To say that I was excited to watch Phantom of the Opera in Manila is an understatement. I was ecstatic when I learned that I will actually be able to do so, thanks to Hannah, Vince of When in Manila and guys from Ticketworld (Gab and Chewy!). It was actually a writing assignment for When in Manila (read all about it here).
Anyway, I was at the CCP area around 6:00pm while the show that day would start at 8:00pm. How excited was I ? Actually, I did not want to get caught in traffic and I wanted a parking space. Also, I was anticipating rain that day and I did not want to be late because as theatre goers know, one will have to wait until the first few numbers of the musical are done before being allowed to be let in.
If you have not seen the movie yet, or have no idea as what the story of the Phantom of the Opera is about, it is basically about unrequited love. A man whose face was hidden behind a mask, referred by the Paris Opera House as the Phantom falls into a mad infatuation towards a young singer named Christine. The captivating genius dedicated himself to mentoring Christine as well as secretly hoped to win her love. Raoul, Christine’s childhood friend and lover, came into the picture which caused the Phantom to destroy both the show he was mentoring Christine for and the Opera House.
As the longest running Broadway musical and shown to over 140 cities in the world, it is no surprise that this musical has something to brag about. And indeed they were able to show the Manila audience why they deserve to still run after so many years.
- The amazing cast. From the voices to the movement and the acting, the entire cast was amazing in delivering their numbers. Jonathan Roxmouth who plays the Phantom did a wonderful job. His voice was mesmerizing and haunting, perfect for that portrayal of his ghost-like role. Claire Lyon, who plays Christine Daaé, has that crystal clear voice both when speaking and singing. Not to mention commendable acting of course. My favourite is Andrea Creighton who played the role of Carlotta Guidicelle also known as the Opera Diva. Those pipes were very powerful, I do not even know where she gets her moment to grasp for some air when singing.
- The sets, costumes and the transitions. To say that the design, props and costumes were great is an understatement. One of the strongest suit of this musical is that they were able to satisfy the audience’s visual appetite. The sets were elaborate and creative. The costumes were detailed and grand. My favourite? The transitions. I was amazed at how fast the backdrop would change as if it was magic. It was seamless. And the timing? Spot on.
- Effects, sounds and lighting. Expect some disappearing act, traveling voices and a bit of fireworks. I was enchanted by everything on the boat scene, but most especially because everything seemed floating and very romantic. Also, watch out for the much talked about chandelier scene, it was pretty cool and I am glad it was executed well.
- The orchestra. Great timing, great music and a great way to pay tribute to the amazing Andrew Lloyd Webber.
I recommend bringing a hanky during the musical if you are one big crybaby (like myself, eeep!). I was gone from the Music of the Night number although I think that others will find the whole of Act 2 intense. Better be prepared. Let me run down the following scenes which are my favourite. Skip this bulleted part if you want to be kept in the dark until you watch the show.
- Phantom and Christine’s scenes.
- The chemistry of the Phantom and Christine was undeniable so watching them in different scenes was a delight. My favourite was the boat scene when the Music of the Night number was performed. The chemistry between the Phantom and Christine was so evident, I was so engrossed, I realized I was not even blinking as much. And the lyrics in the song was felt every word in the way they sang and acted not mentioning what seemed to be thousands of candles floating. It was truly great.
- The number Phantom of the Opera. As the Phantom and Christine were making their way down the stairs, the light was focused only to them and everything else was dark. It was magical and I am amazed on the execution. It seemed the production created several flights of stairs out of thin air, well done.
- Raoul and Christine’s rooftop scene. This was when All I Ask of You was sung. Aside from the song of course, the romantic backdrop Paris in what seemed to be the early 20th century was a feast for the eyes. I love the two actors’ rapport as well. Warning, you will feel the need to hug the Phantom after this scene.
- Christine’s solo numbers. Both Think of Me and Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again were heartfelt.
- The Masquerade. This was such a fun number. Colors, lights, people. It was a party on stage and everyone was in-sync.
The Phantom of the Opera in Manila is indeed one of the best I have watched. The script contained a few comedic lines that offered a break from the strong emotions other scenes have. Aside from all praises to the actors, orchestra members, production team and the rest of the crew, I commend the Lunchbox Theatrical Productions Limited who gambled to bring this grandiose musical over here in Manila. I am proud that we can pull off such a huge production in the country. There’s no need to go to West End or Broadway because theatre is alive in Manila.
Whether you are a theatre newbie or an enthusiast, watching Phantom of the Opera at least once is a must. If you are an avid fan of the theatre, I am sure you will love this because it is, after all, watching theatre about creating theatre! What’s not to love? And if you are a newbie, since some songs made it to the mainstream, I would not even question it and I say buy your tickets right away. Let the Phantom haunt you the way he did with Christine. I promise you a great perspective on how to love and a Phantom hangover that will last a week.