Yes ladies and gentlemen, I am here to post my review of the month, as once again my year group travel across the country, (well...to Manchester) in pursuit of superb live, theatrical entertainment, which would stick with us long enough for us to remember, and write about in moderate detail in our drama exams. A brilliant motive. So, on the 30th of April (it's the first of July as I'm writing this. Has this year flown or what guys?) I grabbed my pen, and notepad, and ventured down to school, to hop on a mini bus with my fellow drama loving peers, ready to embark on a journey to the cascading city of Manchester, to watch Andrew Lloyd Weber’s hit musical The Phantom of The Opera. Somehow, I felt the superb history of this play, and it's classical compositions, and renowned success worldwide was lost on my friends, as I heard constant complaints of "Why aren't we going to see Shrek? I know most of the lines to that! WHERE'S THAT DONKEY?" and "We should be seeing Legally Blonde, now that's a character I could totally, like relate to." Sometimes I wonder ladies and gentlemen. I really do.
We parked a short while from the stunning Palace theatre. I'm afraid that grandeur was lost upon me, as it was in fact the Manchester Derby, and I found myself running down the streets in fear of my life at one point, due to me shouting my allegiance to Liverpool Football club in front of a set of Manchester United fans. Whoops. We made our way into the theatre, huge pictures of white masks on posters everywhere, you know, in case we forgot what we were here to see. We took our seats and the darkness fell, and the show began. Before I continue, I should perhaps explain what the story is about.
The story is set in Paris, in the haunted structures of the opera house. Most of the play takes place in the late nineteenth century. The story evolves around young Christine, a dancer, who takes singing lessons from someone only known as "the angel of music". Lies. He isn't really an angel as he goes about scaring the living day lights out of everyone, dropping sandbags on people's head and murdering staff and so on for most of the play. Misguided naming folks. Anyway, Christine gains a lead role on one of the operas plays when the lead quits and her beautiful singing voice gains the attention of Raoul, Christine's childhood friend. But the angel ( the phantom guys. Keep up. ) has already become obsessed with her. That's the gist of it without too many spoilers.
The lights were down and it seemed we were in the early 20th century at the start. The stage was dark, with cobwebs seemingly covering it. An auction appeared to be happening, selling items from the Opera House. An old man bought a beautiful music box, with what looked like a figure on the top of it. As cute as it was, it wasn't really a gripping start, until lot, 666 (yes ladies and gentlemen. 666) appeared. It was lowered from the ceiling, and suddenly, the cover fell, and a huge sparkling chandelier appeared! With it, booming, haunting music, blasting to me the theme of the phantom, there were lights shining everywhere, the light bulbs on the chandelier flashing, the stage changing! It was wild!
Once I'd recovered enough I was completely gripped from that point onwards really. The music was stunning throughout the piece, in particular, Music of the Night and All I Ask of You. The acting was superb, and the production in itself was flawless. It was a love story of the highest passion...without being sappy. It was a horror story...without the blood and guts. It was a mystery that continued to linger after the end of production, particularly due to the ending, where the broken, devastated Phantom disappeared completely with just a twirl of his cloak, leaving only his mask behind. Who said magic isn't real? (Me actually. I spent the next two hours thinking of all the ways they could have done it.) There was one flaw however. They sang every word. Now, if you are a fourteen year old child, who preferably wanted to see Shrek or Legally Blonde, you are not generally inclined to understand the words of opera. Therefore, for some, the whole play made no sense and might as well have been in pig Latin. As I came out of the theatre, tears steaming down my face at the beauty I had just witnessed, I was welcomed to a set of voices chorusing "Someone explain what happened. What in the name of heck were they going on about?" and "Were they speaking English?!?" I sighed inwardly.
Then I wondered, why had this play been going for so long? Why is it so popular? It may be a love story, but it's hardly the stereotypical chick flick, such as the ongoing masterpiece that is Twilight. Actually, I think that's the point. This is a love story, a horror, a mystery, for the adult population I believe. Because it shows all the things that go with love, which are never mentioned in the teen flicks. Insanity, betrayal, hatred, loneliness, obsession. Forget werewolves and kids with bows and arrows or vampires, here we have just a man who lost his mind due to unfortunate events. A man who wanted a companion. That, is a character most people can relate to I suppose. So I say this is a play, for the older generation, but that's just my opinion. If you go to see it, keep an open mind when regarding the characters. That’s all I ask of you.