Sunday, August 25, 2019

Pastrana: The triumphant return of The Phantom of the Opera

The page dweller

THE Phantom of the Opera is still here inside my mind as I write this piece. It’s been days since I’ve left the Theater at Solaire in Manila, yet I can still hear the hauntingly beautiful voice of Jonathan Roxmouth, the crash of the Paris Opera House chandelier, and the resonating sound of cheers and applause for the stage actors during the curtain call.

These are memories that I vowed to treasure forever as I sat watching Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera — Broadway’s longest-running musical — last February 26.

I’ve been introduced to the world of the Phantom when I first discovered the internet. I remember falling in love with the musical after listening to Michael Crawford’s version of Music of the Night. I’ve been a “phan” for more than a decade now, and when I’ve learned that the Phantom international tour is returning to the Philippines, I knew I could not let the opportunity to watch pass.

The Phantom of the Opera, based on the novel Le Fantôme de l’opéra by Gaston Leroux, is set in the Paris Opera House in 1881. It revolves around a mysterious masked man known only as the Phantom, a musical genius who becomes obsessed with his protégé, a young soprano named Christine Daaé.

Seated in the second row, right behind the orchestra pit, I marveled at the sheer magnificence of the set. I felt my heart leap as soon as I heard the Overture being played. But when you’re about to see the work of an impresario of musical theater, you kind of expect your heart to leap, break into pieces, and return to your chest feeling whole yet ready to be broken again.

When you’re watching The Phantom of the Opera, the winner of the 1986 Olivier and 1988 Tony Awards for Best Musical, it is impossible not to have goose bumps all over your body. Seeing Clara Verdier as Christine and Matt Leisy as Raoul was phan-tastic. But when Jonathan Roxmouth, as the Phantom, finally started singing, I knew I was definitely in the presence of the Angel of Music. The entire cast delivered performances that rendered that evening truly unforgettable. I could never forget how Roxmouth’s face looked when he finally let the love of his life go and sang “Christine, I looo-aaaa--ove you.” If given the chance, I would watch the show a hundred times more.

The Phantom of the Opera is phenomenal not because of the iconic white half-mask donned by its title character. It has music, lyrics, and characters that contribute to make heartbreak, jealousy, hope, and love truly felt, even within the confines of a dark theater.


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