Originally published on May 28 2008
Today we saw the current Sydney production of Phantom of the Opera. I have seen it quite a few times with various casts, including New York, Melbourne, and several other Sydney productions.
The venue this time around is the Lyric Theatre at the Star City. It is not a venue I like much, I think the venue for previous productions – the Theatre Royal – is better. The Lyric probably holds more in terms of audience, which is probably why it was chosen, but its atmosphere is like a huge shed.
As usual, the sets were gorgeous. However I didn’t like the design of the chandelier, it was ugly and didn’t seem to swing properly or crash well onto the stage. Not sure why they changed the design and appearance but I think it was a mistake. The costumes were fantastic, especially the Masquerade scene which has always been my favourite.
Overall the production was a mixed success. Because it was a matinee we had alternate case for the Phantom (Roy Weissensteiner) and for Christine (Julie Goodwin). Both were quite good, although it would have been lovely to see Anthony Warlow in the role again.. M. Firmin ( John O’May) and M. Andre (Derek Taylor), Carlotta (Andrea Creighton) and Piangi (David Rogers-Smith) were all excellent – those kinds of character roles usually are. Meg (Nadia Komazec) and Mme Giry (Jackie Rees) were good, but suffered the way those roles always seem to – their voices are not strong enough to compete against the others in the septet. Carlotta and Piangi in particular, these roles are usually played by opera singers and they shine in the Letters / Prima Donna number.
Unfortunately Raoul (Alexander Lewis) just had no stage presence. His acting was mediocre and his singing dull. He also seemed too young for the role. Overall he just seemed to be outclassed by the other leads, which was disappointing. I have seen Simon Burke and Michael Ball in this role, so I know it can be a lot more exciting and dynamic than I saw today.
My final comment is on the soundmixing, which seemed to be pretty woeful for the most part. The orchestra was too loud and drowning out the seven singers of Prima Donna. Seven singers with microphones should be heard clearly above the music, particularly a wordy seven part song like Prima Donna, but sadly it was not the case today (except of course Carlotta).
Overall the production was enjoyable. Many of the elements I love about the show were still there, and things like costumes, sets and music make it worthwhile for people interested in those things. It is not a bad production, but there were a few things that made it seem a bit lackluster compared to those I have seen in the past. I’m also curious as to why some of the songs have had their lyrics changed – may have to investigage further.