We watched the Phantom of the Opera yesterday evening and the performance was solid. The catch to starring in a big musical that everyone’s heard of many times before, is that it is difficult to produce an exceptional performance, because the standards are already high. It was the same for this sellout performance at the Esplanade.
The singer who played Christine would make a decent opera singer … but I’d prefer the Christine who sings in a clear and simple style, not the type who uses vibrato for every phrase. When I hear the latter, I tend to think the singer is playing an older character. This Christine did not distinguish herself as much more youthful and innocent than her ‘prima donna’ rival, who was also employing the same techniques for her singing, albeit in a more shrill way.
The Phantom was outstanding. He was definitely the star of the show. The stage effects were entertaining, though obviously the movie version showed many more nuances and close-ups of human emotions, and thus had a greater propensity to move viewers than the musical version.
The acoustics at the Esplanade were excellent, especially with the surround sound that made the Phantom sound like he was everywhere. It was only my ears that were buzzing at group choruses in songs like the cheerful ‘Masquerade’. Naturally at that point my eyes were wide open, hoping to see the Phantom disappear behind the crowd, which I did. But the rest of the ‘optical illusions’ were well executed, such as getting a double act to play the Phantom and Christine as they made their way to the former’s lair for the first time, appearing suddenly atop the bridge.
We had seats on the third level, but apart from the distance from the stage, we had no serious complaints about the view because we got to see the Phantom moving around on Level 4, with the chandelier swinging down onto the stage a few times.
The musical began with an old Raoul bidding for the musical monkey, then having a flashback that led into the rest of the musical. However it ended with young Raoul and Christine leaving the Phantom’s lair by gondola. So some fans may find it a bit abrupt. But this is a live performance and I guess returning to the present (with old Raoul) isn’t really a vital scene.
As far as I could see, there were no standing ovations but some cheers from a particular group of girls in the audience. I wasn’t moved to tears because I’ve seen this a couple times before, along with the movie. But I can understand how this show has managed to sell out every night in Singapore (over 100,000 tickets sold, according to Sistic), with an extended performance period.
Technorati tags: Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, musicals, Esplanade