Soul Taking Flight: My Phantom Experience

March 22, 2019 at 11:14 PM | Posted in Lifestyle, Theater | 4 Comments

Is it possible to love something you’ve never seen before? In my case, it is. I became a big fan of musical theater after hearing the soundtracks of some of the world’s best classic plays long before I’ve even seen them. Growing up, I never had the chance to watch any of these classic plays because tickets to these shows were expensive and I couldn’t afford it. So I just contented myself in listening to the soundtrack and watching the film adaptations of these plays. But over the years, it has always been my dream to see the plays myself. I’m talking about beloved plays like Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, and Starlight Express.

Among the classics, Phantom of the Opera is my favorite in terms of story and music. Having read the book from which the play was based on, I was really curious on how the story would translate to the stage.

When there was a world tour of Phantom of the Opera in 2012 and the production came in Manila, I wasn’t able to go and see it. Since then, I’ve regretted not going especially after hearing how spectacular it was. I never thought a world tour of the play would happen again but when I found out last year that there would be an Asian tour and Manila was part of it, I was ecstatic. I said to myself that I would not miss watching it this time. So I bought a ticket very early on last year, picking a seat near the stage for an intimate experience.

And it was all worth it! I watched the play last week and it was fantastic indeed! The costumes were lavish and spectacular, the set design was impressive and the performance was splendid. I was particularly taken by the Phantom’s performance, who was played by Jonathan Roxmouth. He’s every bit the Phantom I loved from the book – manipulative, menacing, maniacal, and arrogant but also had that soft side in him that no one ever saw except Christine. Speaking of Christine Daaé, the character was brought to life by Meghan Picerno, who was equally impressive in her performance as the young and naïve opera singer. I’m particularly impressed by Meghan and Jonathan’s vocal range and the depth they gave in each musical number.

The viscount Raoul was played by Matt Leisy, whose performance was a little dry in the third act. But then again, I’ve always found Raoul’s character to be dry even in the book. He’s just the type who’s too perfect. And I’m usually drawn to flawed characters like Erik the Phantom. Also notable was Beverly Chiat’s performance as Carlotta, the prima donna opera singer. She’s a delight to watch.

Stage view from my seat

In terms of venue, the Theater at Solaire is the host of the Manila leg of the play’s Asian tour this year. It’s my first time to be at the Theater at Solaire and I must say the place is a bit small and cramped. There’s not enough leg room in between seats and the stage is not that big. So it wasn’t able to do proper justice to the chandelier scene in the first act. One of my favorite scenes in the play was the masquerade ball and the entire musical number did not disappoint. But it could have been better if the stage was bigger.

All in all, it was still a memorable experience for me. To be able to see up close and enjoy the live performance including the live orchestra was an experience of a lifetime.

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