In a modern take on the classic musical, Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera arrives at the Arts Centre State Theatre in Melbourne. Opening night was a spectacle with the attendance of many notable members from the entertainment and performing arts industry across Australia.
Prior to Melbourne, the new production of the hit musical finished its Australian debut at the Sydney Opera House with rave reviews. The Phantom of the Opera musical is based on the 1910 French novel of the same name written by Gaston Leroux and tells the story of the mysterious phantom who haunts the Paris Opera House.
The two leads of the show Christine Daaé and The Phantom are portrayed by Amy Manford and Josh Pieterman. Both performers have previously played these two characters globally on London’s West End with critical acclaim. Their duet of The Phantom of the Opera for Melbourne audiences is simply magical with their voices so complimentary. Sometimes it feels like a musical theatre performer was born to play a particular role in a show and this is definitely the case for Amy Manford and her portrayal of the innocent and sweet Christine with her awe-inspiring soprano voice and flawless vocals. The role of The Phantom is no easy feat with many legendary greats portraying the role but Josh Pieterman proves that he is worthy and makes the role his own. He thrives in his rendition of The Music of the Night.
Blake Bowden plays a charming Raoul; the childhood friend and love interest of Christine Daaé. His vocals are flawless and his acting spills complete adoration for Christine that you can really feel the chemistry between them onstage.
The three main leads all demand such stage presence that you cannot take your eyes off them. Their harmonies are in perfect unison and you can feel the love and betrayal that depicts this classic love triangle.
A special mention also needs to go to Giuseppina Grech for her part as Carlotta Giudicelli, the Prima Donna of the Paris Opera who brings elements of comic relief to the show and soars with her vocals and effortlessly hits those high notes.
The ensemble help to bring the singing and dancing component to life with the intricate choreography by Scott Ambler and direction by Laurence Connor.
The classic soundtrack of the show is played by an incredibly talented 27-piece orchestra led by Anthony Barnhill, Musical Director with the memorable overture transporting you into the world of the Paris Opera House.
Costuming from Tony Award-winner Maria Björnson brings so much light and colour to the stage and complements the set. The iconic and bold colours of red and gold are prominent throughout the costumes in a lot of the big ensemble numbers, especially Masquerade.
The revised production is very clever in how it tells the story of The Phantom, especially in depicting the timeframes of the past and present tense. Nina Dunn’s video and projection design are extremely clever, especially with the use of a projector to show silhouettes of The Phantom’s past to visually complement the verbal storytelling.
The lighting design by Paule Constable really shows the contrasts between light and dark with the opera being a place of colour and light and most scenes with The Phantom being very dark, gloomy and lit up by candles.
The sound design by Mick Potter kept you on the edge of your seat with the cleverly designed voice-overs of The Phantom’s bellowing voice shifting from stage right to stage left amongst the speakers in the audience.
Paul Brown’s set designs are one of the standouts of this performance with the rotation of the set showing different locations from the stage of the opera, to the back of the opera and the centre opening up to The Phantom’s room. The famous chandelier also doesn’t disappoint.
The performance is met with a standing ovation for the incredible cast and crew who have brought this opera and musical crossover to new heights with this delightful new production.
The spectacular revival of The Phantom of the Opera is now playing at Arts Centre Melbourne until February 2023 and is a must-see if you’re a fan of the classic or new to the show.
For more information and ticketing, visit: https://www.artscentremelbourne.com.au/whats-on/2022/musical/phantom-of-the-opera
The global phenomenon has been running for more than 30 years after premiering in London’s West End in October 1986 and is the longest-running Broadway production in history.
After its West End and Broadway debut, it has been a massive success worldwide and has won more than 70 awards worldwide including 3 Olivier awards and 7 Tony Awards.