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BWW Review: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA 25TH ANNIVERSARY PERFORMANCE, Royal Albert Hall

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BWW Review: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA 25TH ANNIVERSARY PERFORMANCE, Royal Albert Hall

BWW Review: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA 25TH ANNIVERSARY PERFORMANCE, Royal Albert HallAndrew Lloyd Webber continues to indulge theatre lovers in lockdown with his generous weekly stream of one his works on the dedicated The Shows Must Go On YouTube channel to raise money for charity. This week's offering is the 25th-anniversary performance of The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall and live-streamed in cinemas in 2011.

Ramin Karimloo dons the iconic white mask and embodies the Phantom with his incredibly powerfully charged vocals. He is reunited with his Love Never Dies co-star, Sierra Boggess, who portrays a delightfully doe-eyed Christine.

Hadley Fraser is just wonderful as Raoul, the other seeker of Christine's affections in this tale, with perhaps less obsessive undertones than the Angel of Music. Wendy Ferguson is delightfully over the top as opera diva Carlotta opposite Wynne Evans as Piangi.

Barry James and Gareth Snook are suitably dismissive of the demands of the resident ghost of their new establishment, delivering the notes sequences with scoff and scorn. Liz Robertson portrays the sterner and softer sides of Madam Giry and Daisy Maywood is endearing as Christine's concerned friend, Meg.

Staging and choreography by the late Gillian Lynne and direction by Laurence Conner make full use of the Albert Hall stage, filling the space with dazzling dance breaks in the opera scenes and use digital screens to make the mirror and candelabras larger than life. Use of audience spaces by the cast whisks the audience and viewer to the Paris Opéra House.

Maria Björnson's costumes from the original production immerse the show in the late 1800s and add to the romance and drama on stage. Patrick Woodroffe's lighting design beautifully sets the gloomy lair and dramatic rooftop scenes.

It wouldn't be an anniversary of a Cameron Mackintosh performance without the appearance of cast and creatives past and present alongside some special encores - which I won't spoil for those who have yet to see it.

As wonderful as the score and staging are, the power dynamics portrayed through Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe's book have never sat right with me. Christine's welfare and decisions always seem to be subject to the men controlling her life. Boggess portrays that degree of helplessness extremely well. Would the show have done as well if it opened in 2020? Who knows.

Despite this, people love it for so many reasons and return again and again. The show is in its 34th year in London after all. It has one of the most easily recognisable scores packed full of synthesisers, dramatic chromatic scales and soaring strings. Charles Hart's dynamic lyrics pair beautifully with some of the most romantic and lyrical melodies Lloyd Webber has ever written.

This anniversary production is the Phantom we love at a whole other level. Don't miss your chance to catch this classic while you still can.

The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary Performance streaming until 7 pm, 18 April in the UK and 19 April worldwide

Photography credit: Johan Persson


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