Phantom Fever: The Opera takes Manila

When my friend Leslie and I heard that the international production of The Phantom of the Opera was coming to Manila, we couldn’t wait to see it. I’m not as big an expert of the show as she is but I did love the movie and I am absolutely nuts about musicals so what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than taking in a performance of world class artists and getting lost to the best compositions of Andrew Lloyd Webber?

I figured that should not pass up this opportunity because who knows if I would be able to see them abroad or if they even return to Manila in the future. It was a bit pricey (We spent over P2,000 each for a balcony seat and we were really far from the stage) but I should say that the show was no less exciting from afar.

The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of a deformed musical genius who haunts the Paris Opera House , one of the most prestigious halls of art in (of course) the French capital. Christine Daae, whom the Phantom has developed a tendre for,  is a talented young singer who is suddenly thrust upon center stage when the Phantom causes an “accident” in the theater which endangers the life of Señora Carlotta, the prima donna of the opera. Unknown to Christine, the stranger who has been giving her lessons whom she refers to as the angel of music is actually the Phantom and that he has plans to lure her to his lair underneath the opera house to make her his bride. But her childhood friend Raoul stands in his way, as his muse favors her suitor to the hideous ghost who ruthlessly murders people who defies his wishes.

From the time that the orchestra played the opening bars of The Phantom of the Opera, I knew I was in for a treat. The intricate detailing of the set pieces, the flawless transitioning from sequence to sequence —  unbelievably astounding. I was truly curious to see how the production would execute the changes in the setting because when I watched the movie, they had a lot of sets, but I was completely blown away by how well the stage was utilized.

HUGE TURNOUT. The crowd loiters the halls of the CCP prior to the performance.

The performances were so amazing. Not a single pitch off key. The cast was absolutely marvelous and drew applause after each production (deservedly so). The actress who played Daae, Claire Lyons was an absolute pro who performed popular pieces like Angel of Music, The Phantom of the Opera and Music of the Night effortlessly. The crowd loved her. Anthony Downing, who took on the role of the suitor Raoul, embodied his character and injected his own flavor to his performance as well. Among the secondary characters, I loved Christine’s friend, the ballerina Meg Giry played by the Cat Lane. I felt that she was a very likeable character and the ease in which Lane portrayed the role made the audience easily relate to the part.

But truly, the most fabulous character in the show was none other than the Phantom himself, played by Jonathan Roxmouth. All of his scenes were perfect because he had this excellent voice projection that translated his emotions through his performance. More than his charisma, he had a unique type of voice quality that reaches out to the audience draws them to the character. He is so good that one can listen to him for hours and still be amazed at his skill. I’m having trouble describing it because I myself, can’t get over it. I have never thought that a musical performance could bring tears to my eyes, but Roxmouth was able to, just from listening to him (We were too far out to see his acting close up) and that, I believe is a feat in itself. His voice just has that power — to enchant the audiences, make them empathize with the Phantom and bring them along to the journey that is his story.

Aside from saying that I had goosebumps after each performance or never for once felt the need to say anything other than, ang galing (awesome), I think the entire production is deserving of superlative praise for this world class act. I especially want to give credit to the orchestra, for bringing the music to life.

All in all, I am glad I saw it and if they come again, I would gladly wait in line for hours just to see the show again. The Phantom of the Opera is not just an ordinary musical, not just a regular play. It is an experience. An experience that I was glad to have, even for a short while. Bravo!

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