Reviewed: Phantom of the Opera

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s world-famous musical electrifies at Dubai Opera

Reviewed: Phantom of the Opera

Thirty three years ago, on October 9, 1986 Phantom of the Opera made its debut in London’s West End, and this month the famous Phantom takes to the stage in the Middle East for the first time, at Dubai Opera.

Fans of the show will have been at the edge of their seats since it was announced in December last year, excited about the arrival of one of the world’s best-loved musicals to the city.

And they won’t be left disappointed. The show is undoubtedly a huge success, as you’d hope and expect for one that’s in the midst of a world tour.

It’s slick, it’s professional and it’s utterly engaging. The music, costumes and set is as impressive as you’d hope – with the giant crystal chandelier a formidable centrepiece.

As massive Phantom of the Opera fans ourselves – having seen it on both London’s West End and New York’s Broadway – we’re among those eagerly awaiting the day the Phantom sings to Dubai.

The theatre is packed out, with a very glamorous crowd – the Phantom would be impressed – and there’s an air of anticipation around.

Set in the Paris Opera House, the tale is based on the classic novel Le Fantôme de L’Opéra by Gaston Leroux, starring a disfigured mysterious character who falls in love with one of the performers, Christine Daaé.

The set itself is elaborate and just as imposing now as when it was first revealed more than three decades ago. The massive staircase, which plays host to the famous Masquerade piece, is one of the highlights, as is the boat scene where the Phantom steers Christine through clouds of dry ice to his underground lair. Though happily for the crew, technology has improved from the days in London when the rickety boat was on the same frequency as the local fire brigade, meaning it would idly sail off stage whenever an emergency call-out went by.

Australian actress Claire Lyon puts in a stellar performance of the innocent young star Christine, with her voice never wavering and emotion always simmering at the surface.

South African performer Jonathan Roxmouth conveys the passion and the turmoil of the troubled Phantom superbly. Stepping into the shoes of performers including Michael Crawford, Colm Wilkinson and Ramin Karimloo is no easy task, and while his vocals might not be as powerful as some of his predecessors, his performance and passion means he holds his own in a role he clearly relishes and adores.

Matt Leisy, who plays Raoul, the Phantom’s rival for Christine’s love, shines too.

In fact, the cast should all be applauded (as they were, with a standing ovation). Comedy comes from Monsieurs Firman and Andre (James Borthwick and Curt Olds respectively) causing many a chuckle from the crowd, as well as Carlotta (Beverly Chiat) who also impresses with her operatic numbers.

Lloyd Webber’s score soars from the talented orchestral pit, and is sure to raise a sea of goosebumps.

Classic after classic rolls out, from the passionate Phantom of the Opera signature to the angst-ridden All I Ask of You to the mournful Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again.

Lyon and Roxmouth have performed together in the past, several years back on tour, but have rejoined in Dubai to reprise their roles for the show, and the pairing really works. The chemistry between the Phantom and Christine is palpable, and nothing feels forced.

More than 145 million people in 150 cities across 30 countries have seen the show, so don’t miss it in Dubai.

Phantom of the Opera runs at Dubai Opera until Saturday November 9, with tickets starting at Dhs250. For all the information on the show click here.

For fast Phantom facts (did you know the Phantom’s make up takes two and a half hours to apply?) click here.
From Dhs250. Until Nov 9. Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, www.dubaiopera.com.

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