February 5, 2012

Filthy Review - The Phantom of the Opera Live at the Royal Albert Hall

The Phantom of the Opera Live at the Royal Albert Hall (2011)

Review by Jude Felton

One of the world’s most beloved stage musicals, The Phantom of the Opera celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. First taking the stage in 1986, the Andrew Lloyd Webber extravaganza has run and run. Taking its inspiration from the classic novel Le Fantome de L’Opera by Gaston Leroux the story has had many incarnations on film, most notably the 1925 movie with Lon Chaney. This however is a celebration of the musical, and on October 2nd 2011, in London’s famous Royal Albert Hall, this version of the musical took place.

Now, I cannot, and will not, claim to be an expert on this particular musical. I do remember Sarah Brightman’s rendition of the title track from when I was a wee youngster and the fact that none other than Frank Spencer aka Michael Crawford played opposite Brightman as her Phantom. I did also see the recent Joel Schumacher movie, but seeing that did not prepare me for the spectacle that this performance brought to the screen.

The plot focuses on the Paris Opera House, where lurking beneath hides the Phantom. He hides away dues to his hideous disfigurement and acts as a ghost to all that perform there. He does however take young singer Christine under his wing, and helps train her, which in turn begins a tragic love story.

Love story or not, the Phantom of the Opera is a story, and show, that is rooted in the world of horror. This is old school classic horror, although there was at least one instance when my wife let out an audible gasp of air during one of the show’s death scenes.

To the show and performance itself then, and what a spectacle it is. I may be new to the world of Blu-ray but I will tell you that this looks and sounds absolutely stunning. The picture is crystal clear perfection and the sound, even on my television, was incredible. Add in to the fact that the stage show was superb and you have yourselves almost three hours of audio-visual perfection. I was honestly amazed at how good this was. Sure, the picture is that good that you can see the wire that holds on the Phantom’s mask, but that is just being picky. Purists may also complain that the famed chandelier drop at the end of Act 1 does not happen. Maybe this is due to the venue? Regardless, I can’t imagine that this will take away any enjoyment you get from watching it.

The entire cast, which is huge, is captivating to watch, especially Sierra Bogess as Christine and Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom. Their chemistry is there for all to see and their performances will have you mesmerized. I can only imagine how many production crew members were working behind the scenes to help bring this show to life.

If you have only seen the movie version of this musical I suggest you check this out, as it is in a different class completely. If you are already a fan then I guess you will already be picking this up. Wherever you stand on musicals this truly is something special, and I recommend you grab a copy, sit back and enjoy the specatacle.

The Phantom of the Opera Live at the Royal Albert Hall is available from Universal Studios Home Entertainment on Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand on February 7th.

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