Theatre review: Phantom of the Opera

Posted: December 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Written by Gaston Leroux, Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Directed by Harold Prince, Lyrics by Charles Hart, Musical staging and choreography by Gillian Lynne. With Andre Schwartz, Jonathan Roxmouth, Robin Botha or Magdalene Minnaar, Angela Killian, James Borthwich, Jason Ralph, Hanlee Louw , Pauline du Plessis, Thabiso Masemene, Cat Lane and cast. Artscape Threatre until 15 January 2012. at 08hPM. Review by ASTRID STARK First published in the Cape Times.

 The legendary phantom is back to haunt the Artscape Theatre in what is arguaby the most spectacular production to be presented in South Africa this year. 

Much adored Andre Schwartz, who played the beleaguered Phantom in Pieter Toerien’s production in 2004, was again set to take the leading role, however an injured voice had cost him opening night.  This left Jonathan Roxmouth with big shoes to fill, however, he pulled it off with an incredible amount of energy, charisma and talent, as did the rest of the cast.

The extreme professionalism and outstanding production value of this musical is quite astounding. Clearly no expenses were spared. This production is gigantic. It is robust and it bristles with energy and zeal. The stage groans under voluminous layers of decadently embroidered fabrics, golden tussles and extravagant chandeliers.

The Phantom musical is inspired by Gaston Leroux’s novel Le Fantéme de l’Opera and this particular interpretation of the production stays very close to the novel’s gothic feel. Horror and romance are mashed up in a classic struggle for power love and honour. The story follows the journey of a beautiful and gifted singer Christine, played by Robin Botha, as she trained by the mysterious phantom, who is perpetually obsessed by her beauty and her voice. He slowly seduces the trusting Christine while cruelly tormenting the rest of the cast and crew.  His tumulous background has grotesquely disfigured the phantom, both inside and out, and we know that this ‘romance’ is heading for the rocks. Things quickly start to fall apart. Add to the mix the charming Raoul who is competing for Christine’s hand, Carlotta the prima donna who can see the young Christine ripping her own dreams to pieces, an ensemble of colourful characters, an opera house with mysterious tunnels, a murder and you have all the elements of a darkly  delightful romantic horror along the lines of Frankestein and the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Robin Botha as Christine delivers a brilliant performance. An experienced opera singer and inspired by electronic opera and all things burlesque, Botha brings to her part a curious mix of classic opera with a modern accessible streak. Her voice is powerful and she just about raises the roof of the Artscape without, it seems, too much effort.  Botha’s voice is complemented by that of the charming Jonathan Roxmouth who appeared very comfortable in his leading role.

Notable also is the performance of Cat Lane as Meg Giry, daughter of the ballet mistress, Madame Giry. Delicate and white as a rose petal, she shimmers on stage like a mirage, yet she has a powerful presence and her dancing is sublime.

Thabiso Masemene as Piangi plays his part with a delightful dash of twisted humour. He is dressed in the most decadent gold embroidered silk, satin and lace and he has a lovely rich voice to match the exuberance of his appearance.

Highlights are of course Christine and Raoul’s very popular rendition of ‘All I Ask of You’ – the tears were flowing- as well as the Phantom’s Music of the Night.  Weber’s music is truly timeless. Unrequited love, mental and physical scars, obsession, they are all here to stay and what better way to illustrate it than through a melodramatic musical excellently performed.

By the time the cast deliver the extravagant Masquerade you feel as if you have been sucked into a bit of a hallucinogenic trance. The costume design has to be seen to be believed.  It is totally outrageous – in a good way. The attention to is detail fantastic. The colours are delightfully rich and dark; emerald greens, blood red, raven black, lots of gold and shimmering silver. There are layers of feathers, solid buckles and buttons, lace trimming, outlandish headgear, masks of chickens, pigs, cows and of course the grim reaper. Together with the sublime stage design and dramatic lighting it is almost too much to take in during one sitting.

Truly outstanding in a most understated way is the orchestra. It is a freelance ensemble and together they set the perfect pace for the action on stage. The orchestra creates a subtle yet confident ambience which gently permeates the production.

For an audio visual feast delivered passionately by professionals, The Phantom makes is set to be the perfect extravagant holiday entertainment. I predict this one to be a sell-out.

* Tickets are from R125 to R425. To book visit www.computicket.com or call computicket on 0861 915 8000.  THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Written by Gaston Leroux, Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Directed by Harold Prince, Lyrics by Charles Hart, Musical staging and choreography by Gillian Lynne. With Andre Schwartz, Jonathan Roxmouth, Robin Botha or Magdalene Minnaar, Angela Killian, James Borthwich, Jason Ralph, Hanlee Louw , Pauline du Plessis, Thabiso Masemene, Cat Lane and cast. Artscape Threatre until 15 January 2012. at 08hPM. Review by ASTRID STARK

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Comments
  1. Leo Monopoli says:

    I really love phantom of the opera since the music is great and also the story line is top of the line compared with other opera performance. ,.*,`

    Thanks again
    http://www.prettygoddess.com

    Like

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