On Thursday the 16th of January I had my first Phantom trip of the year (and 8th trip to Phantom overall) – hopefully, there’ll be many more! This performance was amazing, this show remains my favourite show of all time. I was sitting right behind the conductor which made it extra special – especially during the closing moments of Act 1! I adore everything about this musical – the clothes, the sets, the score and most importantly the cast! Speaking of which, lets dive in!!
Playing the man in the mask was Aussie, Josh Piterman. Josh is making his West End debut in Phantom which if you have seen his performance is pretty amazing! I first saw Josh three weeks into his run and enjoyed his performance but this time his performance was perfect! Exactly how you imagine the Phantom to be! At heart, the Phantom is a big child with heightened abandonment issues…whilst I’m team Raoul, my heart goes out to him so much during Josh’s portrayal! I love Josh’s version of Music of the Night so much! His voice is so mesmerizing during it, you can understand why Christine falls for him! During the Final Lair, he is so creepy and menacing, especially when he was sitting on the Phantoms throne laughing at the distress Christine and Raoul were in; whilst I know the ending I was unsure if Christine and Raoul were going to make it out! Josh’s vocals have hints of Ramin Karimloo’s Phantom yet is so distinctive in his own way! His performance of the line “it’s over now, the music of the night” left me with goosebumps all over my body – it was really something special! Overall I really enjoyed Josh’s performance, he has grown into this role so well! I hope I can get back there again soon! Josh was also incredibly nice at the stage door! Gave me a big hug – which was amazing and he had proper conversations with everyone waiting! Such a nice guy!
Next, we have Kelly Mathieson who is the principal Christine Daae. This was the third time I have seen Kelly and I think I like her Christine a bit more each time I see her. Her Christine is more timid than Amy Manford’s which I think works well opposite Danny’s Raoul. I adore Kelly’s performance of Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again; her version of Wishing at West End Live back in 2018 was what got me into Phantom so hearing her sing it live holds a special place in my heart. I think Kelly and Josh knowing each other before Josh got the part worked well in softer moments between the Phantom and Christine, such as the song Stranger Than You Dreamt It and during a couple of moments during the Final Lair. Kelly also worked really well opposite Danny playing Raoul as his Raoul is more protective, so her being on the timider side works really well. Kelly has an amazing voice, especially during Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again but one of my favourite Christine moments with Kelly is that you can really see the click where Christine has decided she’s not going to put up with all that the Phantom is doing and where she decides to take back control of her life and be a strong woman – it’s a really powerful moment and you feel so proud of her. Overall I’m really glad I got to see her again!
Moving on we have Danny Whitehead as Raoul. I LOVE his portrayal! If you don’t know Danny got promoted from understudy to principal! I saw him as the understudy back in April 2019 (you can read that review here: https://mollypondersmusicals.com/2019/04/18/phantom-of-the-opera-12-04-19/) and was blown away by his performance so I was thrilled that he got promoted to the principal! His voice is SO strong that I was able to hear it in parts where it can sometimes get hidden such as during Notes. I’ve said it before but his performance always reminds me of Hadley Frasers from the 25th Anniversary at the Royal Albert Hall – another Raoul I adore. I would love to hear him sing “Why Does She Love Me” – Raoul’s solo from the sequel Love Never Dies as Raoul doesn’t get a solo within Phantom which is the only real fault I have with Phantom 😂. His Raoul is so protective of Christine especially during the Rooftop scenes where they sing All I Ask (Of You), it was one of my favourite moments during this performance… He was also super protective during Wandering Child when the Phantom is threatening Christine. I said this last time but during Final Lair, he was amazing at acting like he was being hung (I know…it sounds odd but if you have seen his performance you’ll understand) but he was still giving it 100% even though he was in the background and eyes were mainly on Christine and The Phantom. Overall I am so proud of him for getting this promotion and hope I can witness his Raoul many more times!
Following on from the main three we have Britt Lenting as Carlotta and Paul Ettore Tabone as Piangi. This was my first time seeing them play opposite each other and it was great! This was my second time seeing Britt as Carlotta and I felt it had gotten much stronger than the last time I saw her (3 weeks into her run) – she was a full Diva, not too comedic but not too serious either. Her strong suit in this role was her great facial expressions which were filled with side-eyes and moody faces when Carlotta wasn’t getting her way which I loved! Alongside Britt, we have Paul as Piangi…I love Paul in this role! He makes me laugh every time…I wish we could have more Piangi content because I love Paul’s performance and would love to see more of him on stage!! I always enjoy his Hannibal entrance – it’s a great way to open the show. Overall I love these two together they worked really really well!
Next, we have Georgia Ware and Sophie Caton as the mother-daughter duo of Meg and Madame Giry, this was my 5th time seeing Georgia as Meg and I still love it as much as I did the first time. She has such a sweet voice which is showcased in her duet with Kelly’s Christine called Angel of Music. Meg, in general, is really supportive of Christine but it shines through in Georgia’s portrayal. Playing Meg’s mum Madame Giry was the 1st Cover Sophie Caton, this was my first time seeing Sophie in this role and I really enjoyed it! Like Jacinta, she is also great at playing the strict ballet mistress role. I really enjoyed her storytelling in the scene where confronts her after the Phantom gatecrashes the Masquerade party, I thought she got it across really well; I also loved how protective she was over both Meg and Christine she was. Overall I loved this duo and I hope I get to see them both perform in these roles again!
Following on we have Ross Dawes and Richard Woodford as Monsieur Firmin and Monsieur Andre. I loved how well these two worked together, right from the start I knew they were going to be a great pairing! I always love Notes/Prima Donna but their performance was great!! Had the humour that you always expect from Firmin and Andre without it being too overbearing; it had me smiling throughout the song. I wish we could have a spin-off with all their adventures because it would be really fun to watch! Overall I really enjoyed these two, they worked really well together and made me smile throughout!
Lastly, I want to mention James Butcher who was on for the Ballet Boy for the shows that day. He can dance so so well! Which is showcased in the Hannibal performance at the start and then the Il Muto ballet scene near the end of the first act. If you know the show you know that something bad happens during the ballet, during the freakout that happens on stage, I noticed James’ character trying to get the ballet girls to safety which I found really sweet!
Overall this was one of the best performances of Phantom I have seen in a while! Everything was perfect! The entire cast was incredible! As I said I was sitting behind the conductor which really added to the performance – especially like I said at the end of Act 1! During Masquerade we had a treat as the super rare ‘Hula Girl’ costume was on the stage! It’s super rare to see so I enjoyed seeing it! I ADORED these seats you could see all of the amazing details of the costumes and you could hear all of their natural voices as well! But by far was all the eye contact that you got from the cast during the bows which made it extra special! I hope I get the chance to return to this amazing piece of art again soon!!
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