For almost 40 years The Phantom of the Opera has haunted stages around the world. This timeless phenomenon has been wowing audiences in Sydney recently, and Melbourne is lucky enough to have the spectacular show take centre stage at our iconic Arts Centre. My plus one and I were invited to see the show which has just announced an extended season until February 18, 2023.
Cameron Mackintosh’s dazzling revamp of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s legendary show is a gloriously gothic fantasia of power, passion, and pathos. As one of the most successful musicals of all time, you’re almost guaranteed to recognise some of the hit songs even if this is your first time seeing the story which has been told in TV, films and many stage adaptions. The thrilling score includes the stunning romance of ‘Music of the Night’, ‘Think of Me’ and ‘All I Ask of You’ to the splendid ‘Masquerade’ and brilliant title song which still gives me shivers.
Overseen by Cameron Mackintosh and Matthew Bourne, the new staging includes many special effects, from the famous chandelier drop, impossible moving stairs and even the iconic underground lake. Combining this with a large cast and lush orchestra, we knew we were in for a spectacular night. For those unaware of the story, The Phantom of the Opera haunts the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera House. He’s man and mystery, a deformed genius and incredible inventor. He’s found his angel of music: the young woman he would make a star. But how many lives will he sacrifice to make the music of the night?
The production is lavish with incredible stage design that kept us wondering what would appear next. With only subtle costume tweaks on the late Maria Björnson’s original sketches the new production retains its old-world charm. My plus one and I watched on as a dangerous love triangle unfolds above, below, backstage and during the ‘opera within an opera’. The gothic staircase leading down into the Phantom’s dark lair is replaced by one that seems to appear magically out of a wall. One step after another appears in a wonderfully clever stage effect that creates a distinct air of danger.
The menacing sound of the infamous organ riff captivates our attention. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score is intoxicating. It’s the electrifying marriage of a 27-piece symphony orchestra together with rippling waves of sound that creates a musical force for soaring love duets, fantastical ballroom tunes, and gothic horror tones that impressed us to no end.
For anyone who has somehow managed to avoid seeing The Phantom of the Opera in any stage or film incarnation, this Melbourne production will be an unforgettable moment by which to measure all future theatre experiences. For everyone else, there is little, if anything, to disappoint as the show remains undeniably enthralling and triumphant as ever.
– The Plus Ones
The Phantom of the Opera runs for approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes (including one short interval) and plays at The Arts Centre Melbourne until the 18 February 2022. Buy tickets here.
The venue is accessible.