A significant feather was added to Dubai Opera’s cap on October 17 as the world’s longest running Broadway musical, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ by Andrew Lloyd Webber, premiered to resounding cheers and a standing ovation from a packed house.
This haunting tale of unrequited love, burning desire and loss isn’t subtle and is grandly over-the-top, but it will transport you to a fantastical world where heightened emotions and the boundaries of consent are beautifully blurred.
Here’s what was unmasked during the dark and magical evening about a phantom’s dangerous obsession with an operatic singer Christine …
The Music of the Night
The world famous 1986 Andrew Lloyd Webber musical needs no introduction and even to a novice theatre goer, the dramatic organ chords of the title song are instantly familiar. As much as it is a story about the haunting of a Paris opera house by a ghost, the musical as a whole will haunt you long afterwards. The music (naturally) takes centre stage and the numbers are collectively riveting.
The two most famous songs ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and ‘The Music of the Night’ were brilliant as expected but also disheartening in that there is no reliving it as no recording will ever quite compare to the experience of a live performance. This is probably why this is such a long-running and successful musical — you have to go soak it all in and simply feel the music. Other numbers that were particularly enjoyable were ‘All I Ask of You’, ‘Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again’ and ‘The Point of No Return’.
The Phantom and performances
Jonathan Roxmouth as the Phantom owns the role and the show, giving a compelling performance in all his different avatars. Be it half masked, fully masked, wholly cloaked, bare faced, mostly shadow or stripped down to a soul-stirring voice echoing and swirling around you, Roxmouth has you spellbound. He’s not an easy man to like and how can you sympathise with a borderline stalker in this #MeToo era, but Roxmouth injects his act with pathos and humility. Don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself rooting for the obsessive ghost who doesn’t get the woman that he covets.
His powerhouse singing is the heart of the show but he’s strikingly good even in those silent scenes. We feel his pain and hurt, even when he doesn’t utter a word. The final scene with Christine where he flashes a look of hopeless hope was masterfully done. Claire Lyon as his object of desire, Christine, plays his perfect foil.
Her solo in the graveyard yearning for her father’s love, guidance and presence struck a chord in you. Her vulnerability seems genuine and her sympathy towards her obsessed ghost makes her a complex character to pin down, but she excels.
Matt Leisy shines as Raoul, combining boyish earnestness and romantic devotion so winningly that you can’t help but root for him, no matter how seductive the dark phantom may be.
Despite its dark themes of obsession, unrequited love and revenge, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ is interspersed with well-timed light hearted moments.
Beverley Chiat as Carlotta impresses with her operatic vocals as well as comic timing. Her cheers for the night were only second to the phantom’s, quite a testament to her performance.
The theatre managers played by James Borthwick and Curt Olds are expressive in the minutest of gestures, often making you smile the moment they are on stage. They bumble through the rigours of putting on a show while dealing with the seemingly endless correspondence of a prolific phantom.
The Magic of the Sets
Brace yourself for the intensely immersive experience that is this performance of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. Get there a little early to take in the grandeur of a 19th century Parisian opera house. Here is a musical that lends itself to opulent costumes and extravagant sets in almost every scene, a musical that lends itself to the supernatural. All in all, it is a veritable visual feast. To say more would give away too much and take away from what will be the magic of your night at Dubai Opera.
Don’t miss it!
‘The Phantom of the Opera’ runs at Dubai Opera until November 9. Tickets start at Dh250 and are available online.