Wednesday, 19 March 2014

PHANTOM OF THE OPERA University Production

Nottingham Arts Theatre until Saturday 22 March 2014

Tis the story of the theatre phantom who falls for the beautiful opera singer, Christine Daae, his love turns to obsession and holds the theatre staff to ransom until they do as he says so that he gets the girl, but because he loves her so much, he then lets her go to be with the one she really loves, Raoul. Yes it's the age old love triangle, Phantom falls in love, Phantom wins the girl, girl falls in love with non Phantom, and Phantom loses girl.

That's the story in a nutshell but a nutshell that earned Sir Lloyd-Webber a pretty packet and a few more hit songs under his belt. Memorable songs like "The Music Of The Night", "All I Ask Of You", "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again", "Think Of Me" as well as the dramatic title song.

This is a wonderful production and the work that has gone into producing it really shows. From the scenery, special effects, the brilliantly creative lighting, the brilliant orchestra, and the sound, to the actors that pull it all together on stage, it's a joy to behold. Some of the singing was, in parts, a little pitchy but this was opening night so you can forgive a few first night jitters. I've seen professional actors pitchier than this in totally professional productions, and let's remember these are University students, not professional singers and actors.

"Phantom" is typical of Lloyd Webber's writing. The songs are complex and not at all easy to sing, although when sung well sound simplistic, which was what we heard at the Arts Theatre.

Our "Phantom" was played by Simon Kale who captivated the audience and held them in his hand, exuding fear and control but at the same time making you feel sorry and pity for the disfigurement he carried around with him, never knowing what love was until Christine came along. Simon comes from an operatic background; his father is also a trained opera singer so it's in the genes. He stood tall and demanded his audience's attention with his enigmatic stage presence.

Christine was played by Lizzie Jerjian, and what a voice she has, tender yet powerful, allowing the audience to believe that she really did have feelings for the Phantom, but all the time wanting Raoul. Lizzie was lovely to look at and lovely to listen to as well.

So many excellent voices and that goes for Andrew Bond who was Catherine's Mr Right, Raoul, perfect pitch and you can forget Cliff and Sarah Brightman's duet of "All I Ask Of You" when you hear Andrew and Lizzie sing this gorgeous ballad.

And every musical, whether it be opera or straight musical has it's comedy elements and "Phantom" is no different with Carlotta and Ubaldo, played subtly comedic by Bethany Lamb and Greg Link, who at the curtain call received almost as loud applause as the Phantom himself! Oh and they also had amazingly powerful voices to boot.

There's no weak link in this production and is as close to a professional show as you can get. Great entertainment, powerful voices, brilliant acting, suspense, comedy, come on what more can you ask for? And I feel that if whatever these students are studying for, if their chosen careers don't come off, I think that they could easy work treading the boards in musical theatre.

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