Entertainment :: Theatre

The Phantom Of The Opera - Live At Royal Albert Hall

by Kevin Taft
Contributor
Tuesday Feb 7, 2012
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Twenty five years after its debut, Andrew Lloyd Weber’s now-classic musical "Phantom of the Opera" gets a splashy release on Blu ray/DVD. Staged at the legendary Royal Albert Hall in London on October 2, 2011 (and streamed into theatres across the world), the "Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall" is the quintessential production of Weber’s most famous musical. I saw the original production three days after it opened on Broadway back in 1986 and fell in love. I never saw it again, until I had to review a spectacularly bad touring show last year that left a bad taste in my mouth and made me question my taste in musical theatre.

Thankfully, the Royal Albert Hall production is a gorgeously mounted show that features one of the best casts since Crawford and Brightman. Because the Royal Albert Hall is not an actual theatre, an entire stage had to be constructed in order to house the show. And because of the tight space and lack of wing-space, it became apparent to the show’s designers that many of the set pieces would need to be created via LED screens. At first, this seems to be a cheap cop-out, but aside from some close-ups that make the pixels of the LED noticeable in the background, long shots are pretty darn gorgeous and give the set a surprisingly grand feel.

The leads are played by the stunningly beautiful Sierra Boggess and the gorgeous Ramin Karimloo, both 2011 nominees for Best Actor/Actress for Lloyd Weber’s West End production of "Love Never Dies" - the sequel to "Phantom." Boasting amazing voices and the acting chops to pull off every melodramatic moment, they were the perfect choices for this filmed production.

The 25th Anniversay show also includes appearances by Lloyd Weber, original Phantom Michael Crawford, and original Christine Sarah Brightman who graces the audience with the title song backed by five previous Phantoms.

Tech credits are spectacular, and aside from a few dubbing boo-boos, it looks and sounds amazing on Blu-ray. The only drawback is the noticeable lack of extras. There is a trailer for "Love Never Dies" which will be released on May 29th on Blu-ray, and a 17 minute making-of doc on this staging. Other than that, there is no retrospective on the musical’s enduring history which would have been apropos here.

Regardless, this is a terrific addition to any theatre-lovers collection and a production that honors the legacy of "Phantom."

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL
Blu-ray
$39.98 srp
www.universalstudiosentertainment.com

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to ’Star Wars’ and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg. He can be seen in the flesh on the weekly PBS movie review series "Just Seen It."

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