To be fair, it was night in London when the 25th Anniversary concert at the Royal Albert Hall began, but it was only 2pm here in New Jersey when we saw it at our local movie theater. Thank you, Fathom Entertainment - the last year alone you gave us Company, Memphis, Les Mis, and now this spectacular production of The Phantom of the Opera.
Caitie and I had been planning to see this for months. While Phantom isn't either of our FAVORITE shows, it's one we both spent a lot of time listening to, and both of us have seen more than once. All right, we both pretty much know the show by heart. I hit those high notes Christine sings at the end of the title song every time. The last sentence is a huge lie.
Anyway, we were surprised to find some small lyric changes:
"Think of me, every so often, promise me you'll try.""
Wait..wha? "Every so often"? Since when? Both of us always knew it as "Think of me, once in a while, please promise me you'll try."
Well, odd lyric changes aside, the concert was spectacular. I don't really know that it can be called a "concert" as it was fully staged. True, they didn't drop the chandelier (I'm guessing because they rig it in the theater) and the cool trick during the title song when Phantom and Christine go from the top of the stage to the bottom in an instant wasn't there, but most of the original staging (as I remember it) was there. Ramin Karimloo has a rich voice and made a wonderful Phantom. I've heard him on the cast albums of "Love Never Dies" (don't get me started) and as Enjolras in the Les Mis concert. He has a great career ahead of him. Similarly, Sierra Boggess was incredible as Christine. Her "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" was probably the best rendition of the song I've ever heard. It was simply beautiful. We saw her a few years ago in "The Little Mermaid" - she was good then, but she's improved quite a lot. The rest of the cast was equally impressive - the Carlotta was more expressive than I remember and had a great "opera" voice (I'm sorry, I don't know the technical terms - other than knowing she's a soprano - I think.)
The end surprise was great fun. I love Colm Wilkinson, so was happy to see him there. I recognized John Owen-Jones - and there was that other guy who had that incredible, crystal clear voice - who was it? Oh yeah - one of our favorite performers, Anthony Warlow! Sarah Brightman was there, and for some reason Michael Crawford didn't sing. Andrew Lloyd Webber is the most awkward man on the planet, but I doubt he cares much.
While Webber's not my favorite composer by any stretch, he has written several great (and some not so great) scores - Phantom definitely is amongst his best. It's hard to argue with 25 years of success, and even after all these years, "Music of the Night" is still gorgeous, the relationship between Raoul and Christine still makes no sense, and the end scene in the lair is still moving and beautiful.