Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s novel is one of the most beloved musicals of all time, is Broadway’s Longest Running Musical by more than 2000 performances, and is second in the West End only to Les Miserables. To celebrate the show’s 25th Anniversary, a special performance was staged at London’s Royal Albert Hall on 1st & 2nd October this year, and has been filmed for the enjoyment of cinemagoers everywhere.
Audiences are treated not only to a wonderful rendition of Lloyd Webber’s tragic romance, but also the rousing curtain call, standing ovation and series of impassioned speeches that followed the performance. Lloyd Webber was in attendance, and gives an emotional account of Phantom‘s origins, as well as inviting some of the musical’s best-loved performers onto the stage, most notably Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman – original tars of both the London and New York productions. Whether you are already a fan, or completely new to the show, this is a wonderfully inventive way of experiencing The Phantom of the Opera.
This filmed version gets you up close to the performers, giving you excellent coverage from a variety of angles, as well as fully appreciating the nuanced performances. Ramin Karimloo is the Phantom, a role he played previously both in the West End and in the short-lived sequel, Love Never Dies. His co-star from that production, American actress Sierra Boggess, plays Christine – the beautiful soprano with whom the Phantom becomes infatuated – and is far and away the highlight of the production. Her incredible vocal range is given a thorough workout by the challenging and layered score, and Boggess is flawless in what is not only a highly skilled performance, but an incredibly demanding one, both physically and emotionally.
Viewers may be wary of the lengthy running time and higher ticket price, but The Phantom of the Opera cannot be compared to a regular movie-going experience. This is an opportunity to enjoy the world’s most successful theatrical show at a price that wouldn’t even get you through the door of the West End or Broadway productions. The show does keep the 20-minute interval, so viewers can stretch their legs and grab a snack, but they won’t hesitate to rush back to their seats for the spectacular second half of this genuine classic of 20th Century theatre. An unusual filmgoing experience, to be sure, this can’t compare to actually “being there”, but for those of us who don’t have a live production playing on our doorstep, this is the next best thing, and an unforgettable night out.