The Phantom of the Opera (1986 musical) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Over 20 years ago, Grumpy and I had the most wonderful experience sponsored by Clark Sinks Australia of flying business class to Sydney, staying at the Regent hotel overlooking the Sydney Opera House and excellent tickets to see the Phantom of the Opera and the Regal Theatre with Marina Prior and Rob Guest, we had 3 days in Sydney and as we had nothing to do after checkout and the time of our flight was early evening, went to the airport and was upgraded to 1st class home to Perth.
The whole weekend was nothing short of magical.
So when Grumpy asked me if I was interested in going to see the Phantom, I said yes please, he was listening to the radio when he heard them giving away free tickets, he knew that I loved the Phantom and would jump at the chance.
So he went on line and booked 2 tickets, printed them out and we were going.
He booked the tickets for Friday, which was the middle week of the show. We had to ensure that we left work on time as the traffic has been quite banked up lately especially since the Freeway works have started.
We were ½ an hour late leaving the office which didn’t help with the traffic, made it home with enough time for him to go over to the home (I forgot to mention, both Grumpy’s mum and dad are now in the Care Facility across the road from us, so we have our house and lives back again) for a quick visit and have a little snack, shower and change ready for our trip on the train into the city.
We left Mandurah train station at 3.45pm on the train got into the city and walked to the train to take us to Subiaco, and wouldn’t you believe it, the trains were not running that evening after 7:00pm so we would have to bus it. No big deal, we would deal with that after the show.
We got on the second train and on the second stop got off at Subiaco, Rockeby Road at 5:10pm and walked up the street (it was COLD, luckily we wore jackets) and realised we had a couple of hours before the show started. We looked around to see where we could go and have a drink for a while, most of the shops and cafes were closed or closing their doors, so we went to the Llama Bara & Grill and had a few drinks Grumpy had a couple of beers and a very costly, strong horrible smelling scotch on ice and I had a couple of cups of minute (if they were any smaller they would be called thimbles) coffee and a flat (they took so long to bring it, it lost all its bubbles) lemon squash. We ordered some wagyu beef sliders (mini – tiny hamburgers) for supper, they were divine actually and presented very artfully.
The bar started filling up with patrons both inside and outside in the freezing cold (the idiot smokers, I don’t get it, they stand outside shivering to buggery and smoke instead of being inside in the warmth) and the excitement was growing, some of the patrons had Phantom of the Opera T-shirts on they were either part of the troupe or excited fans, like me.
It was time to go across to the theatre, we went upstairs to find that we couldn’t get in to sit down until 7:30 only 5 minutes before the show was due to start. We sat next to a family that had come on the train from Secret Harbour and we discussed that fact that we had seen the show in Sydney, but they topped me, they had seen in twice, once in London and another time in Sydney, so we all had something to compare with.
It’s now more than 20 years since we saw the show the first time, we have come a long way in that time, so we expected something magical.
I will say, before I start my tirade that the music and vocals were spectacular, I especially loved the phantom, his makeup when he took his mask off from where we were sitting was fantastic, the actors / singers and dancers provided us with a show that if you listened to the show from backstage you could find no fault.
What we got, however, from an audience, was a complete disappointment, the props, I believe were completely lacking. When the props were being changed, the girls with their long blonde hair, kept walking in front of the cream curtains so you could see everything that they were doing instead of behind the curtains, they would move a prop onto the stage and walk off in front of the curtain. The props were very amateurish and certainly for this type of international show would have expected a great deal more.
The gondolier, when it came on to the stage was only half a boat and it was clearly visible where they stopped the black lining of the boat and you could see the chipboard on the inside of the boat.
The costumes were the most disappointing of all, there was very little colour in the whole production, most of the troupe wore black.
The cast going to the opera all wore black dresses (what is it with colour with the set and costume designer of this production) and the only scrap of colour were the jewellery that they wore.
For a masquerade ball one would expect colour, colour and more colour, dresses, masks and jewellery, however in this production, the costume designer chose black skirts & tops for all of the women (some of the troupe were larger or plus size women and when they lifted their hands when they were dancing, you could see their midriff), not dresses, all the same with black masks for the women and the men wore black jackets and pants with grey cravats.
Christine the lead female was also a plus size woman, she thankfully had a blue skirt and top on, and when she lifted her arms, you could see her stomach.
Even the ballet dancers wore bland colours with little slithers of fabric added for different scenes, there was ample time for clothing changes as there were times during the production where the stage was completely empty, music playing songs sung, but an empty stage, it would have been better to have dancers rather than an empty stage.
The chandelier was a disappointment, in that when it was lifted, there was a beaded thread hanging down, which showed in my opinion lack of care and maintenance, why not cut the dangling thread off.
In the second act, there were 3 characters that did come out in colourful costumes, they were the saving grace of colour for the production.
Would I go and see the same production again, not in this lifetime,
Would I recommend the show, with the costuming and props as they stand, no
Was the ticket price worth the show, definitely not,
Am I glad I went, yes just to hear the music again.
What would I have done to make a difference,
Colourful dresses and masks for the women, colourful jackets, trousers, cravats and masks for the men
I would have added more and colourful touches to the props
I would have watched the production from an audience perspective to see what we see, that way the problems that I raised would have been dealt with before the show went public.