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Finally a full staging of my favourite musical and the second longest
running one in the U.K is here for the first time on DVD. This live
production filmed straight from the iconic Royal Albert Hall in London,
which was broadcasted to cinemas and theatres around the world and
celebrates 25 years of the Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical, is nothing
short of a lavish treat for the eyes and ears, with amazing
performances and acting from the cast, including all the songs that
fans of the show will know and remember.
The 25th Anniversary production stars the amazingly talented Iranian born Canadian Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom and American Broadway star Sierra Boggess as Christine Daae, with a great supporting performance from Hadley Fraser as Christine's love interest Raoul. Karimloo and Boggess incidentally are no strangers to the characters, having played them previously in the London production of the sequel to this show 'Love Never Dies'. Their chemistry on stage is perfect as are their performances.
Ramin is terrific as the Phantom and injects emotion and passion into the show playing the phantom as essentially a victim, with a voice that at times can be vengeful and deadly, yet soft and vulnerable at others. His delivery of the 'insolent boy' line near the beginning strikes fear right around the Albert Hall. I would even go as far to say that he is the best Phantom that I've watched so far, having previously experienced others on stage live and unfortunately the terrible 2004 movie version starring Gerard Butler. His acting is great without being over the top, and you really feel for the character. Sierra Bogges is also amazing displaying sensitivity, vulnerability and sexuality all throughout the show. Her performance of 'past of the point no return' being a particular highlight. The two leads work very well together and make the show believable.
There are also good supporting performances too. Hadley Fraser's Raoul is dynamic and energetic without becoming too irritating and makes quite a good match against the Phantom in the battle for Christine's heart. Wendy Ferguson and Wynne (Go Compare) Evans are very funny as the diva Carlotta and Piangi, the two Italian opera supremos who are the subjects of Phantom's rage and eventually driven to obedience. Equally as funny and memorable are the opera house managers Firmin and Andre, played brilliantly by Barry James and Gareth Snook, who camp it up and provide some additional comedy.
The staging and scenery is spectacular, with the doomed chandelier hanging above the audience and the on stage sets, especially the bridge leading to the Phantom's lair, featuring prominently. Due to the venue they had to make a very slight change to the chandelier scene at the end of the first part of the show, but it isn't a big deal and still has a great impact in my opinion.
The show is pretty much identical to that of the theatre version that one may see in London's West End or anywhere else it may be on. Some lines were changed ever so slightly but nothing noticeable or significant. The performances throughout will leave you astounded and definitely not disappointed. In fact there are simply no scenes or performances that can be criticised. If you are a fan of the show you will love this and not be disappointed.
As in usual 'anniversary style', like the Les Miserables 25th concert, they bring back all the old Phantom's and stars who have performed over the years in various productions. Including Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman. Andrew Lloyd-Webber also makes a speech about the show and it's legacy.
So now finally you can watch the show like you were in the theatre itself whenever you want. One advantage this production has over seeing it live is that you get to see all the facial expressions and emotions up close, thereby really getting a feel for the show almost like a movie in some parts (but definitely much better than the actual movie).
We all know that the "Phantom of the Opera" is by far one of the best
known and best loved musicals of the past years. It is quite amazing to
learn that this year is already the 25th year of this acclaimed piece
of musical theater based on the novel by Gaston Leroux. The beautiful
music was by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with most of the lyrics by Charles
Hart, and produced by Cameron Macintosh. It debuted in the West End in
London in 1986. Phantom is recognized as the highest-grossing
entertainment event of all time and the most financially successful
theatrical show in history.
Last week, it was suddenly announced that the special 25th Anniversary performance held at the Royal Albert Hall last October 2-3, 2011 was actually going to be shown in local theaters! I knew that my wife and I had to see it again. This morning, I was surprised to learn that this will be a 3 hour and 41 minute movie. This caused problems in our schedule but we still decided to push through and watch. An opportunity to watch a theater event such as this on the big screen was indeed rare.
As we entered, we found out the reason for the very long running time. Before the show proper, there was first a short documentary about Phantom by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. Here we got to hear how the idea of doing Phantom came about, and meet the original London production crew. This lasted about 15 minutes. After which there were ads announcing the sale of DVDs of this event come March next year. I guess we still have to wait that long to get an original copy of this special. Then there was about another 5 minute pause (as if waiting for the audience to fill up) before the show itself actually began. I see that this film was going to approximate a real theater presentation. Unfortunately, this also included a real 20 minute Intermission after Act 1. The theater (we watched in SM Megamall) actually paused the movie for the whole 20 minutes! So be warned.
The Phantom was played by Ramin Karimloo, while his ingénue Christine Daae was played by Sierra Boggess. I knew these were the same actors who played these same characters in the short-lived sequel of Phantom called "Love Never Dies." Ms. Boggess was beautiful as Christine channeling both innocence and sensuousness. Her soprano was flawless even in the most challenging and punishing notes in "Think of Me," "Phantom of the Opera," and "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again." As the Phantom, Mr. Karimloo has got that X-factor that makes the role dangerous yet riveting and sympathetic. His voice can navigate the highs and lows that makes Mr. Lloyd Webber a musical sadist. It can be strong, yet tender and also menacing. His "Music of the Night" and "Point of No Return" were fantastic!
The supporting performances were also very strong. Hadley Fraser cuts a dashing figure as Raoul. His featured duet with Christine, "All I Ask of You," was very well sung. Kiera Duffy makes a hilarious Madame Carlotta even as she also hit those unbelievable high notes, in songs like "Primadonna." Liz Robertson makes a very imposing Madame Giry with her severe black gown always in sharp contrast with the very bright colors of the costumes around her. Everything was so expertly staged: the dancing, the costumes, the set pieces, the make-up, the video backgrounds, were all so rich, elaborate and detailed. The camera work and direction was also very effective in conveying the drama, danger and romance of the story.
After the last scene where Meg Giry holds up the Phantom's mask after he vanishes, there was a very long curtain call. The whole stage was filled with actors and dancers. It was a very emotional moment. However, after the three main characters made their bows, it was not yet over. Sir Andrew himself took center stage and thanked the audience and his crew, present and past. Then he introduced the man who played the first Phantom, Michael Crawford! Finally he brought out his "Angel of Music", Ms. Sarah Brightman (who was looking very hefty indeed nowadays).
The surprise did not end there, Ms. Brightman obliged to sing! Of course, she sang "Phantom of the Opera." I would not say it was her best because her breathing was audible, but she could still hit those killer notes at the end. Another surprise was when it was the Phantom's turn to sing, four actors who played the Phantom before came out on stage to sing with Ms. Brightman. Of the four, I recognized two: Colm Wilkinson (Jean Valjean from Les Miz) and the fantastic Anthony Warlow! The other guy was John Owen Jones (the current Phantom in London). The youngest guy of the four Phantoms, Peter Joback (upcoming Phantom in the 2012 run in London), had a rather thin and nasal pop voice, in sharp contrast with the booming tenors of the other three. Too bad, Michael Crawford did not sing a note. After this, the four ex-Phantoms all took turns to sing "Music of the Night." This was another beautiful rendition of the song. At the end, the present Phantom, Ramin Kaminloo also joined the group. Another curtain call followed, and the event comes to an end.
This is definitely a must-watch for fans of Phantom, as well as fans of Musical Theater in general. When time comes for the DVD to come out, that should also be a must-own in his DVD collection.
I have loved "The Phantom of the Opera" for many years and listen to
the soundtrack album with Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman almost
religiously. I began watching this with great worry, remembering how
underwhelmed and disappointed I felt with the 2004 film adaptation.
Imagine my delight when I discovered this even better than the original
Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Bogges are both incredible actors and singers and are absolute magic together, as well as individually. Ramin has the passion and soul the Phantom needs and Sierra has the voice of an angel and makes feel every note she sings.
For years, I have had to put up with people telling me that Joel Schumacher's utterly redundant 2004 adaptation was actually brilliant; or that they cannot afford to see the real show. Well, the 25th anniversary concert exposes the 2004 adaptation for the diabolical mess that it is, with it's far superior singing, acting and set. And the fact that it is available on DVD means the 2004 film can shoved into the deep hole it belongs in.
Simply perfect, there is no excuse to miss this. Watch it and let it's music caress your soul.
I nearly bypassed picking up the Phantom of the Opera (POTO) 25th
Anniversary DVD because I was unfamiliar with Ramin Karimloo (Phantom)
and Sierra Boggess (Christine). So I took a chance and brought the DVD
home. What a surprising delight! POTO 25 was filmed before a live
audience at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The cameras bring the
viewer up close and personal to the happenings on stage.
Ramin and Sierra had starred in Andrew Lloyd Webber's POTO sequel, Love Never Dies (LND), just before the POTO 25 event. Their chemistry bonding had already been established during LND, so they sizzled on stage during POTO 25. Their voices compliment each other so magnificently, and their faces (especially Sierra's) portray the vast array of emotions during their songs. They are incredible! They make you believe that you are witnessing something very, very, once-in-a-lifetime special, because you are!
So, I have been transformed from an unfamiliar viewer in the beginning, to a full-fledged obsessive drum beater for Ramin and Sierra in their remarkable POTO 25 performances. Sierra is a true to life Angel of Music; her voice, radiant beauty, emotional energy, and sensational acting talent will mesmerize you. She is such a wonderful inspiration to all those aspiring to be stage actors and singers. Ramin is a powerful Phantom who brilliantly brings to life a lonely, disfigured composer who falls in love with Christine.
POTO 25 is beautiful acting, singing, costuming, stage setting all rolled up into a full orchestra, mind-blowing experience you should not miss! Crank up the volume and thoroughly enjoy this masterpiece.
Ramin and Sierra are pure magic together. They have made people (including me) cry during this wonderful production. Sierra's voice and emotional impact can, and probably will, cause shivers to run up and down your spine at times. Yes, she really is this amazing.
I watch my favorite parts of POTO 25 several times a week. It never fails to lift my spirits and to appreciate the spectacular talent on display whenever I wish. Bravo, Ramin and Sierra!!!!!
The Phantom of the Opera is one of my personal favourites, and for me
easily Andrew Lloyd Webber's best musical(though I do have a soft spot
for Joseph). Anybody who loves The Phantom of the Opera will fall in
love with this Royal Albert Hall performance, and while I didn't hate
the 2004 film as much as others did this performance is a huge
improvement. The costumes and sets are sumptuous and exquisite to look
at. The camera work allows you to admire the production design and does
so unobtrusively, often it has a very cinematic look which I loved
without feeling overblown. The sound is resonant and clear, giving the
feeling that you are actually there at the ROH watching it live. The
orchestra give the score the powerful sweep it should have, a great
thing in itself as it is one of those musicals where every song works.
The chorus enunciate clearly and have a vibrant and carefully-blended
sound. The stage direction is hugely compelling all the way, you are
thrilled, terrified and moved to tears throughout and you do empathise
with the characters and are fully engaged in Phantom and Christine's
love-hate relationship. Nothing feels overdone or stillborn, you do
miss the falling chandelier set-piece but at the same time you can
understand considering the venue why it wasn't done. The singing is
fantastic, embracing the somewhat exposed- from my experience having
performed at ROH with various choruses at 3 Christmas concerts, one
concert as a guest choir and 2 prom performances- acoustic.
Ramin Karimloo is an incredibly powerful Phantom, imposing in stature, somewhat scary, somewhat seductive and very affecting, and he has a gorgeous voice, one of the most beautiful of anybody in the role in my opinion. His make-up is genuinely hideous, and Music of the Night is really heartfelt. Sierra Boggess' Christine is alluring, charming and her stage presence is as moving as Karimloo's. Her soprano voice is bright and lyrical with no breathy sound(despite some of her breathing having a gasping quality), and I personally prefer her high notes to Sarah Brightman's finding them much clearer. Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again had me weeping buckets. Raoul is I agree more abrasive than usual, but Hadley Fraser still sings beautifully- especially in All I Ask of You- and doesn't forget to act. All the supporting roles are filled solidly, but I want to really credit Kiera Duffy, she is every bit the Prima-Donna diva Carlotta ought to be but displays also a sympathetic and vulnerable side that I have rarely if ever seen from past Carlottas, most of which are basically caricatures. We are also given the bonus of having the likes of Sarah Brightman, John Owen Jones, Anthony Warlow and Colm Wilkinson performing, Michael Crawford doesn't sing but it was still a pleasure to see him. I was less taken by Peter Joback, it is a rather a lightweight sound and sounds rather nasal, a sound that is not very easy to warm to. But he isn't enough to bring down the performance in any way because everything else is so good. The appearance also of Andrew Lloyd Webber himself was also very touching. In conclusion, amazing, if you love The Phantom of the Opera this is everything you could possibly want and more.
10/10 Bethany Cox
I've been an IMDb user for a few years now, but this title is the
reason for which I write my first review here. This first review, as
well as the 10 stars I give, I hope these will somehow (highest rated
search, etc) attract at least one more person to this title, which is
It's hard to review a title which is not really a movie. It combines the best of the cinema, theater and opera. The cinema, as after all it's still a movie. Secondly, as it's an opera, the actors and the crew perform live and you get most of their talent this way. The combining element is the emotion which you do not see without the close-ups in the traditional theater. The actors' play is simply excellent. Scenes depicting relationships between the main characters are played by them so perfectly, that simply cause tears in eyes (vide the final one of the first part).
It's just incredible, that this masterpiece remains so little-known.
Assuming one likes this musical (and few don't), I believe this is the finest film presentation of all, far surpassing the big budget movie of a few years ago (which I thought was pretty good). As others have said, the staging is magnificent with backlighting and projection enhancing the performances. The singing and acting are superb. Costuming goes beyond the pale. Also, we get the closeups one cannot have in a live performance. We get to see the emotional expression of the actors. There is little time wasted on minutiae as the play goes forward. Some of the highlights are the duet "All I Ask of You" and the magnificent "Masquerade." The three principles are all at the top of their game in this 25th anniversary performance at the Royal Albert Hall. It is a visual and auditory delight and I am excited that the play I have seen numerous times is there for the viewing.
Andrew Lloyd Webber's the phantom of the opera is the world's most successful entertainment event of all time to date grossing about 5.6 billion dollars worldwide and seen by over 130 million people. i personally love this musical, having seen it in London last year and became a "phan" i went on to check the 2004 film adaptation starring Gerard butler as the title role. and absolutely hated it. luckily for me i heard about this special royal Albert hall production released on DVD celebrating the show's 25th anniversary and when i saw it i absolutely loved it. it was spectacular in every sense of the word. the thing that matters most in any production such as phantom is the cast, since one cast member that isn't rightfully cast can ruin the entire show (for instance, butler's casting in the film), but here every cast member was brilliant. ramin karimloo's phantom was exactly what the phantom character needed, having a voice that is intimidating yet caring and tender at the same time, and his acting was also superb. sierra bogges was also perfect as Christine, with a great voice that completely blew my mind away. all the other cast members were also brilliant in their roles, and the casting was ideal in my opinion. the scenery and effects were good, but not perfect. the sets for example was replaced by screens (due to the fact that the royal Albert hall is a concert hall not a theatre, and the sets of phantom are enormous) which was okay, but not as jaw-dropping as in the original London production, also the chandelier effect was barely believable here, instead of rising over the audience like in the original production, the chandelier simply shoots some fireworks and move a little, and at the end of act I instead of crashing down the stage, it shoots fireworks again and turns off it' lights, which might have been effective for the audience sitting in the royal Albert hall, but not very effective for the DVD viewer. still those flaws didn't bother me from enjoying this tremendously. at the end of the show the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber (whose music is nearly perfect in every way no matter how much criticism it received over the years) says a few words about the show and introduces the creative teams and original London company to the stage, which was very exciting. the grand final consisted the original Christine daae, the wonderful Sarah brightman performing the mesmerizing title song with 4 phantoms from the past, present and future was wonderful despite the fact that you could hear her breath a little during the first part of the song, but she hit those really high notes at the end perfectly, then the phantoms performed the iconic "music of the night" for one huge encore. all n all this production was awesome, and the next best thing to seeing the show in person, it proves why phantom is so loved and appreciated around the world and why it celebrated 25 years. a huge recommendation to fans of the musical and i think people that aren't familiar with the stage musical will like it too (not everyone though, if they don't like musicals and don't like this kind of repetitive musicals, which doesn't bother me). Andrew Lloyd Webber's the phantom of the opera: the most successful musical of all time is as timeless and haunting as ever in a sweeping breathtaking production. well done to all the ones involved in it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My 'Phantom of the Opera' experience has now completed its tour. I have
heard all the music, and have some of the recordings. I have seen the
1925 silent movie version with Lon Chaney, I have seen the 2004 movie
version with current movie stars, and with this viewing I have seen the
premier stage production, albeit on film. Each one of them is good in
its own experience.
But musicals, on stage, are unique in their own way, and this one, at the Royal Albert Hall, has to be the best if you are forced to put them in order. All the singers are trained operatic singers and in general are clearly more accomplished than what you will find in movie versions.
The musical is called 'Phantom' for a reason, and in the title role is Ramin Karimloo (from Iran) as The Phantom. He plays the role, and sings, marvelously. The object of his affection is Sierra Boggess (from USA) as Christine. And her suitor is Hadley Fraser (British) as Raoul. Not to be overlooked is Wendy Ferguson as Carlotta and she performs that role marvelously also.
The live production included an addendum after the final curtain, honoring cast members over the years, including most of the original cast. Plus some performances. That is also included in the film.
Saw it via Netflix streaming video, in hi-def and surround sound. A really fine viewing experience.
Having never had the opportunity to see PHANTOM OF THE OPERA live in
the West End, I settled on the next best thing; this DVD release of the
show's 25th anniversary special, which took place in front of a huge
audience at the Royal Albert Hall. It's a vivid, spectacular show full
of the requisite sumptuous sets, costumes and damn good singing, and
offers pretty much everything you could wish for from a musical.
As this is a filmed performance of a live musical, you have to remember it's not quite the same as being there. The cameramen focus on certain parts of the action in close up and miss out other sections; it's as if you're viewing the show through the funnel of somebody else's interest. Sometimes, the bigger picture is lost in favour of a moment of detail. On the plus side, you get to watch the show from the comfort of your own home, so it's all a question of weighing up the positives and the negatives.
The singers all give very good performances, particularly Karimloo and Boggess as Phantom and Christine respectively there's no faulting them. This production includes an encore featuring appearances by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the original Phantom and Christine, Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman. Values in terms of costumes, effects and scenery are strong, with the only disappointment the lack of the crashing chandelier set-piece; apparently, the effect couldn't be staged within the constraints of the Royal Albert Hall. Never mind there's enough excellence elsewhere that it isn't missed too much.
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