PURE PLEASURE AT HER MAJESTY’S
It appeared definitely worth the cash – these weren’t press tickets – to take a look at how good previous Fanty is getting on after 36 years at Her Majesty’s Theatre down the Haymarket. It’s survived the Covid interruption, labored its manner by means of a phantasmagorical procession of Phantoms and Christines since Crawford and Brightman, and has needed to pare its orchestra down from 27 to 14. How wouldn’t it really feel? I bear in mind seeing Lloyd-Webber’s CATS onstage in its final London days, and a horrible disappointing sense of its weariness. Laborious to pin down why – with good expertise, first rate viewers and the traditional Gillian Lynne choreography – nevertheless it felt stale, hopeless. I feared the identical. A decline into exhausted tourist-fodder.
However no: Phantom is contemporary as a daisy, its gorgeously over-the-top staging as hilarious and wonderful as ever: a gilt proscenium-within-the-proscenium full with containers, a nostalgic opening on the public sale with the nice chandelier draped in sacking, then a flashing reveal of a grand cod-opera rehearsal full with stern ballet mistress and roll-on elephant onto which the heroic tenor struggles to climb. Honour to the brand new resident and affiliate administrators: the solid give the impression of having a ball, and probably even having fun with the intense costumes (I gasp on the considered the wardrobe group). And our newest Phantom is Killian Donnelly, again for a second go, or third, provided that he has been Raoul as properly.
He’s splendid: large beautiful vocal vary, swashbuckling authority, simply the chap you should punt you thru a subterranean lake studded with big candelabras, and pop up dramatically, whether or not from an enormous winged horse’s head on the opera roof or looming on a tomb. Lucy St Louis is a correctly charming Christine, too (final noticed her as Diana Ross). The ensemble are as tight and delighted and pleasant as on any first night time, and as a sober ROH common I had forgotten the pleasure of the three bursts of grand-opera pastiche. This time that enjoyment was inflated additional afterwards by the amusement of getting on-line to learn studying anguished real-opera-buff commentaries on what their bete- noir Lloyd-Webber acquired, of their opinion, flawed.
I additionally realized, within the first track “consider me”, precisely the place Victoria Wooden will need to have acquired the inspiration for the rehearsal scene in her Bessie Bunter The Musical sketch…the one with the road about Anthony Eden..
It was a household outing, the present chosen as a result of some 25 years in the past, over 5 years into Phantom’s epic run, I took a posse of 11-year-old ladies to it for (we predict) my daughter’s birthday. I had encountered the present first when it opened and Cameron Waterproof coat got here on MIDWEEK (radio 4). I bear in mind saying to him, as a humble non-affluent punter, “Gosh I want I used to be a theatre-angel, an investor”. Not simply because it was clearly going to run, however as a result of it might be enjoyable to be concerned in one thing so gloriously preposterous, so drenched within the romance of bygone theatre and opera and staged with éclat, sentiment, and jokes concerning the enterprise. And a collapsing chandelier… O, what number of instances has that factor been up and down, skimming the heads of row F? Honour to 3 and a half many years of technical crews
Anyway, the love years in the past was elevated as a result of when my rabble of little ladies shot out chattering on the finish by way of the merchandise stall, the cry that went up was not for T shirts or badges however an amazed, delighted “Look, Mum, you should buy the SCORE!” Abruptly all these music lesson charges felt price it. Which is but another excuse I received’t hear a phrase in opposition to pricey Fanty, not now, not ever. The faint tooting of “Angel of Music” on many recorders afterwards is alone a justification. God bless ALW, I say.