5 March 2020

Phantom of the Opera UK Tour Review

Cameron Mackintosh and The Really Useful Group produce a new UK tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber's smash-hit musical, The Phantom of the Opera. The new tour opens at Curve in Leicester.

The show's design is reimagined for the touring production allowing for tweaks and slightly different staging to the London production. Matt Kinley has created a faithful adaptation of the original design of the late Maria Bjornson. The show is a lavish spectacle right for the get-go. Throughout there are numerous scene changes with grandiose lavish sets and costumes, from the rising of the curtains during the Overture, The Phantom of the Opera sequence as we enter the Phantom's lair or Masquerade. No expense is spared, and it's a real feast for the eyes and the mind. Even the interval safety curtain is gorgeous!

Holly-Anne Hull (Christine) and Killian Donnelly (Phantom). Photo  by Johan Persson

One of the stars of the design continues to be the Paris Opera House chandelier. From the thrilling reveal and pyrotechnic re-lighting as the orchestra plays the Overture to the dramatic fall just above the heads of the front rows at the end of the first act as the Phantom follows through on a disaster beyond imagination. Both moments are unforgettable.

Seth Sklar-Heyn direction is a fitting tribute to the late original director, Hal Prince, and his creative team is first-rate. Andrew Bridge's lighting enhances the atmosphere beautifully as done strong sound design by Mick Potter. Chrissie Cartwright has adapted the late great Gillian Lynne's choreography splendidly, especially the ballet girls who dance with such wonderful skill.

The Music of the Night by Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe is one of the major reasons this show continues to be loved by audiences. A mixture of between opera and musical theatre, the score is beautiful. Matthew J Loughran's musical direction allows the orchestra to flourish and they sound fantastic. Stay for the entire Playoff as it's well worth hearing these skilled musicians at work.

Donning the iconic mask is Killian Donnelly. One of the finest male theatrical performers around, Killian once again proves he's a master for the craft. He powerfully looms over the show like a dark shadow. He's a believable tortured monster but also adds in the right amount of emotion, especially in the final sequences. His vocal range matches the score perfectly. Huge credit too for Bob Saunders from Applied Arts who creating the masks and effective prosthetics.

Holly-Anne Hull is strong as Christine Daae, she brings great fragility and heart and a stunning vocal range. "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" is a showstopping number that allows Holly-Anne's full vocal range to excel. The role of Raoul can be a thankless task but Rhys Whitfield is a strong as they come. He makes the audience really emphasise with the character, who after all is at risk of losing the love of his life to this mysterious Phantom. Together Holly-Anne and Rhys match each other and make a wonderful believable couple.

Masquerade. Photo by Johan Persson

Saori Oda's Carlotta is an outstanding soprano, her powerful vocals and diva attitude make her a joy to watch. Greg Castiglioni's Piangi gets a bit lost but ultimately he carries the character off well, especially as a bit of a bumbling idiot. Much of the lightness to the piece is provided by the two theatre managers, Monsieur Firman and Monsieur Andre, here both Matt Harrop and Adam Linstead are fantastic. They bounce off each other really well. Francesca Ellis greatly encompasses Madame Giry creating a strict matron like figure with an air of mystery about her and the relationship between the Phantom.

It requires a large company to effectively stage a show like Phantom and the assembled company here is as strong as any you'll see. The number, Masquerade, is proof of when a company come together what power they have. It's a breathtaking moment in a show full of memorable sequences.

On this evidence, it's not hard to see the enduring longevity of Phantom. This production is magical, you won't have a more spectacular night like this at the theatre anywhere else. Outstanding.

Rating: ★★★★★ - a dazzling theatrical spectacle. Long may the Phantom continue to reign.

The Phantom of the Opera continues at Curve until Saturday 21st March, visit https://www.curveonline.co.uk/ to book. It then extensively tours the UK and Ireland visit https://uktour.thephantomoftheopera.com/ for more details.

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