Entertainment · reviews

Catching the Phantom of the Opera [Review]

I was a kid when I first heard “All I ask of You.” My tita played it on the piano one day and I was tasked to turn the page for her and for every year this was played during family gatherings. I had not yet taken piano lessons then so I thought it was difficult to play. But when we took up classical piano, one of the very first pieces I wanted to learn was All I ask of You, followed by the rest of the Phantom pieces. I’ve the loved the song and have been playing it on the piano since.

Last night, my usual partner in crime Meryll and I went to CCP to catch the Phantom of the Opera showing at Nicanor Abelardo Theater. I had to see this so I booked our tickets a week ago after learning of its extension until Oct. 14.

And I had high expectations for this musical. Admittedly, I had never gone to see this on broadway until last night, so I had no comparisons whatsoever from previous broadways. But I couldn’t help comparing this one to the recent movie that came out which starred Emmy Rossum. To my fan-dom sensibilities, it was perfection.

The Good

The Phantom –  Well of course the play focuses on him, so there’s much pressure to really do justice to the character. And Jonathan Roxmouth does that beautifully. When he came out and sang the Phantom of the Opera with Christine, I was floored! And then Music Of the Night. His voice was powerful and yet there was vulnerability to it. The thing about broadways, especially when you’re far from them and unable to see their faces, is that you rely mostly on the expressions found in their singing. He sang with depth. He had soul. When he’s mad, his song was mad. When he’s hurt, his delivery is grieving and sorrowful and sad. Many times during the play I was on the verge of tears. Of course the only reason I didn’t let the tears fall was that I didn’t want to ruin my make up. Lol. But he sang beautifully and powerfully. You almost want to root for him despite being the bad, misunderstood guy. One word: GOOSEBUMPS. Every time he sang, I had “goosies.”

Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny – In the movie, Raoul who was played by Patrick Wilson, was criticized as lacking. Between the two male leads, he was less stellar and actually lacked the vocal prowess. In this play, I’m happy to note that Anthony Downing had a powerful delivery. I did want him to become more intense especially during that rooftop scene where he and Christine sang All I ask of you. But he was good.

Props, stage setting – Fantastic! I heard that the original chandelier was brought in to Manila for this play. I loved especially the boat scene leading to the Phantom’s secret hideaway. I loved the effects, the eerie feel and because I’m not so keen on these details, I’m just so amazed at how props are put up in a span of a few seconds.

Costume – there was a moment during the play when the whole crowd sighed in unison during the Masquerade Ball. When the curtains fell and the actors were on stage about to sing Masquerade, the entire theater went “awwww.” MARVELOUS! The elaborate costumes felt like I was transported to their actual ball.

“Boracay” – when the old owner of the theater left it to Monsieur Richard Firmin and Monsieur Gilles André, he tells us WHY it’s more FUN in the Philippines. :D

The Not-so-good

Christine Daaé – this was perhaps my biggest letdown for this play. And to say that is to say that the soul of the film was actually lacking. I told Meryll that perhaps I’m just influenced by the film because in the movie, Emmy Rossum rose to stellar performance. She was angelic, pure, VULNERABLE, the kind that the character actually needed. Because Christine really is not that strong a character, even in the book. That is why she keeps being lured by the Phantom. In the movie, that was established. She longs for her father, she needed guidance, she was a lost soul searching for her light. And she was scared. Yes, I think it’s easier to capture the emotions in movies because we see their faces up close. With the play, however, especially for those who are far away from the stage, we really rely on the delivery of the song to give us the emotions of the character. And Claire Lyon, to be frank, is good. But she wasn’t the Christine I imagined to be. There was no vulnerability in her until the part where she was being encouraged to act in the Phantom’s play (Point of No return). Her voice was strong, crisp and powerful, but something about it needed to be vulnerable, angelic and pure. If we rely on their delivery of the songs to tell us what they feel, then she fails at this because all throughout she was monotonous, sometimes even flat (as in, just lacking emotions). So I was disappointed with Christine.

Madame Giry – Again, in the movie, she was stern, strict and frightening. Here, her authority seems forced and she didn’t really stand out for her character.

Chemistry between Christine and Raoul – Unfortunately, they didn’t have it. The Phantom and Christine had more connection, which I’m led to think is because of the powerful acting and singing of Jonathan Roxmouth. I wanted the rooftop scene to be more intense and assuring, because they were after all assuring each other of their love. But the highlight of that scene was when the Phantom appears after they have left, and he sang, “He was meant to love you when he heard you sing.” And then he cursed them both. Chills.

Overall, I enjoyed Phantom of the Opera. I did want Christine to be more vulnerable, because there’s already no denying technically that Clair Lyon is a great singer. To me, I just wanted her to express her emotions more so that we hear her angry, confused, lonely, happy, and finally forgiving.

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