I’ve to begin this by saying that I’m not an Andrew Lloyd Webber fan. It’s true, he knows how to wrote beautiful melodies and I love some of his songs, but on the whole his scores never conquered me.
I saw this famous musical twice on stage in London. That first time was in 1992 and I saw it from the last row of the upper balcony; I couldn’t be farther from the stage. For the second time, in 1994, I got a seat on the first row of the orchestra. The first time I saw a terrific Christine and Raoul and a poor Phantom; the last time I had a fantastic Phantom and a not so good Christine and Raoul. Both times the show looked amazing, but it was kind of boring.
Now, I got my hands on the 25th Birthday concert of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at London’s Royal Albert Hall and, for the first time, I enjoyed it. This concert looks absolutely fabulous and it has a large company and a highly talented cast. The three principals are all good and so is the supporting cast.
Ramin Karimloo is a strong and sweet Phantom and the beautiful Sierra Boggess is a perfect Christine; there’s true chemistry between them and their duets sound wonderful. As for Hadley Fraser he is a rough and sexy Raoul who feels the love between Christine and the Phantom and is terribly jealous of it. One last word for Wendy Ferguson who plays a funny and irritating Carlotta; I loved her.
There are many highlights here. One of my favorite songs of the score, “Prima Donna”, is beautifully done. The famous “All I Ask of You” (another favorite of mine) duet sounds perfect in the voices of Boggess and Fraser. Karimloo give us a great “The Music of the Night”, Boggess is at her best with the haunting “Wishing you Were Somehow Here Again” and together they delivered an effective “The Point of No Return”. The “Masquerade” sequence looks and sounds better than ever.
As for the “modern-rock” title song, I always hated it and I didn’t change my mind; I always felt that it didn’t belong in this score. Sometimes I wish Webber didn’t feel the urge to be “modern”. One more thing, just like it happens on stage, the chandelier sequence doesn’t work.
Anyway, I think this is the best way to discover or rediscover this musical hit. By the end of the show, there are a couple of highly emotional surprises that I’m sure will please you.
Read more reviews at jorgeplace.com