Last week saw me missioning across town in the pouring rain, at an average of about 34km/hr on the highway, to get across to The Teatro at Montecasino to watch The Phantom of The Opera. Having seen the London production in 2007, I was very keen to see how the local production would measure up.
The relatively young local talent were a big draw card, and the spectacular set, sparkling costumes and ever wonderful soundtrack were certainly not deterrents. I took my mum to see the show and found myself waiting with trepidation as we sat, waiting for it to begin, for fear that the performance may not measure up to the expectations I must have set with my years of raving about the show.
As the curtain rose on Act One, though, I couldn’t help but smile as the familiar scene unfolded right in front of my eyes. I couldn’t stop myself from humming along, very quietly, to the songs – who doesn’t get “The Phaaaaaantom of the operaaaaaaa is heeeeeeeere…” stuck in their heads after hearing it?
Christine is singing Beyond the Lake
The Phantom, performed by Jonathan Roxmouth, was powerful yet vulnerable, while Christine was performed by Robin Botha the night I saw the show had a spectacular voice, and a nice chemistry with Raoul (Anthony Downing). I think my favourite scene is the one between Raoul and Christine on the roof of the opera house where they perform “All I ask of You”. Perhaps because it’s the calm before the storm, or perhap simply because I love that song.
I thoroughly enjoyed Messieurs Firmin and Andre (James Borthwick and Jason Ralph), the new managers of the opera house who inherit, with their purchase, the drama of The Phantom, and Notes in The Managers’ Office, is another wonderful scene. The two men give a light-hearted touch to the otherwise serious message in the ‘notes’. They perform this role of comic relief throughout the show, and they do it exceptionally well. I also have to give a special mention to Cat Lane, who plays the role of Meg Giry, Christine’s closest (only?) friend. When she was on stage, her performance captivated me – she was fantastic!
The production did not disappoint one iota. My feet tapped throughout the performance and it was all I could do not to physically throw myself into the performance, wishing desperately that I could get up their and dance with them! As many people have mentioned to me, the people behind the scenes most certainly do not get enough credit. All those people who swoop in and remove parts of the set, organise the back drops correctly, change the costumes of the performers, apply and reapply make up, wigs, microphones and so on – props to you (pun intended) as the show was so smooth it was easy to forget about all that process going on behind the scenes – just as it should be.
For a bit of background, the PhantomSA website has pages of fascinating facts, including:
- There are 130 cast, crew and orchestra members directly involved in each performance.
- Each performance has 230 costumes, 14 dressers, 120 automated cues, 22 scene changes, 281 candles and uses 250 kg of dry ice and 10 fog and smoke machines.
They certainly know how to put that dry ice to great use!
If you haven’t ever seen the show – do it. Now! And even if you have, it is a classic, and so beautifully produced, that it is well worth another visit!
(You’re humming Phantom of the Opera now, aren’t you?)
Quick disclaimer – we were hosted by Southern Sun, who is a client, but even if we hadn’t been I would’ve taken my mum to see it!