ONE OF the most successful musicals of all time, Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Phantom of the Opera has been enthralling audiences at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo of the Cultural Center of the Philippines since August 25 when it opened. It will have an extended run until Oct. 14.

The musical is an adaptation of Gaston-Leroux’s novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra and is celebrating its 25th anniversary. It stars Jonathan Roxmouth as the Phantom, Claire Lyon as Christine, and Anthony Downing as Raoul. Filipino tenor Dondi Ong completes the cast as Ubaldo Piangi.

At an auction of the dilapidated Paris Opera House, items to be sold include a music box adorned with a cymbal-playing monkey and the infamous chandelier, Lot 666, a living witness to the disaster involving the “Opera Ghost.” The unveiling of the chandelier brings back the Opera House to the time of its prime.

The stage is ruled by the prima donna, soprano Carlotta Giudicelli, and tenor Ubaldo Piangi. During the rehearsals of Hannibal, the Phantom causes a backdrop to fall in the middle of Carlotta’s performance, prompting her to leave. Faced with the dilemma of replacing Carlotta or refunding the audience, the producers accepted the dancers’ recommendation to have Christine Daaé as replacement. She delivers a performance equal to Carlotta’s, which catches the attention of her childhood friend Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny.

After her performance, the Phantom, who has introduced himself as her Angel of Music, brings her to his lair, offering her to sing his music. Christine is torn between the gratitude for her so-called Angel, who has taught her everything she knows about music, and her love for Raoul.

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The Manila production is a collaboration between the touring Asia-Pacific cast and local talents. According to producer Tim McFarlane, managing director of the Really Useful Company Asia Pacific (RUCAP), the Manila production “is the same as that in the West End and on Broadway.”

When the Varsitarian saw the Aug. 25 performance, particularly was the stellar performance in “Masquerade,” the song that opens the second act, where the characters celebrate the New Year’s Eve with a masquerade ball, only to be interrupted by the Phantom yet again. All the characters are adorned with festive costumes, some originally designed by the late Maria Björnson.

The production made use of over 140 pair of shoes, 70 wigs made from human hair, and over 200 costumes that have been meticulously preserved with some fabric even dating back to a hundred years.

The chandelier that’s at the center of the production is said to weigh a ton and is three meters wide and made of 6,000 beads, consisting of 35 beads per string.

The whole production, the main cast—Roxmouth, Lyon and Downing—and the memorable music of Weber, who wrote the by now classic songs such as “All I Ask of You” and “Music of the Night”—made for a stellar show that got a standing ovation in the end. Christopher B. Enriquez with reports from John Joseph G. Basijan

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