Let me start by saying I have loved the Phantom since I was a teenager. I used to listen to it all the time and was later was lucky enough to see it live at the Sydney Opera House and even now, I’ve got it on my iTunes and will happily walk to work listening to it, or blast it while enjoying a glass of vino in the evening.
When I heard the show was returning to Auckland, I was beyond stoked, but also wary—would it be as good as I remembered? Could anyone actually compare to Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford?
But I digress, it’s not about me, right? Last night I, along with a couple thousand others, went along to The Civic for the opening night of The Phantom. Was it everything I had hoped for? Short answer: yes.
The Phantom of the Opera is based on the novel by Parisian author, Gaston Leroux, and tells the story of a series of strange events at The Paris Opera House during the 1880s. The show begins with an auction of unusual items, including the remains of a chandelier that then rises to the ceiling and we’re transported back in time to when the opera company is rehearsing for a new show. A backdrop collapses and the lead, Carlotta, storms out.
Cue the opportunity for Christine, played by Barbara Graham, to take her place. And she does it in spades. With a voice that (literally) brought tears to my eyes, Barbara takes on Christine’s character with passionate vulnerability and beauty. Sarah who?
The story reveals that Christine has been taking singing lessons from a mystery tutor and so enters the Phantom. Played by Chris Crowe, this incredibly disturbed and tortured soul engenders empathy and revulsion as he sends ruthless letters, commits murder and dominates the opera company yet suffers because of his disfigurement. He is surely one of the most difficult characters to play, but Chris Crowe embodies him so powerfully with his air, his voice and his acting that it sent chills down my spine.
When Chris and Barbara performed Music of the Night, I was crying so hard it was embarrassing. The poor man next to me was kind though, saying he thought it was ‘cute’… before asking if I had brought tissues for the second half.
I had, but didn’t need them because I kept my emotions in check.
Ultimately, the night was a music and visual feast of costumes, sets, music and actors that will not disappoint. In fact, the only disappointment you’ll feel is if you miss out, so get your tickets before it’s too late.
What: The Phantom of the Opera
Where: The Civic
When: February 11th—March 5th
Tickets: Buy them here.
Looking for more great things to do in Auckland? Here are 50 Things You Should Have Done If You Live In Auckland