The Phantom of the Opera is here … inside my mind
Andrew Lloyd Webber
If you love the musical theatre, you will love the work of Andrew Lloyd Webber. I think it would surprise you to know just how much of his music you are familiar with, even if you haven’t seen the musical in question. His music has this uncanny knack of getting inside your head … inside your mind.
Unquestionably one of the most well known, let alone longest running of all his musical productions is the Phantom of the Opera and I had the pleasure of seeing the show yesterday at Her Majesty’s Theatre, The Haymarket, London.
The story itself was published in 1911, Le Fantome de L‘Opera and the author was Gaston Leroux. Leroux had written the story after visiting the Paris Opera House where he had observed that there was a subterranean lake under the building which could be seen through iron grilles in the floor. Leroux had also heard the unfortunate story that one of the chandelier’s counterweights had fallen into the audience during a performance.
73 years later, Andrew Lloyd Webber read a review of a stage production of Phantom of the Opera at the Theatre Royal, Stratford. After reading the review he decided to call the musical aficionado Cameron Mackintosh with the seed of an idea of turning it into a new musical.
The Phantom of the Opera has reigned at Her Majesty’s Theatre for a whopping 28 years with Sarah Brightman as Christine and Michael Crawford as The Phantom when it premiered in 1986. An unlikely tale of a disfigured composer who terrorises the Paris Opera in an attempt to make his protégé a leading lady, seems to have captured the hearts of theatre goers worldwide and is recorded as being most successful entertainment project in history.
We were expecting to see Geronimo Rauch as the Phantom, but it was announced just before curtain up that the part would be played by Jeremy Secomb.
Frustratingly, there was no mention of him in the programme. Having scrabbled around the Internet we found that he had played the part of Ubaldo Piangi in the Phantom and had also ‘filled in’ for Geronimo Rauch as The Phantom the past. Not only that but he is about to take on the roll of Sweeney Todd from 12th March 2015. He was absolutely brilliant. So a little bit more credit for his performances as the Phantom should be recorded for posterity and be more readily available for all to see on the Internet. Starting here.
Emmi Christensson, who was born in Sweden, played the part of Christine and she too was amazing.
It was a tremendous performance all round.
This is a passionate story of unrequited and misguided love turned into a musical by the genius that is Andrew Lloyd Webber which, without a shadow of a doubt, has stood the test of time. Visually it is a joy to watch and the music is in a class of its own.
The entire cast, fabulous set – even the chandelier that comes crashing down above the stalls – and superb orchestra were all cooked to perfection yesterday. So much so, that the production should keep going for another 28 years. A faultless performance, the memories of which will stay inside mind musically, lyrically and visually for a very long time.
It is estimated that Phantom has been seen by more than 140 million people, and the total worldwide gross is now in excess of $6 billion.