DA! DA-DA-DA-DA, DA-DA! Sounds that will strike excitement, fear and joy into the hearts of any theatre goer. For those who can’t read our expertly crafted onomatopoeic assertions, we are, of course, singing the opening bars of the title song from The Phantom Of The Opera, which we caught at The Grand in Leeds, where it’s playing the theatre’s longest run of a musical ever as part of its national tour.
We reckon we must be the only people left in the western world who’ve yet to see or hear any previous version – stage or screen wise. But did that put us off? Erm, of course not – we wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Greatly heralded as the West End show of like, all time, we went with high expectations.
Do we need to tell you about the plot, or can we assume that you all know the story? Without giving too much away: brilliant female opera singer seeks angel of music to teach how to have confidence to sing lead. Must have deformed face, anger management issues, crippling jealousy and the ability to collapse sets by just pointing at them. Large lung capacity a must. (Ok, so we’re playing it down – the story is pretty fantastic, we just don’t want to ruin it if you’re new to the show like we were).
This new production of the show, we’re told, features new set design, new staging and new choreography. We aren’t sure what the thing looked like before, but the highlight for us was the most definitely the set design – scenes moved effortlessly and seamlessly into one another. There were moments when a new scene would appear as is from nowhere – you were left wondering how they did it so fast, and where they found room to put that giant statue backstage. The costumes too were incredible – the detail and expense in each garment, particularly in the grandiose numbers centred around the opera and its staging, not only reflected the period, but also the spectacle of the show itself.
The cast were a dream – the sheer might of the vocal ability of the ensemble was breathtaking and very, very powerful. One thing Phantom isn’t is subtle – it’s a full on assault of music, sound, and well, theatre. For first time viewers, it was a bit of a shock, but for Phantom fans it was undoubtedly a fabulous new production of a classic. There were points during this fast paced thriller that we might have got a little lost – but perhaps that’s just us overcomplicating matters rather than enjoying the show for what it is – a masterclass in thrilling, box office breaking, record-smashing musical theatre. Bravo etc.
Don’t go … if you have a migraine
Do go … if you love your musical theatre loud and luxurious
The Phantom of The Opera plays Leeds Grand Theatre until 15th September 2012.
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