With more than 10 years in between since the last production of The Phantom of the Opera (POTO) in Singapore, I was really anticipating the coming of POTO this March. Press releases by Lunchbox Productions were raving about it, riding on the fame of Andrew Lloyd Webber and the “triumphant return” to our sunny island. Of course, it does help in ticket sales when they proclaimed that two Broadway stars were going to be involved in it.
To use a cliché for a clichéd performance (since when are all timeless acts not clichéd?), I waited with abated breath. I was due to attend POTO’s full-dress rehearsal on the 22rd March 8 p.m. For this, I have to thank Dean and the Esplanade Youth Committee for it. They were generous enough to bring in 20 guests and I was thick-skinned enough to ask for an invite. Haha. So Skye, I watched it for free!
The musical started around 15 minutes late but I had no complaints. I settled myself into one of the Cat A/B seats, that is, those Circle 1 seats I believe. On a side note, the seats weren’t that comfortable.
So back to the Circle: it gave a great overall view of the stage but poor view for details. It simply doesn’t do justice to the stage designer. If you had looked at POTO’s pamphlet, you would know what I mean. The devil’s in the details! I couldn’t even see how Phantom looked like when he was unmasked.
The musical started off slow, like a gentle giant waking up. It was a mammoth. Such was the expectations it carries, over 20 years of tradition and performance, over $645 million grossed in Broadway. What new twist could POTO Singapore give? Would Erik be finally united with Christine? All these questions would send the POTO purists baying for blood but still they careened and bounced off my head.
As claimed by the Really Useful Group™, it was really breathtaking. “Let the spectacle astound you!” they say. And they did not really fail. Candles rose out of the stage when the Phantom was rowing his boat with Christine in it. The dungeon was magnificently constructed, the shadows giving it an eerie and menacing look. The dances were splendid, replete with colourful costumes and upbeat songs. In short, the stage and costume design was perfect. I could have sworn that the stage and costume designer were purring away backstage.
And this is where my opinion detours from everyone who gave kudos to the musical. One thing stood out over everything else: I could see that the cast was hampered, restricted by the dimensions of the stage. It wasn’t so big that they couldn’t bring an elephant (the one where two stagehands were drinking in it) on it but neither was it big enough to capture the grandeur of POTO. As a musical that places so much emphasis on spectacle over plot (come to think of it, which musical doesn’t), the relationship between the success of the spectacle and the dimensions of the stage is linked directly I would say.
I would be awed if only the grand stairs at the Masquerade scene was big enough to accommodate everyone during the Masquerade act. The song is one of my favourites and what makes it successful is the rush, the flow, the carnivalesque-ness of the scene. It should be big enough to swallow every single actor, dwarfing their individualities yet small enough to depict the unity of those on stage, as if they were one with a common purpose: to hide behind their masks. Sadly during that sequence, the number of actors on stage failed to convey the pomposity of the scene. It was good but it didn’t hit the mark.
But of course, the limitations were set upon them when they first chose to come to Singapore and perform. I have no inkling whether they modified the stage such that it became smaller in dimensions, but I do know that the small stage doesn’t do justice to the grandeur of the musical. It just spurs me all the more to travel to Broadway.
By the way, this cast currently in Singapore seems to be the same one from the Hongkong production.
Running time 23 March – 20 May
Matinee shows – 2pm
Evening shows – 8pm
TICKET PRICE (Exclude Booking Fee)
Standard (Fri & Sat Eve 8pm)
– S$160, S$135, S$110, S$85
VIP Box – S$180
(Tues-Thurs, Sun Eve 8pm)
(Sat & Sun Matinee 2pm)
– S$145, S$120, S$95, S$70
VIP Box – S$160
Student – S$50
For further details, please go to Sistic’s webpage here.
Technorati: personal, blogging, phantom of the opera singapore, phantom of the opera, musicals, plays, esplanade, esplanade youth committee, esplanade youths, phantom of the opera review, musical reviews, really useful group, andrew lloyd webber