It was a highly memorable experience and this video recording of the event is an excellent way to relive it. I recall how unusually warm it was in London back in early October 2011: our ‘VIP Experience’ envelopes became makeshift fans (‘phans’, even?) – the Royal Albert Hall did not install an air cooling system until 2016 – and it was one of those pre-show receptions where my glass of wine was topped up repeatedly, and without me asking. There were nibbles galore, too, including tiny buns roughly in the shape of the Albert Hall, and they fed us and fed us (to slightly misquote a famous Welsh hymn) until we wanted no more. In the background, showtunes from a great many productions other than The Phantom of the Opera played through the speakers.
I even recall my irritation at a man in the row in front of me who felt it necessary to point out very loudly to his companion early on in proceedings proper, “That’s the ‘GoCompare’ man!”, referring to Wynne Evans, who played Piangi in this production but is indeed probably more famous for his role as Gio Compario in a series of insurance advertisements on national television. Anyway, this is the video recording that is on sale, held up by ushers, as the audience files out at the end of a performance at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London’s Haymarket, having replaced the 2004 film version that used to be plugged there, for patrons wanting to relive the magical experience all over again at their own leisure having just seen the glorious West End production.
The sound quality is noticeably of excellent quality in the recording – even better than it was sitting in the Hall that night: there is a history of sound issues that the Hall itself will freely admit to, and even answer questions about, should you ever avail yourself of the opportunity in the future of going on one of their Hall Tours. The scenery, even if largely achieved through projections, is brilliant, as is the massive chandelier that practically dominates the top of the stage. The camera work is to a high standard, capturing the closeups and the birds-eye views equally well. It is worth watching to the end, even after the final apt lyric, “It’s over now, the music of the night!” – I won’t spoil it, except to say that the encores (there is more than one) are an added bonus to an already thoroughly enjoyable night.
I’ve said before that I prefer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita to his Phantom, mostly because the former has a far grittier storyline (in my view, anyway). That said, as Lin-Manuel Miranda famously put it, “Love is love is love”, and it is easy to see why Phantom continues to have such a broad and international appeal. The large cast’s voices are in fine form across the solos, duets and big ensemble numbers, all very much full of vibrancy and energy from beginning to end. The trepidation at the Phantom’s (Ramin Karimloo) presence, whether seen or unseen, is palpable, and an orchestra of forty-five is ably conducted by Anthony Inglis.
Whilst some theatrical productions have almost been swallowed up by the relative vastness of the Royal Albert Hall, this one is itself on a grand scale – note, for instance, ‘Masquerade’ at the beginning of the second half, as well as a ballet. Christine (Sierra Boggess) brings the house down with ‘Think of Me’, and then again with ‘Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again’. The hardcore fans are probably still debating the alteration of a lyric or two, and what happens (or doesn’t happen) to the chandelier, but this remains a magnificent and unforgettable celebration of an outstanding long-running musical.
Review by Chris Omaweng
In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, Cameron Mackintosh produced a unique, spectacular staging of the musical on a scale which had never been seen before. Inspired by the original staging by Hal Prince and Gillian Lynne, this lavish, fully-staged production set in the sumptuous Victorian splendour of London’s legendary Royal Albert Hall features a cast and orchestra of over 200, plus some very special guest appearances.
April 17th, 2020
The next show to stream via Universal’s free YouTube channel, ‘The Shows Must Go On’, will be the 25th Anniversary version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, filmed at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011.
The show features Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom and Sierra Boggess as Christine.
As usual, theatre fans will be able to access the show from 7.00pm this Friday 17th April, totally free of charge, however, in the UK the show will only be available via the channel for 24hrs (so a Friday night viewing/Saturday matinee is advised!).
VIEW HERE for free – The Shows Must Go On!
If you would like to own or rent The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall [DVD] (2011)
Book The Phantom of the Opera Tickets for Her Majesty Theatre.