Bernie pic

Bernie pic

Saturday, 14 December 2013


The Phantom of the Opera, RMT Company,
review by Bernie Dowling 15/12/2013

Robert Shearer and Anna Stephens

THE Redcliffe Musical Theatre (RMT) production of The Phantom of the Opera is a triumph.
The gorgeous sets, costumes, dancing and sound swallow the relatively small stage of Redcliffe Cultural Centre.
But the back-of-house people – director Madeleine Johns, technical director Bruce Noy, staging co-ordinator Jonathon Johns, musical director Sheree Drummond and choreographer Courtney Hill – craft the production to fit the stage, hand-in-opera glove.
Choreographer Courtney Underhill

The magnificent ensemble of crew and cast was seen to spectacular effect, perhaps no more so than in the second-act show-stopping song and dance, Masquerade.
The leads were uniformly excellent.
What mutual good fortune for RMT to discover 18-year-old Anna Stephens for the female lead, Christine. Stephens has a strong soprano voice, lithe stage movements and dramatic range to render a great performance.
Tenor Robert Shearer stalks the stage as The Phantom with feline movements of grace, sorrow and rage. His Music of the Night scene is exquisite.

Nathan Kneen is Raoul

Former Ten Tenor Nathan Kneen as Raoul is dashing, charming and romantic with hints of deviousness.
Meg Kiddle (Carlotta) and Antony Beadle (Piangi) are wonderful on stage together as the accomplished opera singers, divas and comic foils.
Barbara Williams as Madam Giry has an appealing voice and wonderful diction as she guides us through the plot and back story.
Lauren Innis-Youren is a delight as the immensely appealing Meg Giry.

Director Madeleine Johns

The plot and style of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera are outrageous.
It is basically Beauty and the Beast/King Kong meets Dr Faustus with side dishes of Sigmund Freud, vaudeville and Hammer horror films.

King Kong meets Faust

It evolved in 1986 as a herald of emerging post-modernism and celebrated its 10,000th performance on October 23, 2010.
It was only this year, 2013, that it was licensed for amateur performance.
Australian amateur companies quickly seized the script.
CLOC Musical Theatre staged the world amateur premier in May 2013 at the National Theatre in Melbourne. In June, Windmill Theatre Company staged the production at the Drum Theatre in Dandenong. Over in New Zealand, Wellington Musical Theatre debuted the New Zealand premier in June 2013.

Be prepared to be surprised
The voice over before the Redcliffe Musical Theatre performance was unintentionally ironic in the perfect sense of the word.
The unseen announcer warned the audience the show would have surprises, including pyrotechnical ones.
The warning was a delightful response to the modern phenomena of workplace health and safety and addiction to litigation.

Roger Waters unhappy
Roger Waters of Pink Floyd is not inclined to litigate over the Phantom. But he insists Lloyd Webber ripped off the signature descending/ascending half-tone chord progression in the Phantom's title song from the Pink Floyd 1971 number Echoes.

Rascally Roger

You gotta love irascible Rogers’ justification for not suing, ‘Life's too long to bother with suing Andrew fucking Lloyd Webber.’
“Life’s too long” probably refers to interminable litigation.
Instead Waters got his pound of flesh by adding a lyric to his acerbic song It's a Miracle:

Lloyd Webber's awful stuff
Runs for years and years and years
An earthquake hits the theatre
But the operetta lingers
Then the piano lid comes down
And breaks his fucking fingers.
It's a miracle!"

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