Right From the Opening Lines You Felt Engaged and Captivated
John Sutherland Theatre
Reviewed by Karina Lawrence
Walking into the Sydney Opera House nestled in amongst the stunning Sydney Harbour felt quite nostalgic, creating anticipation in what lay ahead with watching the opening of the historic Phantom of the Opera at the newly revamped John Sutherland Theatre.
Arriving on the red carpet was indeed spectacular hosting a huge runway at the entrance with great media walls and themed marketing designs from Opera Australia.
You couldn’t not feel grand and full of an anticipated excitement. The foyer was filled with an atmospheric buzz of black tie fashions and industry professionals.
Once arriving into the theatre the iconic chandelier was apparent and enhanced the enthusiasm of what was to come.
Right from the opening lines you felt engaged and captivated within the moment. The sound and acoustics were superb and that chandelier, the reveal itself was flawless and left you with that sense of wonder of knowing you were in for a spectacular show.
The imminent defending organ riffs set the tone early as we begin the journey of being transported between an alluring and glorious state of gothic fantasy, with descending stair cases that appear literally just like magic to the candle glows of shimmering light with mysterious underground lakes and architecture of 19th century Paris.
The costuming was exquisite and the sets were next level, brilliantly designed by Paul Brown. The originally designed costumes of Maria Bjornson’s brilliance was recreated by Jill Parker and the vibrant colours were a visionary masterpiece, in the second act opener of “Masquerade”
The scene changes blended like the reveal off a rainbow releasing its coloured arches after the rain. The display of each set change allowed your imagination to feel immersed and captivated into the next scene, holding your attention just as much as the talent executed from all the performers.
The “simply epic” new staging includes many special effects, from the famous chandelier to the underground lake, and a large cast and orchestra.
The lead roles of Phantom played by Josh Piterman, Christine played by Amy Manford and Raoul played by Blake Bowden, were perfectly cast and their performances charismatic, committed and powerful. The renowned second act song “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again, performed by the character Christine Daae was a stand out from Amy Manford. Her open hearted innocence and purity was a delight to feel intertwined with, her voice the perfect blend of sweetness and power.
The music from Andrew Lloyd Webber is always mesmerising and uplifting. The versatile 27-piece pit orchestra played music that ranged from operatic to soaring ballads and synthesised pop. But the amplification, particularly in the first act, sometimes overshadowed the voices.
It was certainly engaging and alluring in its power with beautifully articulated blends of full orchestral sounds mixed almost with moments of modern rock.
Beautifully lead by David Cullen.
None the less it captivated you almost into another time and world and we are reminded of the expertise of this impactive musical that is one of the longest running Musicals in theatre history.
Produced by Opera Australia and the Really Useful Company in association with Cameron Mackintosh this new aged version is thrilling and bigger and better than ever.
It features a new direction by Laurence Connor, brand new scenic design by Paul Brown, lighting design by Tony Award winner Paule Constable, sound design by Mick Potter, new choreography by Scott Ambler with a large cast of talented artists and performers.
It’s impactive and impressive on a smaller sized stage and takes you effortlessly on a wonderful journey and escapism of a charismatic dance and love triangle by the three main leads.
The thrill was apparent from beginning to end. Receiving a standing ovation and ravenous amounts of applause and bravos. This production is a must see filled with delight, talent and beauty in amongst the diverse themes within its story telling. It has moments of delightful humour and musical charm delivered from the cast and leaves you wanting more. The best kind of entertainment you could ask for.
A huge Bravo to all involved. This is definitely needed for our eyes to feast upon!