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Art

Why Phantom of the Opera Prevails

Even after 31 years of performances this show is still an engaging and alluring piece of art

The Phantom of the Opera debuted at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London in 1986 and has been performing for audiences ever since. Not only at its London home, but across thirty-five different countries and to over one-hundred and forty million patrons. It is the West End’s second longest-running musical and shows no sign of giving that title away any time soon.

Gaston Leroux wrote the original novel which was later developed for stage by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe. The story follows a young girl named Christine Daaé who is a member of the ballet chorus at the Opera Populaire. She is sought out by managers at the theatre to star in the production when their leading lady quits due to strange happenings in the theatre. After her starring performance, it is revealed that she is the prodigy of the ‘Opera Ghost’, a masked murderer living in the vaults of the theatre. After a whirlwind engagement, a new musical and more threats come to light, Christine needs to set herself free from the man who hides in the shadows and yet has a hold over her. But will she go as far as to ensure his death? Or does she care for him more than she lets on?

Usually, for performances like this, I book a while in advance to get the best seats at the best price, however, this was more last minute. I managed to book two seats that were ‘restricted view’ in the stalls, row Q. These were available on lastminute.com for £28 (plus levy) and although labelled as ‘restricted view’, this wasn’t much of a hindrance as the pillar that blocked a small portion of the stage was easy to move around, and so the performance was still a fantastic watch.

“With the beautiful sets and costumes continuing throughout the performance, it is no wonder this show is still a magnificent hit”. 

On 14th February’s evening performance, Daaé was executed perfectly by Kelly Mathieson. She portrayed her innocence  to a point where the audience would sympathise and feel her pain, but also kept the characters’ independence and identity. The chemistry between Daaé and the Phantom, played by Ben Lewis, was strong and heated during duets, especially in The Point of No Return.

Credit: London Theatre Direct

Lewis was first noticed by Lloyd Webber when cast as the Phantom in the Australian production of Love Never Dies, the sequel to Phantom of the Opera, in 2012. His dulcet tones leave you wanting more, and the strength and power in his vocals display the anger and pain that his character is going through- a near perfect performance.

But it is Mathieson that steals the show, particularly during her rendition of Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again in Act Two. Her portrayal is engaging and alluring, the strength that she has shown in her character so far breaking away, leaving her raw for the audience to witness. This displayed her exceptional vocals, without flaw, and after having seen the show eleven times, was the best interpretation that I have witnessed.

Apart from the cast changing every year or so, not much else differs from the original production. The chandelier crash is still an audience favourite at the end of Act One, and with the beautiful sets and costumes continuing throughout the performance, it is no wonder this show is still a magnificent hit.

The Phantom of the Opera runs every day from Monday to Saturday at 7:30pm with two matinee performances on Thursday and Saturday at 2:30pm. Mathieson’s alternate, Amy Manford, plays Daaé on Monday and Friday performances. Tickets can be found directly through the website or partner websites. Alternately, day seats are offered on a first come first serve basis in person at the theatre at 10am for Thursday matinees only.

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