Tuesday, July 23

The Phantom of the Opera – Brindley Theatre

I have no words! I will try to express to you all the absolute stunning masterpiece that this production is.

The iconic story of a disfigured musical genius, that lives under an opera house in Paris, who is besotted by a talented singer Christine and evokes fear and carries out murderous evil to get his way but whose love is lost as Christine finds love with an old flame, has been an Andrew Lloyd Webber work of genius for nearly 40 years and for the Centenary Theatre Group to have the opportunity to present this phenomenal musical in a local theatre is an opportunity this magnificent company could not resist – and rightly so. The talented cast, whom I have seen in various performances, give every show 100% and constantly show their amazing skills in both singing and dancing at every performance, so, although daunting, would effortlessly and with grace, meet this challenge. I was sure.

As I entered the theatre, I was very impressed by the stunning set of a Parisian Opera House that immediately drew us into the atmosphere of the French city. From the first scene, set in the auction house, where we see the iconic musical monkey that links this story of devotion and rejection, we are witness to the stunning talent of the soprano Carlotta – performed by the astonishing Louise Colohan singing in the dress rehearsal of Hannibal opening with the wonderful “Think of me”, with great support from Piangi (Dan Grimes) and Josef Buquet (Phillip Smallman).

From this, we are on a wonderful journey of incredible dance routines, exquisite costumes, superb choreography and voices that you would hear performing with less talent on a West End stage. Christine (Hannah Phillips) is sublime, with her beautiful voice filling the theatre to the rooftops, soon meets the mysterious phantom as he approaches her through a misty mirror. The phantom, played by Gareth Smith has one of the most amazing voices I have ever heard in all my theatre going years takes Christina through the underground labyrinth whilst singing the amazing “Phantom of the Opera” and “Music of the Night”. I saw this show many years ago in London and this production accomplished these scenes impeccably even to the boat going through the underground lair what a work of art this production was!

Christina meets an old flame Raoul played by the very talented Matthew Corrigan and their love is rekindled much to the despair of the Phantom, who as he feels he is losing his enchantress, sets upon to ensure that Christina and not Carlotta plays the lead in his new opera and sets havoc within the petrified Opera House. In doing this, we are engulfed by the despair and jealousy of this tortured genius, whilst listening to amazing songs and witnessing faultless dancing, this is inspirational work by the show’s director and choreographer Lisa Connor. Scene after scene we are joyfully submerged into the remarkable talent of every singer and dancer – the theatre managers Msr Andre (Peter Brennan) and Msr Firman (Nick Beckwith), Madame Giry (Aimee Clare), the principal ballerina Meg Giry (Rebecca Mainwaring) and each and every one of wonderful dancers – (Cadie Dutton, Chloe Pennington, Danielle Hodgkins. Danielle Segar, Eleanor Jardine. Jessie Scotson, Katie Louise Allen, Kirstie Warren, Kirsten Dunn and Theresa Stephenson).  I cannot express the talent that was on that stage this evening, utterly faultless. The first act ends remarkably, with the chandelier smashing to the floor as the phantom’s rage peeks to a jealous burst of anger and the audience disperse in awe to have a break and to take in this amazing first Act.

Just when I thought things could not get any better, enter the scene of “Masquerade” – with the most stunning and lavish costumes I have ever seen on stage (great work Thespis Theatrical Costumier) with again, magical choreography and singing. The excellent songs continue with Hannah’s rendition of “Wishing you were somehow here again” having both me and my mother in tears.

As the phantom acknowledges with Christine’s kiss, that he cannot hold her captive and needs to free her, to be with her true love Raoul, he leaves the Opera House in peace and the performance climaxes with ballerina Meg Giry holding the phantom’s mask against a stream of light. Wow!!

Never in all the years reviewing shows, attending shows throughout the UK and in seeing both professional and amateur performances – have I ever seen such phenomenal talent on a theatre stage especially on a local theatre stage. 

All those involved in this stunning show should be proud in what has been achieved Lisa Connor director and choreographer you must be so impressed by the unified talent displayed this evening; Dan Grimes assistant director and technical coordinator you too should be so proud, the props were amazing, I loved the lights! Dance captain Katie Louise Allen well done! Company stage manager Paul Downham, great work! Properties manager Steph James and the backstage team Niamh Appleton, Richard Harrison, Michael Linford, Stuart Robinson and Mark Murphy  you people so much deserve recognition of ensuring that this piece of theatre history goes without a blemish.

This story is iconic and has been seen by millions of people across the world, but this production is one of the best performances you will ever see in your life. Go immerse yourself in this world of fantasy, love, denial and heartbreak. See the stunning set, amazing costumes, the faultless dance routines, the 50+ cast, listen to the hypnotic orchestra lead by the very talented and devoted Simon Pickup and to every impeccable voice on that stage.

You may see me there this week – as I have to see this again before it finishes on Saturday, come join me, you’re in for an evening of complete bliss! 

One of the best shows you will ever see! A musical masterpiece! 

Running 15th-18th May 7.30pm (also 2.30pm on Saturday 18th May), https://www.quaytickets.com/thebrindley/

Reviewer: Jan Mellor

Reviewed: 14th May 2024

North West End UK Rating: 5