Sunday, January 29, 2012

'The Phantom of the Opera' - My #1 favourite

It's about time I posted something about The Phantom of the Opera as it is my favourite musical of all time. Although it was not the first musical I saw, it was the first one that I really fell in love with. The title song left a lasting impression on me when I first heard it. That particular version is still my favourite (original London cast recording with Michael Crawford as the Phantom and Sarah Brightman as Christine):

I saw The Phantom of the Opera in the West End in October 2008 (Ramin Karimloo in the title role, Gina Beck as Christine, Simon Bailey as Raoul) after having listened to the soundtrack and having read Gaston Leroux's book on which the musical is based (that was some tough reading - somehow the text felt very heavy). I have to admit that I failed to fully appreciate the show at the time. I did not know very much about musical theatre or singing then (even so I could tell that the cast sang very well but I could not pick out any details). I remember thinking the theatre was not as big and impressive as I expected it to be. And I got dead-scared by the chandelier coming down! We had good seats in the stalls (a couple of rows from the front) and I remember pointing out the chandelier to my mum before the start of the performance and going "But that's not gonna fall down, that'd be impossible." How wrong I was, clearly underestimated the things West End theatre is capable of.

The Phantom of the Opera is the second longest running musical in the West End (second only to Les Mis) and the longest running on Broadway so there really must be something special about it. I suppose it is a perfect love story with gorgeous music. The Phantom is such an enigmatic and charismatic character in a dark kind of way that, as a member of the audience, you are drawn to him and of course one is eager to know whether Christine chooses Raoul or the Phantom in the end (even if I know how the story ends, it does not prevent me from thinking that maybe this time the outcome will be different).

I am planning on booking tickets to see the show again soon. Hopefully I'll manage to fit a trip to see the UK touring production into my schedule as well.

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