There are times during Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, when everything falls neatly into place. Take, for example, when the Phantom first escorts Christine to his secret lair. It's one of the cheesiest musical moments of all time, but it sure is impressive. Probably because there are only two people on stage.
Indeed, the amount of work that goes into a scene involving a steep stairway, a gondola, revolving sets, and a big old pretentious rock number, shows. In a good way. But again, there are only two voices to wrap your ears around and in a musical that leaves very little room for any kind of spoken dialogue, this is something of a mild relief. For it's when the cast get down at the masquerade ball, or discuss the severity of a series of threatening notes, that everything becomes a little hard to take.
This is the longest-running Broadway show ever. So, at this stage -- 26 years after it originally made its West End debut -- you can expect a stylish and meticulously-crafted production. But the faults have been there since day one, namely, the songs (long and overbearing) and the story (silly and one-dimensional). Thankfully, where Lloyd Webber's insistence on filling each and every moment with melody fails, the striking presentation succeeds.
The Phantom (John Owen-Jones) is, of course, the bane of the Paris Opera House. He is a gifted, yet tortured -- and deformed -- genius. Or, as some people know him, the "Angel of Music". Everyone at the theatre abides by his rules. But when he falls for singer Christine Daae (Katie Hall), everything turns sour. The rest is rather ridiculous, but at least there are plenty of scares and special effects to keep us entertained.
Overall, the show is far from perfect, but it's easy to see why people keep coming back for more. Running until August 4.