Destinations Magazine

Review: Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary Performance

By Antipodeanblog @antipodeanblog

Review: Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary Performance
After 25 years running in London at Her Majesty’s theatre, The Phantom of the Opera breaks its own record for longest running musical with every performance.
The programme informs me that tonight, the Phantom has instructed his managers (Messrs Lloyd Webber and Mackintosh) to hold a celebration of reaching a quarter century “lest a reversal in their fortunes should occur”. 

Review: Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary Performance

The Royal Albert Hall after the show

And where else to put on the three celebratory performances but the Royal Albert Hall, perhaps London’s closest equivalent in grandeur to the Paris Opera House itself. Apparently this building even has a Phantom of its own.
Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo take on the demanding lead roles with passion and strength. It seems fitting to see these deserving actors come full circle, after they originated the older versions of Christine and the Phantom in the missable sequel, Love Never Dies.
The chorus are enormous and impressive. Masquerade was particularly mesmerising. I'm told there were 300 people on stage (including the orchestra) and even the private boxes to the side of the stage contained 'patrons' in full costume which add a further dimension to the already immersive experience.
The staging has been redesigned to work with the unique demands of the Royal Albert Hall. One disappointment is that the chandelier doesn’t fall, however it's forgiveable considering how ambitious a project it was to stage the entire theatrical production in this concert venue, rather than just a concert version.
The Set Designer has made up for the reduction in set pieces with large LCD panels and an enormous gauze with projections. At times it's distracting, but overall I felt it was very well rendered and did an impressive job of standing in for some  pieces I would have thought irreplacable, such as the curtain, the mirror, and the graveyard. A few scenes were even enhanced by it - particularly the "All I Ask of You" scene on the roof of the Opera House, which was given a tremendous energy from the projection of the actual view they would have seen behind them, complete with a picturesque but appropriately understated sunset that melted away as the song continued.
After the curtain call, I gripped Paul's hand and refused to stand up, saying "I want Andrew Lloyd Webber to come out and do a speech!"
I wasn't disappointed.
Moments later, the music crescendoed and the creator himself walked on stage. He welcomed the original creative team and producers (including Cameron Mackintosh) to the stage, followed by the entire original London cast (with the exception of three who have passed away).
Then a microphone appeared, smoke began to billow, and Sarah Brightman walked on stage to sing the title song. She was supported by not one, but five Phantoms: Colm Wilkinson, John Owen-Jones, Anthony Warlow, Peter Jöback and Ramin Karimloo. It sent chills down my spine.

Review: Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary Performance

Sarah Brightman and the five Phantoms

Afterwards, the Phantoms remained on stage and performed the Music of the Night together. Both casts joined in the final few lines. 
Review: Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary Performance

The finale alone was worth the ticket price. Phantom is not my favorite show in the world, but even I was completely overwhelmed by the opportunity to see the original cast take to the stage together once again.
A thoroughly successful and highly professional production. Mr Lloyd Webber let slip that tonight was the first time the cast had ever run Act II. You wouldn't have known it.

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