting and involving.
The show still runs like a well oiled machine, hell even more so since last I saw it. The lighting and sound are still second to none whilst the visual effects still have the wow factor.
The entire cast was top notch with the ensemble in fine form and voice.
Lara Martins as 'Carlotta' was perfectly vile and diva-ish and in fine(is that word appropriate here?) voice as the schemings soprano hell-bent on keeping her status. Jeremy Secomb is perhaps the most realistic 'Piangi' I've seen. His pairing with Martins works, he has a lovely voice, but is also built like a strapping operatic tenor rather than the clownish versions of 'Piangi' I've seen before.
Barry James and Gareth Snook as the 'Managers' (who they also played in the 25th anniversary concert) were humorous and fresh - not simply sticking to how they played the roles previously.
Alternate 'christine' Anna O'Byrne, who features as 'Christine' in the DVD of the Melbourne production of 'Love Never Dies' was revelatory. Her vocals at times echoed those of Sierra Boggess but were distinctly her own. Her portrayal of the fear, confusion and inner turmoil at the struggle she endures whilst trying to fight for her freedom from both the shadow of her father and 'The Phantom' was tremendous, and she played the arc story arc perfectly; going from naive girl to confident woman via the ordeal in the graveyard where she truly begins to regain control of herself. During 'The Point Of No Return' that control is assured so that when, in the final lair scene, she is faced with the choice of 'The Phantom' or her true love 'Raoul' it is believable why she chooses the former. It is also worth noting that Hers is one of the few portrayals that makes me believe that she utterly wants to be with Raoul whilst feeling pity (and really little else) for 'The Phantom'. This is partly due to Simon Thomas who plays Raoul. He is no overly confident cad but rather someone who cares much for his former childhood playmate. Thomas is dashing in the role and brings the helps balance out the love triangle perfectly.
As 'The Phantom' Marcus Lovett is a wonder. His voice of hard thunder, lightning and soft silk and candlelight is not typical Phantom fare yet echoes the voice described in the original novel. In fact, much of his portrayal echoes the novel. He doesn't merely echo anyone else who has filled the shoes of 'Erik' but plays Leroux's 'Phantom'. Here is a 'Phantom' who, at times, one thought was capable of utterly destroying that which he loved most - namely the Opera House and 'Christine'. Yet he also showed the tender side that only 'Christine' was able to produce', showing us the adolescence that never was; where a normal man would learn social skills, 'Erik' clearly has not and has thus remained much a spoiled, temperamental child. The final lair scene is one of the most thrilling I've seen, filled with danger, passion and clarity. Lovett's demoniacally passionate 'Phantom' dragging his obsession around left 'Erik' quite possibly dying of the heart attack that claims him in the novel. Lovett's presence, power and inherent awesomeness as 'Erik' is sublime and I may have a new favourite 'Phantom'. He slowly stalks at one point and then rushes about maniacally the next. His 'Phantom' is truly full of the unexpected.
I dearly hope I can see him in the role again before the end of his run.
I urge you to go NOW to Her Majesty's to catch this amazing performance in this amazing show. Believe me when I say words can't really describe how wondrous Lovett is.