The Phantom of the Opera

Disclaimer: This is my fifth stage performance of the musical; I've watched the movie once in the cinema and at least twice more on TV and the Anniversary Concert@The Royal Albert Hall. 
The kitsch-ness of Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic, and undoubtedly most well-known/sung musical, is undeniable but it is precisely this cliché that endears it to the public. The tunes have ear-wormed their way into the general public conscious and many repeat viewers come in to be enthralled by the spectacle and the (overly) dramatic show tunes. Unfortunately, Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford are still, in my mind, the benchmarks for all future Christines and Phantoms, and the poor acoustics of our theatre did nothing to help the cast and showcase their pipes. In addition, the sound engineer may not have done a good job in tuning for the venue, and the first act there were too much sound discrepancies lacking in volume, bass and vibrato, which thankfully was rectified in the second act. Although this could also be due to the smallish orchestra and chorus of the production. The best singer of the lot was Brad Little as the Phantom, his voice had the range and depth to carry off the richness of his solos and signature tunes. Claire Lyon as Christine started off underwhelming especially her first solo transforming from chorus girl to diva. Thereafter, she had some pitch issues in the first act but finally "opened up" gloriously by the time we reached "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again". Raoul was, gasp!, "normal" and unspectacular. Somehow, the lovers did not exude much chemistry which made their love duet "All I Ask of You" rather insipid if it wasn't for the familiar score. The set was gorgeous with impressive costumes and stage design, however the directing was perhaps the poorest dimension of the whole production with too many magicky gimmicks and poor acting from the leads; the supporting cast, on the other hand, provided great comedic relief. In particular, and the most erogenous, was the decision for the Phantom to behave like an outright psycho, channeling more Robert Carlyle's Rumplestiltskin (Once Upon A Time) than Mads Mikkelson's Hannibal Lecter (Hannibal), Zachary Quinto's Scarface (AHS: Asylum) or even Gerard Butler's movie phantom. That acting/directing choice made the character too unsympathetic to the audience which resulted in the dilution of that connection which would make us root for him to get the girl; consequently, the ending lacked the pathos and left the audience feeling indifferent. In addition, the "Point of No Return" was poorly directed with the actors unable to convey the trepidation, the double cons and entendres of the lyrics. Oh, and they massacred my favourite song, "Masquerade"...


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