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Theatre Review (Singapore): ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ by Andrew Lloyd Webber

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Base Entertainment presents the long-running Broadway and West End hit The Phantom of the Opera at the Marina Bay Sands Theatre from the July 16 to September 1, 2013.

The Phantom of the Opera is a musical about a disfigured Phantom (Brad Little) who lives underneath the Paris Opera House and who is both mesmerized and obsessed with the beautiful ingenue opera singer Christine (Claire Lyon). Eager to make her the star of the opera, the Phantom gives her private lessons in stealth and leaves threatening notes to the rest of the cast and producers urging them to cast Christine in future productions. However, as his plans to make Christine the star are becoming clear, she falls in love with another man instead.

Phantom is filled with haunting songs with strong, alluring melodies, such as “All I Ask of You” and “Music of the Night”. Skillfully and expressively sung by Little and Lyon, they are a delight to hear again even though I’ve seen the show twice before.

Mr. Little in particular captures the emotions – both deranged and sad – of the Phantom perfectly, injecting them so securely and fittingly into the lyrics he sings that for the two hours, he completely embodies the character he’s played over 2,000 times in both heart and soul.

Lyon has a sweet but powerful voice and when she hits those high notes with her strong soprano voice, you feel as the Phantom does about Christine – this is a talented performer destined for greatness.

A minor fault with the production on the Gala Night was the sound system, which seemed a bit off, so that many times the characters, whether singing or talking, came across as too soft. Also, in the last scene, Little went a little over the top with gesturing, which made him look a bit comical.

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However, these minor drawbacks are negligible, given the many stunning sets made up of opulent stairways, textured curtains, and of course that well-known baroque chandelier. At one point an underground pathway turns into a bridge over a river – a river over which the Phantom maneuvers a gondola. The costumes too are detailed, eye-catching and beautiful, especially in the scene where all of the characters appear at a masquerade (appropriately singing the song “Masquerade”) wearing brightly coloured outfits.

The Phantom of the Opera might be a bit passe in light of emerging musicals that are livelier with catchier upbeat tunes. However, it is very evident to me that there is still something endearing about Phantom‘s mystical and melancholic melodies when I caught one of the theatre patrons, who had spent much of the production thumbing through Facebook and Instagram on her phone, singing one of the songs as she was leaving. And that’s enough of a sign that even in today’s world, the Phantom can still get inside your head.

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About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

Ex-professor, Ex-phd student, current freelance critic, writer and filmmaker.