By Jude Cartalaba
Manila, Philippines, October 11, 2012 - All good things must come to an end: after Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, David Atkins Enterprises, Hi-Definition Radio Inc., and Concertus Manila's latest import, Andrew Lloyd Webber's mega musical "The Phantom of the Opera," made a big stir in town, these theater producers - who also brought "Cats," "Mamma Mia!" and "Stomp" to the country - have to finally drop the final curtain on "The Phantom…" on Sunday, October 14 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines' (CCP) main theater. Tickets are sold out.
But what exactly is mesmerizing about this 25-year-old musical, which Webber based on the 1911 novel written by French journalist Gaston Leroux?
27-year-old avid theatergoer Maria Lozada shared her thoughts about the show, "The technical aspects alone and it being staged at the CCP got me excited."
"The actor that played the Phantom [South African theater actor Jonathan Roxmouth] was great; his performance was very similar to Ramin Karimloo [the original star of 'The Phantom…'s ' sequel 'Love Never Dies']," said Lozada.
Plotwise, the musical's story entrances and endears the audience; Filipinos can easily identify with the show's soap opera-like drama, and the love triangle between the young ingénue Christine Daaé (played by Australian soprano Claire Lyon), and her two admirers: Daaé's childhood friend Raoul (played by South African theater actor, dancer, and musician Anthony Downing), and Daaé's mysterious mentor, the Phantom.
Lyon, who is playing the role of Christine for the second time (her first was in the Australian production of "Love Never Dies" though) has the most exquisite voice, which provides her character with just the right blend of vulnerability, passion, and tragedy, according to James Cundall, CEO of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions.
Another stunning sight to behold in this international touring production of "The Phantom…" is the scenic and costume design of the late production designer Maria Björnson: her costumes and set pieces include more than 230 elaborate Victorian-era costumes; the infamous one-ton chandelier; the Phantom's subterranean gondola; the giant elephant in the "Hannibal" opera scene; and the sweeping grand staircase inside the Paris Opera House - collectively setting the standard for a breathtaking musical spectacle.
But perhaps the most important thing that Filipinos should take pride in this staging of the international hit musical is the participation of 14 Filipino musicians in the show's multi-racial orchestra, including keyboard player Mary Ann Espina, violinist Denise Santos, and percussionist Daniel Bartolome.
Photos by Jory Rivera