Towering above the auditorium, the chandelier flashes and cracks and drops down toward the excited and expectant crowd...who jump with a nervous giggle.
Only one production brings about such a reaction and that is Phantom of the Opera, which has returned to Manchester’s Palace Theatre with style.
Lavish sets, imaginative styling a sense of the dramatic ensures that this latest re-invention of this Andrew Lloyd Webber classic musical takes in not just the whole stage, but the entire theatre.
The audience is not just watching, it feels it is participating in the story as Phantom’s unique stage within a stage plot is given added depth with the ingenious use of carefully placed microphones, dry ice and several cast members running around the aisles.
This is complicated stuff. With a revolving stage, steep stairs and a gondola which floats through a cloud of smoke, the wonder comes not just from the unreal setting but amazement that the talented cast do not find themselves jammed between bits of scenery or falling off the balcony. Blinding flashes of flame add to the drama and keep everyone on the edge of their seats.
But more than anything else this is a stunning performance. Katie Hall as Christine Daee is the right mix of naïve and enchanting yet powerful both in voice and character, the perfect foil to John Owen- Jones’ suitably evil yet compelling Phantom who raised the roof and holds audience members in his thrall with his story of unrequited love. Elizabeth Marsh as Madame Giry has a difficult role of keeping the action on stage together, she appears a leader not just in character but probably behind the scenes as well. Also worth a mention isAngela M Caeser who plays the comic Carlotta to perfection.
Incredible. Must See. Phantom plays until May 19.