(Apologies for the lack of pictures, I haven't been able to make any scans from the actual programme yet ...)
I finally got to see Phantom of the Opera in London in June this year, and that was truly a fantastic experience! I have seen it twice before, in Stockholm in 1994, and I was very impressed then – and of course I’ve seen the movie a number of times … but there’s something special about seeing it in London!
We got really great seats, in the third row, and that makes a lot of difference! You come so close to the stage, and you can actually see the actors’ facial expressions, which gives the show even more life! I love the fact that the show is so interactive, what you first think of is the chandelier of course, but there are other things as well – and that becomes even clearer when you’re so close to the stage! Annika had a bit of bad luck, she wanted to see Gareth Snook as Monsieur André, but he was replaced by understudy Craig Nicholls. On the other hand, we did get to see Simon Bailey (who we had seen as Enjolras in Les Misérables in 2006) as Raoul, and that was some consolation to Annika! :)
The show was really fantastic, and I have to say that I enjoyed all the major actors’ performances! That’s not so common, and I truly enjoyed it! I enjoyed both Craig Nicholls as André and Barry James as Firmin (Barry James has also played Monsieur Thénardier in Les Misérables), they did a good job and added some much needed comedy to the show.
Simon Bailey did Raoul, and I have to say he did a marvelous job of it!! I enjoyed him as Enjolras three years ago, but I have to say I liked him even more as Raoul, I felt that was a part that suited him even better!
Christine was also played by an actress we saw in Les Misérables in 2006, namely Gina Beck (who played Cosette). I wasn’t that impressed with her in Les Miz, but I always have a hard time with the character of Cosette, so I’m never sure if it’s the character or the actress I’m not so happy with. Well, seeing Gina Beck in Phantom helped with realizing it’s the character in Les Miz I have difficulties with, because she was absolutely outstanding as Christine in Phantom!! I doubt whether anyone could have done it better, I was very very impressed with her. On a few occasion I found her voice to be a little too sharp, but on the whole, she was fantastic – and she and Simon Bailey played really well together!
The Phantom was played by Ramin Karimloo, a true celebrity in the musical world, but someone I had never seen before. He was supposed to play Anatolj in the Chess concert I saw in Oslo in 2006, but was replaced by David Shannon. I really enjoyed his performance, though at some points I found him a bit uneven. That meant that some parts of his performance were really great and others didn’t feel quite so good. On the whole though, a very good Phantom!
I’m very happy to have seen Phantom of the Opera in London – I liked it a lot when I saw the Stockholm production and it is a fantastic musical. And that makes it very special to have seen it in West End, and with such a talented cast!! However, I think I might be growing up a little, as I don’t think I’d pay that much money to see it again! There’s one thing with Les Misérables, that is a musical I can never ever see enough of, it has got something very, very special, but at least it seems I might be able to move on from other musicals now! :)