I finally watched The Phantom of the Opera in a Theatre

Finally, I watched Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera live in a theatre.

It started some time back, when my younger brother loaned me a DVD of The Phantom of the Opera movie.

Sometime last year, I stumbled upon the 25th Anniversary The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall Blu-Ray at a local shopping mall. I bought the disc almost immediately.

Before I realized it, I was captivated in front of the TV screen for the next three hours

When I got to know that The Phantom of the Opera was coming to Singapore at Grand Theatre of MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands, I bought the tickets immediately. The Phantom was played by Brad Little and Christine was played by Claire Lyon.

I must admit, I was not that willing to part too much of my money (which I regretted later), and not really experienced in choosing seats. I purchased the first row of the second cheapest tickets. Only available tickets in the next higher tier were just a row in front. I thought that the visual will not have much different with just a row apart. Only when I got sited, I realized that it was the first row of the upper deck. There was a safety bar in front of me. If I lean back, my vision would be block. So I ended up watching the whole musical leaning forward. From my position, I could see that last row from the next tier had so much better view. Anyway, I learnt a lesson.

I could not help but to compare the three versions which I watched.

The movie version was remarkable in term of the computer graphic effect, especially the rising of the chandelier. It really brought us back to the theatre in 1881 Paris. I also found it make more logical sense on the timing of the falling chandelier. At the same time, it took away some of the mysteries of The Phantom. I was a bit disappointed that the Phantom was not that ugly as expected when he was unmasked.

I personally found that the vocal in the movie was not as good as the theatre versions, in Blu-Ray or live. Some of the stage magic could not be duplicated in the movie. Example was Christine could appear to change three very different looking costumes without actually leaving the stage.

The 25th Anniversary disc was almost as good as being there. On top of that, the camera zoomed in in a number of occasions, and this allowed us to watch the actors’ and actress’ expression. We could feel their emotions. The use of the LEDs and having the orchestras above the stage complimented the performance. On the other hand, the over use of the LEDs somehow at the same time limited the wow factor in the stage magic.

It was nothing compared to watching the performance live. Of course, we could not expect the large cast in a regular show compared to the special edition like the 25th Anniversary. But I think it was already sufficient to woo the audience. Without the LEDs, I could see the wonders of the stage magic. There was the rising and falling of the chandelier (absence in the 25th Anniversary). There was the transformation of the stage from the old ruined look to a new look. There were sudden appearances of The Phantom in the various occasions (e.g. during the “All I Ask of You (Reprise)” and “Why So Silent?”).

Sitting at the high up at the upper deck did have some advantages. I could see how the disappearing and re-appearing of The Phantom being done in ending of “Why So Silent?”.

Overall, the three versions of The Phantom of the Opera gave me much enjoyment. I would like the live viewing best, provided that I could get much better seating. If I do have a chance to visit New York or London, and it is still playing there, I think I will be catching the show again there.

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