Producer and director Matt Byrne should be applauded for bringing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most successful musical to Adelaide.
Long after the final curtain falls, The Phantom of the Opera is there inside your mind. This amateur production at the Arts Theatre is ritzy and modish, and as bracing as the weather on this winter’s night.
Baron Webber fans won’t want to miss this production of Broadway’s longest-running musical. Music aficionados will not want to miss this tuneful treat, and anyone who likes accomplished entertainment won’t want to miss this piece of theatre. Because as non-professionals, Byrne and his troupe have managed to accomplish a feat most theatre companies wouldn’t even attempt – and, with the help of CLOC Musical Theatre’s sets, they’ve delivered something spectacular.
Like the scenery, the costumes (also on loan from CLOC) are first-class. Sue Pole’s choreography is spot-on for the material, and Rodney Hrvatin’s musical direction is a marvel. Of course, there are plenty of fabulous songs and splendid lines that allow the somewhat convoluted story to prance along, and then there’s Lloyd Webber’s haunting score. The title song “Music of the Night”, “All I Ask of You”, “Think of Me”, “Masquerade” and “Angel of Music” are all familiar and certainly enhance the audience’s experience and enjoyment.
The Phantom (Michael Bates) who lurks beneath the Opera House has fallen in love with Swedish chorus girl Christine Daaé (Ellonye Keniry). He will stop at nothing to see his protégé replace Carlotta (Dione Baker), the opera’s resident soprano prima donna, as the leading lady in the theatre’s productions. The Opera House is haunted by the Opera Ghost and Christine finds herself in the Phantom’s lair amid the catacombs. Meanwhile, her childhood friend, Raoul (Will Daniels), has become patron of the theatre and is determined to save her and unmask the phantom.
While the cast is universally strong, Bates is excellent, making his spirit felt both in song and mannerisms as The Phantom. Daniels also stands out – his admirable voice and stage presence are those of a genuine talent.
Naturally, there are niggles, but it would be churlish to highlight them – except for the minutes when the stage is empty except for scene shifters noticeably caught unaware while Bates and Keniry are mid-song and unfortunately stranded off-stage. This is probably just a first-night mishap and, although jarring, it does not detract from a fine overall performance.
The Phantom of the Opera is quite remarkable.
The Phantom of the Opera, presented by Matt Byrne Media, is at the Arts Theatre until July 13 and the Shedley Theatre in Elizabeth from July 18-27.
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