The Phantom and his protégée may have got the biggest cheer at Milton Keynes Theatre last night, but if the set could have been part of the line-up that would have got a standing ovation too.
Katie Hall (Christine) and Earl Carpenter (the Phantom) were impeccable with their performances, but it was the gigantic set which really created the magic.
This included a huge centre piece which rotated to reveal the creepy wings of the opera house, leading down into the Phantom’s lair, and two-storey boxes on either side of the stage for the opera’s audience and the Phantom himself to sit in. The stage was transformed for each new opera with one magnificent backdrop after another, and just when you thought you’d seen it all, out came the boat, the smoke, the floating candles, and the larger-than-life statues.
The chandelier suspended above the audience was fantastic, and quite frightening for those sat underneath it – especially with all the hints about it crashing to the floor, and the amount of times it shook and spat out sparks.
I won’t spoil it for anyone, but suffice to say I was rather on edge for most of the show sat beneath it wondering if it was about to drop, which fortunately only added to the atmosphere and suspense of the play.
Making the audience feel as though they are in the Opera is something the production does well, blurring the line between the Milton Keynes Theatre show and the Opera Populaire show.
The scene was well and truly set for Hall and Carpenter’s passionate performances – how the pair put such emotion and energy into every show is beyond me.
The voices of talented sopranos Hall and Angela M Caesar (Carlotta Giudicelli) in particular were like nothing I’d ever heard before, and made some of our popular music singers look like squawking hens by comparison.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score for the Phantom really is the best in musical theatre, and the orchestra at Milton Keynes played it beautifully. The tension, the drama and the emotion were wonderfully captured in every number.
The Phantom Of The Opera is at its heart a spooky love story, but there were some moments of humour which made it feel more realistic, without losing sight of the overall horror and drama of the plot.
With Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score and Cameron Mackintosh’s production, the show had the audience glued to their seats, eyes transfixed on the stage as we were drawn into the dark and dramatic world of the Phantom’s opera.
If you want a night of real music, drama, and stunning design, the Phantom Of The Opera is unmissable.
At Milton Keynes Theatre until November 24.
by Connie Primmer @LutonNewsConnie