Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s haunting tale is one that doesn’t need much introduction; it’s also the longest-running show on Broadway, having accrued more than 70 major theatre awards, including seven Tony Awards and four Olivier Awards, including one for Best Musical.
The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of a horribly disfigured musical genius that haunts the hallways of the Paris Opera House, terrorizing its inhabitants, but eventually falls for a young chorus girl, Christine Daaé, and decides to take her under his wing.
An opulent labour of love locally presented by BASE Entertainment Asia, the ingenious use of space, light and sound transforms the Sands Theatre into an immersive experience. The play opens at an auction sometime in the distant future, in which a chandelier is seen broken and disassembled. As a means to an introduction to the past, it is resurrected in a flurry of light and sound, rising high above a mesmerized audience.
Even if you aren’t entirely clear on the plot, the titular role of the Phantom and his trademark mask is something many can recognise. Jonathan Roxmouth, the youngest English-speaking Phantom in history, and his captivating baritone delivers a haunting yet seductive performance of the Phantom that puts us into the shoes of his protégé, a young chorus girl with whom he falls in love with — sparking both pity and captivation.
At the Opera House, the incompetence of the troupe’s primadonna, Carlotta, triggers a series of events which lead to Christine’s eventual placement as the new lead, garnering notice from a past love-interest, Raoul. Their growing romance leaves the Phantom betrayed and mad with jealousy, and continues to torment all who cross him until his demands are met.
Meghan Picerno’s Christine carefully treads the lines of naiveté and fear for the Phantom. At constant battle within herself to resist the Phantom’s seduction, her faultless portrayal is second only to her soaring vocals. Matt Leisy’s depiction of Raoul is also one that steers less at cookie-cutter Prince Charming and more toward a Jon Snow archetype, frustrated and confused with Christine’s obsession with the Phantom.
The incredibly difficult vocal range that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music demands from the Phantom may be a daunting feat for tenors and baritones alike, but we love Roxmouth’s raw falsettos that betray a vulnerability, perfectly portraying the pain and suffering of a tortured soul. Together with his deliciously deep vocals, it adds layers upon layers of personality and depth behind the mask.
A timeless masterpiece, we adored every spellbinding moment and near-perfect choreography, with an 11-piece live orchestra doing justice to every memorable musical piece. With moments of lighthearted humour sprinkled in by larger-than-life Carlotta (by Beverley Chiat) and hapless stage managers Andre and Firmin (played by Curt Olds and James Borthwick), the play leaves room for both joy, horror, and everything in between.
The Phantom of the Opera runs in Singapore from till 8 June 2019 at Marina Bay Sands. Tickets start from S$75 and are available here.