At a time when we are missing our regular theatre visits and our rehearsal time, we find that the arts is constantly evolving to entertain us all in these dark times. From families finding music with their children and performing in their living rooms and posting on Facebook to artistes giving free daily concerts on YouTube. Before a child can speak it will dance - Music has the power to lift our spirits and souls and the Arts; that are so often marginalised; once again prove that the joy and language is universal.

The Phantom of the Opera was adapted from the novel by Gaston Leroux by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe and was produced by Cameron Mackintosh. This version was directed by Nick Morris with stage direction by Laurence Connor. Choreography by Gillian Lynne.

‘The Show Must Go On’ is a free platform on YouTube on which Andrew Lloyd Webber releases a musical production at regular intervals to satisfy the ones amongst us who crave a musical fix. And today’s was one of the best known and loved, The Phantom of the Opera. It is recognised as the highest grossing and most financially successful show of all time. I first saw The Phantom of the Opera live in its opening week in 1986 with Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman and I have seen the musical many times since this. I have though, never seen Sierra Boggess as Christine Daaé and Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom in the lead roles and in a word, I was mesmerised, what a wonderful surprise! The production has real heart and oozes class, what a stellar performance by the whole cast. – really top notch!

Canadian born Karimloo injects real emotion into the role of the Phantom showing with his stunning vocal both the victim and the vengeful perpetrator. This Phantom really paints the tormented soul and commands the audience to empathise. Vocally, this performance is terrific and like his acting it never is overdone or becomes exaggerated. The chemistry between Karimloo and Boggess to almost tangible at times. Without any hesitation and unequivocally that Sierra Boggess is the best Christine I have ever seen. From her soaring vocal to her physical performance that encapsulates perfectly the innocence and the sexuality of Christine, Boggess is mesmerising, she really does have the voice of an angel. From the first Aria through to the powerfully acted ‘Past the Point of No Return’, Boggess has the audience in the palm of her hand. Maybe because as this is televised, close up shots enhance her eyes and every emotion, in fact the whole story is told through them – very impressive.

The supporting performance by Hadley Fraser as Raoul brings a new dimension to the character, no longer a slightly non-descript somewhat weak character, Fraser adds strength, passion and real energy to the role. His battle for Christine’s love is a match for the Phantom and in the two characters strength we see anew Christine’s innocence and despair. The beautiful duet with Christine ‘All I ask of you’ is very sincere and has great impact.

The staging and scenery is spectacular and the video wall adds to the original production, although I did miss the lighting coming up through the floor in the scene that the Phantom takes Christine to his lair for the first time. The moving bridge is very effective. Some of the original visual tricks were missing from this production include the chandelier crashing onto the stage but the cast more than made up for these. The costumes are as always are exquisitely elaborate, at the opening of Act two the flamboyant ‘Masquerade’ is visually sumptuous.

Nothing beats the atmosphere of live theatre, but this production gets very close, impressive and immersing. A spectacle to behold and don’t forget……. As is now normal with ‘Anniversary’ shows, past cast members are given the stage to sing together in a big celebratory finale. Do not turn off without watching this… from Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford to the amazing sound of to name a couple, Mr. John Owen Jones and the best phantom ever (in my opinion) the amazing Mr Colm Wilkinson.

You can catch the show on YouTube until 7pm today (18th April) if you are quick.

Reviewer: Tracey Bell

Reviewed: 17th April 2020

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★