Saturday, 10 December 2016

West End Review: The Phantom of the Opera

On November 7th I had the pleasure of watching one of my favourite musicals performed live at Her Majesty's Theatre, Haymarket, in London's West End. The Phantom of the Opera starred:

The Phantom: Ben Forster
Christine Daaé: Celinde Shoenmaker
Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny: Nadim Naaman
Carlotta Guidicelli: Lara Martins
Monsieur Firmin: Siôn Lloyd
Monsieur André: Philip Griffiths
Madame Giry: Jacinta Mulcahy
Meg Giry: Daisy Hulbert

In short it was an incredible show but - as always - there are some negatives to go with the positives. As a whole the entire cast was an amazing ensemble, but some did stand out above the rest.

Celinde Shoenmaker was a marvellous soprano and Christine, balancing the character's gentle nature with her deep fire. Her relationship with Daisy Hulbert's Meg was also enchanting; the latter portraying a wonderful part in her own right despite not being the leading actress.

Lara Martins had only just returned to the role of Carlotta, but it seemed as if she'd never been gone. Her stage presence and vocal range were phenomenal, brining a real life to the part.

Nadim Naaman was also phenomenal as Raoul. I'll be honest of never being a Raoul fan, even including Hadley Fraser's 25th Anniversary performance, but Naaman completely changed my view. His Raoul wasn't just confident and protective, but compassionate and powerful. He was a joy to watch.

Mulcahy's Giry was a fine portrayal but in my mind Madame Giry is meant to be a silent power, and this Giry didn't quite exude the control and fear over the ballet girls that I expected.

Forster's Phantom was sadly the most disappointing, though only in parts. I am a huge fan of Erik, and especially of his gentle, passionate ballads. Music of the Night is quite easily my favourite but it seemed Forster just didn't have the vocal range to pull off the ballad completely. Perhaps he was fighting a cold or other illness, I can't be sure, but his voice seemed to crack in places, and at times he was hard to hear. That said, his renditions of Point of No Return and Down Once More gave me chills.

It's quite obvious he's a wonderful singer and actor who can exude power like the flick of a switch, but I don't entirely feel like he has a master of the more gentle ballads that make the Phantom as sympathetic as he is. He has talent indeed - I myself was rooting for him during 'Superstar' - but the range of the Phantom seems just a little out of reach at this time. His portrayal meanwhile was interesting and unique, if not a little too twitchy for my liking.

The sets, costumes and special effects were of course wonderful, really bringing the audience into the story, especially during such ensemble pieces such as Masquerade, and such pivotal moments as the falling chandelier. The direction was exquisite, and it was surprising how many audience members elicited gasps over The Phantom's reveal behind the angel for his reprise of All I Ask of You. Every inch of the theatre was used to entice and entrance, and it was an absolute joy to witness. A solid 4 stars indeed.

Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed my review. Feel free to comment below or on Twitter!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf


  1. Great review! I am a HUGE phan, and my fav performance will always be the 25th anniversary. Ramin & Hadley & Sierra were just incredible <3

  2. Thank you so much! I absolutely love the 25th Anniversary; Ramin will always be my Phantom and I was lucky enough to see him in Murder Ballad the next night! :)