I didn’t go to The Phantom of The Opera’s 25th Anniversary celebration as it just didn’t fit in at the time. I’m thrilled they released it on DVD (of course they would!) as now I can see what nearly every theatrical minded friends of mine have been raving about!
Phantom, like Les Miserables has recently celebrated 25 successful years. But what makes Phantom so successful? For me it would be the fantastic score and lyrics. I have also seen fantastic performers each time I have visited from Ramin Karimloo (who plays Phantom in this celebration) John-Owen Jones, Katie Hall, Sofia Escobar and Gina Beck.
Cameron Mackintosh produced the celebratory performance for Phantom, with full staging at the Royal Albert Hall which was staged as the Opera Populaire for three productions over the anniversary weekend. The show was staged very similar to the current production at Her Majestys bar the projections/pyrotechnics and some other aspects. Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess reunite from Love Never Dies to play Phantom and Christine. It’s nice to see them together in this DVD as I missed both of them when they were in Love Never Dies, although I don’t regret seeing Tam Mutu and Celia Graham!
The DVD starts with a trailer for Love Never Dies, the DVD of the Australian production. I’m somewhat interested in seeing what they’ve done with the show since it closed in London.
Ramin Karimloo is a brilliant Phantom. I find his interpretation very touching at points. He portrays the emotions Phantom goes through so well. He’s powerful, enticing, intriguing and at times heart-breaking. Sierra Boggess plays a young, somewhat naive Christine. I thought her Think of Me was stunning. She was endearing and her voice sounded very pure. Sierra’s Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again was very emotional and powerful and again beautifully performed. The title song performed by Ramin and Sierra was brilliant, intriguing and beautiful with great chemistry between the two. I found his Music Of The Night much more tender than when I had seen him in the West End. It didn’t seem as powerful vocally, although I thought the sincerity more than made up for it.
I have to admit, I had a slight problem with Hadley Fraser as Raoul. I thought he sang well and was energetic, but I didn’t think that his Raoul was true to the Raoul in the West End production. Hadley’s Raoul came across quite arrogant and aggressive. It made me wonder whether he was directed to act that way in order for Love Never Dies to make more sense. All I Ask Of You was sung well, but again in parts it felt a bit aggressive. I didn’t feel the connection between Christine and Raoul. When it came to the decision Christine had to make even more than usual I was willing her to go for Phantom.
I thought Wendy Ferguson did a wonderful job as Carlotta. It was originally supposed to be Kiera Duffy but Wendy stepped in as Kiera was unwell. Wendy was particularly strong in Prima Donna working well with Barry James and Gareth Snook who played Firmin and Andre, the Opera Populaire’s owners. Barry James and Gareth Snook were great support. I thought Wynne Evans did an okay job as Piangi.
Liz Robertson did a fantastic job as Madame Giry. She portrayed a confident and assured woman yet a woman who was frightened of what the Phantom was capable of. Daisy Maywood as Meg had a strong voice and performed well. I just find Meg such a nothing part!
The ensemble were fantastic adding some beautiful vocals and dancing. I do think that some of the intimacy of Phantom was lost on that huge stage and with the projections. Perhaps it felt a bit different actually being there. However, there’s no getting away from it- it was a wonderful celebration. I liked the Four Phantoms as an encore (John Owen-Jones, Peter Joback, Anthony Warlow and Colm Wilkinson). I have to say I preferred their Music Of The Night to The Phantom Of The Opera. I respect Sarah Brightman is the original Christine, but I didn’t warm to her at all.
I think the Phantom Of The Opera at The Royal Albert Hall is well worth checking out, especially if you’re a fan of Phantom. It’s nice to see it get celebrated in style.