Review Roundup: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA in Manila; Show Must Close 10/14

Manila, Philippines, September 19, 2012 - After several previous run extension announcements, the international touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's mega musical "The Phantom of the Opera," playing at the main theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), must finally close on Sunday, October 14.

Producer James Cundall, CEO of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, said in a press statement that "the unbelievable response of the Philippine audience to the show encouraged us to extend the run, adding 16 more performances."

"The Phantom of the Opera," which premiered at Her Majesty's Theatre in London's West End in 1986, and opened at Majestic Theatre on Broadway in New York City in 1988, tells the story of a disfigured musical genius' shadowy existence, and his love for the beautiful, talented ingénue, Christine Daaé.

Nearly 100 tons of set pieces and props; more than 700 stage lighting equipment and accessories; and around 230 Victorian style costumes by the late production designer Maria Björnson were shipped from South Africa, where the international touring cast last performed.

Seasoned South African actors Jonathan Roxmouth (Phantom) and Anthony Downing (Raoul), and Australian soprano Claire Lyon (Christine) headline the Manila production.

Below are heaps of mostly rave reviews that Filipino theater critics have written about the show.

Sam Marcelo, BusinessWorld: Even the most blasé of viewers will appreciate how the show's technical aspects have held up after more than two decades. The costumes are still lavish; the sets, still extravagant. Viewers are whisked from one scene to the next at a dizzying pace; the Phantom is inside the Paris Opera House, backstage, in the wings, on the roof, behind Christine's mirror, on a boat, and underground. And we're right there with him thanks to the stage design of Maria Bjornson. Ironically, it's the signature chandelier crash that betrays the production's age: It doesn't crash as much as it saunters…

"The Music of the Night" and "All I Ask of You" have always been crowd-pleasers and these songs illustrate the show's ambivalence towards Christine's suitors. Darkness and sweet intoxication are the Phantom's territory. Daylight and summertime are Raoul's.

Hidden behind his mask, Mr. Roxmouth uses his dulcet voice and his hands to woo both Christine and the audience. A pianist, he possesses nimble fingers that are hypnotic to watch. "My take on it is that the Phantom is so obsessed with music that he's constantly conducting what he hears in his head," he said during a post-show interview. "Life to him is like a symphony and he's the conductor."

The Phantom of the Opera has agEd Gracefully. Its power hasn't been dimmed by Joel Schumacher's film adaptation or by its polarizing sequel, "Love Never Dies" -- both of which provoked mixed reactions. The musical's stagecraft is the true star and it shines as brightly as ever.

Vladimir Bunoan, Even those who have seen the production before in either London or New York's Broadway -- or, in the case of this writer, in Hong Kong in 1996 -- lauded the Manila production, which is really as good as it gets…

The weaknesses of "Phantom" are still there -- the score is repetitive, the fictional opera segments (such as "Point of No Return") are too long, the counterpoints can sound messy to the ears -- but, what's more important, the brilliance that made it into a pop-culture phenomenon hasn't faded one bit…

"Phantom" is really a triumph of the spectacular vision of director Harold Prince and set and costume designer Maria Bjornson…

From the sets to the costumes, Bjornson fills up the stage with lush details -- the gigantic backdrops to the staged operas, including a life-sized elephant with a moving head, the roof-top view of turn-of-the-century Paris, providing a sweeping romantic background for "All I Ask of You," and, of course, the Phantom's underground lair with hundreds of candles and ornate candelabras emerging from under the stage.

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Oliver Oliveros Oliver Oliveros recently received a master's degree in public relations and corporate communication from New York University while serving as regional director for, where he accepted an Award for Excellence in 2013.

For nearly 20 years, Oliver has been handling public relations, corporate communication, and integrated marketing communications for numerous brands (including Pepsi), Broadway shows, Broadway stars, non-profit organizations, and mainstream celebrities.

He is also the editor-in-chief for FIL-AM WHO'S WHO, a monthly magazine that tells the real-life success stories of Filipino Americans from the New York Tri-State area.

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