Having taken a very well deserved winter break, Three Phantoms stormed back to Chichester for a final three shows before bidding farewell until the next concert in 2013.
Set in the beautiful Oaklands Park, Chichester Festival Theatre is a modern venue (well, 1960s still counts as modern, right?) with a rather interesting geometric layout in which the seating is arranged around the stage.
“The Opera Ghost really existed…”
In the last year, Three Phantoms have played to an incredible 16,000 people across 11 venues. Opening the show with the compelling ‘This is the Moment’, from Frank Wildhorn’s Jekyll and Hyde, this would be a concert never to be forgotten. The 21 piece Concert Philharmonic Orchestra was again conducted by the incredibly energetic Anthony Gabrielle who seems to embody everything for which conductors are famous.
Let me set the context for you. Imagine receiving a text at 07:00 on Friday morning (with the concert only a mere 12 hours away), from 1/3 of the principle cast, Matthew Cammelle, saying “Earl can you call me, I’ve lost my voice”. At the last minute, Earl made the decision to go all out, and replace Matt with not one, but TWO Phantoms; the incredibly talented Glyn Kerslake and Simon Bowman, who originated the role of Chris in Miss Saigon. With this in mind, it is not surprising that there had been a number of changes in this production from previous occasions, but also in the printed running order. In a great show of good humour, on the Friday night Matt even came on stage to prove in fact, he could not speak (much to the entertainment of the other Phantoms!).
Combined with Rohan Tickell (who recently having left the role of Piangi in Phantom is now currently performing in Rock of Ages), Earl Carpenter (the current Phantom at Her Majesty’s Theatre) and the original Cosette; the superb Rebecca Caine, you could scarcely count the stars in their multitudes (…sorry, bad pun).
Interspersed with hilarious tales of theatrical mishaps, Earl made for the perfect host who showed great prowess with comic timing (not to mention an excellent Frank Spencer impression) making it impossible to single out just one highlight of the evening.
In an extremely funny (we’re talking side-splittingly funny here) show with a beautiful line up of numbers, it is hard to imagine that it was only put together that day. Needless to say, they were all true professionals which just goes to show: the show must go on! Rohan especially received a thunderous applause and roaring laughter for his extremely enthusiastic re-enactment of a particular final lair scene, complete with slow motion effects.
It is not just Andrew Lloyd Webber’s interpretation of Gaston Leroux’s Le Fantôme de l’Opera which is celebrated in this incredible gala concert. There have been a number of other interpretations, a few of which were also performed (‘Ken Hill’s Phantom of the Opera’, ‘Phantom: The American Musical Sensation’ and ‘Faust’), providing an eclectic and educational mix of musical theatre and opera.
As well as Phantom, all of the performers have also been involved in another phenomenal musical, Les Misérables. Simon Bowman sang ‘Bring Him Home’ with such tenderness that it was utterly heartbreaking. Even without a sleeping Marius at his feet, he more than proved why this man has received such critical acclaim in his career. Bridging the gap between musicals and opera, Rebecca Caine has a remarkably warm, sumptuous and rich voice. She is the quintessential Christine, and the perfect counterpart for Earl in the duet ‘A Heart Full of Love’, a role which I am delighted to have heard him sing (as it was originally billed for Matthew Cammelle).
I’m all Alone (Spamalot) was an absolute treat, and I am very glad they decided to keep this in the show as it went down with a tremendous reception. The new song ‘Race You to the Top of the Morning’ from The Secret Garden was added for Earl, which was whimsical and mesmerizing in just the right quantities, not to mention when combined with his deep and powerful voice, earned him one very loud applause early on in Act 1.
There was a change to the running order of the show as ‘Love Changes Everything’ was replaced by ‘Pretty Lady’ as in the 2011 concerts. I was a little disappointed that the billed ‘Devil Take the Hindmost’ was not performed; however, this is completely understandable if one-half of the duet could barely whisper.
Three Phantoms is an intelligent, insightful and exciting peek into a few of musical theatre’s most well-known (and some lesser known) productions, with an emphasis on the two shows that have brought this incredible cast together. It is, quite simply, my favorite gala concert and I would urge you to go and see it when this show returns in 2013.
Updated 16th September 2016