on December 16, 2010
Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's, 'The Phantom of the Opera' first opened at Her Majesty's Theatre, in London's Haymarket, in September 1986 and is now in it's 24th year. It is said to be the most successful musical, in a financial sense, ever. It is definitely one of the most popular. 'Phantom of the Opera' is shown in many countries, with great acclaim. It has won many awards worldwide.BACKGROUNDA French author named Gaston Leroux had his book published in 1911 but, unfortunately, sales weren't especially great. In 1925 Lon Chaney senior starred in the film version. And then, in 1986, we had Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical version, with Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman playing the leads.THE STORYChristine Daae is left motherless as a young child. She is reared by her violinist father and travels with him. He tells her many stories, one being about an 'Angel of Music.' When dying, he tells her that he will send this 'angel' to her. Eventually Christine lands a place in the chorus of the Paris Opera House. This house is believed to be haunted and there are many strange and sinister goings on happening here.Christine often hears a voice speaking and singing to her and she believes this to be the 'Angel of Music', sent by her deceased father. Instead it is Erik ( The Phantom) the 'Ghost' who is sadly disfigured thus wears a mask and hides in the cellars of the opera house, causing strange events to happen. The phantom really is quite unbalanced and controlling but, we do get to empathise with him as we come to understand his character a little.With a little help from 'Phantom' Christine gets the lead thus an ensuing power struggle develops between her and the envious Carlotta, the former female lead. This is due to the temperamental Carlotta not wanting a rival for the leading roles. I will not say any more as I would much rather you go and watch this wonderful piece of theatre for yourself.OUR VISIT TO SEE 'THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA'My son wanted to celebrate his birthday by going to see The Phantom Of the Opera. I booked five tickets for this just over a week before the event. The best seats that I could get together, were in the Grand Circle, row D, seats 20-24. I knew we would be a long way away from everything but, as this was his chosen musical we decided to go for it. The tickets were for myself, my husband, our son, his girlfriend and our teenage daughter. The seats cost a little over £40 each, (I think £44) plus booking fee. I ordered the tickets from Seetickets via their website.But then the important date arrived, January 6th, and the snow returned with a vengeance. The question was, would we make it to the cinema and, would the actors be able to get there? The roads were treacherous and throughout the day the snow continued to fall. Yes, everywhere looked very pretty indeed with the ground blanketed in snow and falling thick and fast, but what of our plans? What a worry and what a terrible disappointment if we couldn't make the performance. My husband rang the theatre who said that the performance was still scheduled to take place.Well they do say, 'The show must go on!'Although worried that we wouldn't be able to reach our destination we set out wrapped up with as many layers as possible. We set out very early. It's about a twenty minute walk to the underground station from my house but it was too slippery for me to walk. My husband thought the main roads wouldn't be too bad so we chanced taking the car. Well, that was really the worst bit. Parking the car was difficult, with the car skidding but my husband managed not to damage anyone or anything! The central line was running, albeit with a''' very reduced service'''. We got on our train and, although the journey took longer than it usually would, we got there with time to spare. Central and west London was well gritted and nothing like as bad as our locality.On arriving at Her Majesty's Theatre we had a much needed drink in the bar. It was my son's girlfriend's first visit to a West end theatre and it was worth the trip just to see the wondrous expression on her face.We were a long way from the stage but the seats are well tiered and, as much of the stage and surrounds are used you still felt involved. Also, one can use small binoculars if you put 50 pence into a slot on the seat backs. I couldn't have used these for too long though as found it a little disorientating. However, it was good to be able to see an occasional close up of the actors.OUR VIEWWe all loved this musical extravaganza. I will say though, that In my personal view it wasn't as good as 'Les Miserables' which I had seen a few months earlier. I would say that it didn't have such a profound affect on me as, 'Les Mis' which I previously reviewed but it was still amazing. I did find at times there was a bit too much going on with the chorus, especially when 'Carlotta' was involved, but I believe this was the required effect. I just found it a little, 'busy!' But everything else was perfect. If I went again I would try to purchase seats in the stalls or circle (lower circle NOT grand circle).My son and his girlfriend were entranced from beginning to end. My daughter had previously been to see this and loves it but she is obsessed with musicals anyway.VERY MEMORABLE MOMENTSIn Scene Four we have the famous 'undeground scene' with Christine being ferried along the river which runs below the story's theatre. They sing, 'Phantom of the Opera' and this really is the time to reach for the tissues.I like most of the sings but particularly enjoyed, 'Think of Me', 'Music of the Night' and 'Angel of Music'.The performance of David Shannon as 'Phantom', was absolutely brilliant. I feel privileged to have been present in the theatre when he played the lead. I had previously seen him in 'Les Mis' and then was overawed by his talent. Although all the acting was good, with a very wonderful portrayal of Christine, by Gina Beck, for me, David Shannon 'made' this show. He climbs about the theatre playing the ' Opera Ghost.' Even when Shannon sings in a whisper his voice carries and is very, very, special.The effects are incredible, as are the wonderfully vibrant costumes. These are beautiful colourful and a sight to behold.The dancing too, is unforgettable adding greatly to the mood of the show.We had a truly wonderful, memorable evening, whilst watching this iconic show. It really is one of those shows that should be seen at least once.In summary I would say that if you fancy watching a show depicting a powerful tale of love, jealousy and revenge then The Phantom of the Opera is a show made for you! I would advise choosing seats carefully but of course the best seats are usually the most expensive, unless you manage to get a good deal. it is worth trying TKTS in theatre land where cheap tickets are often available.I would also always suggest first looking at www.theatremonkey.co.uk where you can view theatre seats and also read theatre goers views on the best available seats. I've always found this useful. People of course, have different views on seating but it will give you some idea and tips as to which are the best seats for the amount that you are willing (or more apt, probably, are able) to pay.
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