REVIEW: The Phantom of the Opera

ON SONG: The Phantom of the Opera performed at the TSB Showplace in New Plymouth. Carlotta Guidicelli played by June Dams.
ON SONG: The Phantom of the Opera performed at the TSB Showplace in New Plymouth. Carlotta Guidicelli played by June Dams.

It cost the New Plymouth Operatic Society more than $600,000 to put The Phantom of the Opera on at the TSB Showplace - it was worth every cent.

The opening night audience gave it a prolonged standing ovation at curtain call.  

This is a big show in so many ways - not just budget-wise. It has a team of 200 on and off stage, the talent of the performers is immense, the spectacular scenery is massive, the stunning costuming bold and colourful, the stage effects explosive, the music incredibly loud and it all results in huge audience approval. Congratulations to director Warren Bates and his team.

Don't expect many quiet moments in this show. In fact some may find it too loud!  From the opening bars the music hits you like a wonderful, thunderous assault. The vibrancy of the live orchestra ensures the songs resound throughout the theatre. Melody after melody soar to the highest peaks of our Showplace with a brilliance that leaves you gasping. As several performers sing simultaneously, you experience the most astounding accumulation of beautiful notes. This is all aided by a superb sound system.

I admit I was initially disappointed that the leads in this Operatic Society show were not cast with just Taranaki talent. But within minutes of the musical opening I quickly appreciated the decision that had been made.  The main characters' performances are absolutely commanding.  Their unassailable strengths meld  this production together.

As Chris Crowe (The Phantom), Toni Gibson (Christine), Bevan Williams (Raoul) and June Dams (Carlotta) reach notes of unbelievable heights, and dive up and down musical scales with apparent ease, you are constantly amazed time and time again. Their talent and professionalism are brilliant. You can almost hear the crackle of passion and emotion in the air as they perform. 

The audience also revel in the cameo characters portrayed by John Ainsworth alongside Jeff Poole, Liz Deacle, Anthony Joines, Rowena Suthon, Brian Clark and Niall Corbett. They too perform with high quality finesse. 

As with any New Plymouth Operatic production, you delight in recognising familiar faces.  However, when it comes to singling out this wonderful local talent the fact is, there are just too many to list. 

It shows that that this is indeed another Taranaki production to be proud of. However, it has the calibre and standard of any London West End show but it's right on our doorstep. Make sure you don't miss it. 

The Phantom of the Opera continues until July 26. Let the magic of the night stir your imagination and unfurl its splendour. 

Taranaki Daily News