Review: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at Raimund Theater

Back in Vienna in the new production directed by Seth Sklar-Heyn Starring Anton Zetterholm, Lisanne Clémence Veeneman and Roy Goldman

By: Mar. 16, 2024
Review: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at Raimund Theater
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It would be best to be always careful about what you wish for what someone says. I often talked about the so-called good old days in Vienna, when CATS, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and LES MISÉRABLES were in town, and musicals got a lot of attention in the country, and how amazing it might be to have this history-making shows back in town. It seems like sometimes wishes come true, with the return of CATS for far longer than usually planned, and now Andrew Lloyd Webber's PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, an iconic masterpiece with one of the most famous Overtures in Musical-Theatre and, of course, the Chandelier.

It hasn't been long since we said farewell to The Phantom on Broadway, the last Original production. The piece had its issues, but with the Chandelier, or the candles arising from the lake (candles for no particular reason in a lake, but never mind, it worked), our beloved friend with the mask has found a place in our hearts.

 Seeing the Chandelier coming down one last time at the Majestic Theatre has been a bittersweet feeling, the final curtain for the one show that has always been around.
Sometimes, a door needs to be closed to open a new one. Cameron Mackintosh is writing a new chapter with this version, directed by Seth-Sklar Heyn (based on the Laurence Connor staging)

First, the Phantom is not just about the Chandelier; it is an important part, more like a cast member than a prob. When entering the beautiful Raimund Theater, you get greeted by the wrapped-up Chandelier already dangling over the auditorium.

The new one is vivid, full of little details in the set, and more colorful than we are used to.

Review: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at Raimund Theater
The Ensemble of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA in Masquerade ©VBW_Deen van Meer

Same, same, but different!

Of course, the production has its well-known tunes, the famous masked singer, and all the other, more or less, loveable characters, but there are some new ways to look at the protagonists, and let's be honest, Connor and Sklar-Heyn found a way to create even more different layers. It feels like watching something new yet familiar. Recreating an iconic masterpiece is like walking on a tightrope. Connor has a history of getting iconic shows in a different direction, some for the better and some like Les Misérables. (Authors opinion only)
Vienna's new Phantom sounds impressive, not only because of Carsten Paap (Musical Director) and the VBW orchestra but also because of some first-class Musical Actors.

Iconic roles are sometimes more challenging to cast because everyone has an opinion about their looks and sounds. You can take risks by trying something unconventional or taking the safe option. Casting Directors decided to try something no one expected—Anton Zetterholm, usually the handsome, loveable prince charming, staring as the mysterious masked singer. Indeed, it was something unexpected, something Opening Night's audience enjoyed. Zetterholm, who started his career as Tarzan in the eponymous Disney show, had big shoes to fill; Alexander Goebl and Ethan Freeman, to name a few, brought something unique to the role, Zetterholm's Phantom is more agile and more sensitive, but still menacing—a pitiful creature with a beautiful mature voice, a perfect fit for Vienna.

Review: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at Raimund Theater
Lisanne Clémence Veeneman (Christine) and Anton Zetterholm (The Phantom) ©VBW_Deen van Meer

Even as important as the actor playing the Phantom is the part of his Muse. Lisanne Clémence Veeneman scintillates as Christine Daaé, matching with both of her admirers, the Phantom, and her future husband, Raul Vicomte De Chagny, played by Roy Goldman who is not only a brilliant Vicomte, but he is also covering the title role, together with Greg Castiglioni (Ubaldo Piangi) and Robert Meyer (Hairdresser). There are so many different voices and exciting actors; this time, exceptional casting choices exist.

Review: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at Raimund Theater
from left Patricia Nessy (Madame Giry), Laura May Croucher (Meg Giry), Roy Goldman (Raul), Milica Jovanović, (Carlotta), Rob Pelzer (Monsieur André), Greg Castiglioni (Piangi), Thomas Sigwald (Monsieur Firmin) ©VBW_Deen van Meer

With Rob Pelzer as witty Monsieur André, Thomas Sigwald as his partner in crime, Monsieur Firmin, Milica Jovanović as lascivious Diva in persona Carlotta Giudicelli, and Laura May Croucher as Meg Giry, the VBW gathered together an outstanding cast for this timeless, a dignified masterpiece, with first-class dancers, like Brodie Donougher (Hannibals Guard), well-known for his two-year run as Billy Elliot in London's West End back in 2014.
Phantom became a Synonym for first-class Musical Theatre in Vienna 36 years ago. It was the talk of the nation and found its way into the television program "Wurlitzer," which showcased popular music videos from famous bands and musical songs due to the Phantom's success.

The show already sold more than 120000 tickets before Opening Night. I may not be a fortune teller, but it feels like Vienna is grateful to have its Phantom back and welcomed it with open arms and Standing Ovations.

As said before, always be careful what you wish for. We got CATS and now the Phantom; the wishlist is almost completed.

You have to say goodbye to something familiar sometimes; in the case of the Opera Ghost, you won't regret it.

Review: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at Raimund Theater
Anton Zetterholm (The Phantom) and Lisanne Clémence Veeneman (Christine) ©VBW_Deen van Meer


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