Entering the theater, it was already palpable from the the stage alone -- even with the curtains closed -- that this was going to be a spectacular production. We're definitely fortunate that the Phantom is being staged here in Manila not as a local production but as part of an international tour, where nothing is compromised in terms of production value. (I know some local artists are decrying the onslaught of all these foreign acts and productions but hey, if you can come up with something like this, we just might pay to watch you. Give us something worth watching.)
A view of the stage during the break.
I had goosebumps from the Overture alone. As that familiar Phantom theme played and the famous chandelier was lit and slowly suspended in midair, we were also given a glimpse into what a labyrinth the stage was. The late Maria Björnson's set design was truly a masterpiece. I was always in awe at how complicated it was -- what with those multiple ornate set pieces -- and yet at the same time, how seamless the transitions were between the sets. One minute we're at the opera, then in a blink of an eye we're backstage, then we're in Christine's room, then we're in the Phantom's lair, then there was just more and more and more...whew! Precision timing, people!
The underground lake scene, when Christine is whisked away from her room by the Phantom. [Photo source]
The cast was great and their voices, simply flawless. I always have high regard for such singer-actors who perform these demanding live shows nearly every single day and yet still manage to keep their voices in tiptop shape because my voice tires easily that I probably couldn't do a full concert (as if!).
Meanwhile, my Bibe was gushing at how handsome the Phantom was, played by Jonathan Roxmouth. I loved the bit of grit in his voice, which is something I prefer for the role over a perfectly operatic tenor. Not surprisingly, he received the loudest cheers from the crowd at the curtain call.
Jonathan Roxmouth as the Phantom. [Photo source]
Claire Lyon as Christine. [Photo source]
Anthony Downing as Raoul. [Photo source]
Phantom is definitely something you shouldn't miss. Some may balk at the high ticket prices but I tell you that from what I saw, they do have every right to charge such amounts. The show is worth every peso you pay. At a good 2 hours and 35 minutes (with a 20-minute intermission), and with a spectacular production and an excellent ensemble, you won't feel shortchanged at all. We're even contemplating on watching it again. It's that good!
And good news, the musical just seems to keep extending its Manila run! They've just added 16 more shows until October 14. I say go book your tickets now to get good seats. From what I just checked, there's still excellent seat availability on Sept. 18 through 21, and beyond those dates.
Screen shot of seat availability as of 11:08 PM, Sept. 4, 2012.