Phantom of the Opera – a Nottingham University production
This student production running at the Nottingham Arts Theatre is a brave attempt at producing Lloyd Webber's most popular piece of musical theatre. It is not an easy show to reproduce and part of it's West End and world wide professional appeal are the show's magical and theatrical effects, lightening bolts, Operatic set pieces, a chandelier that crashes on to the stage, smoke and mirrors and a magical boat that floats through the labyrinthine tunnels under the Paris Opera House.
Musicality have wisely decided to be prudent in the effects department and have concentrated instead on producing some fine singing and acting from the performers and soaring music from wonderful eighteen piece orchestra. It works very well, despite a few first night dips in balance of the sound scape and lighting.
Simon Kale as The Phantom shows great sensitivity in the playing of the challenging role, making the most of the pathetic nature of the man and showed a very credible depth of character especially during the Phantom's most angst ridden, vengeful and tortured moments. His singing is superb throughout. This is a performance he should be very proud of.
The role of Christine Daae, played with sympathetic conviction by Elizabeth Jerjian, is beautifully sung and delicately acted with a natural sincerity and her scenes with Andrew Bond as her lover Raoul are tenderly handled, and equally so with the Phantom. Bond's performance is a stand out performance. Whilst the role doesn't really give the performer a lot of acting scope Bond conveys the romantic young man to perfection with some clear and confident singing.
Other stand out performances are Jenny Lake as the ambitious but thwarted dancer Meg Giry and a rock solid performance is given by Abby Hughes as her cane tapping domineering, strident Mother Mme Giry. Both carried their parts with enormous conviction.
Jack Scott -Walker and Kishan Soni are excellent as the new owners of the Paris Opera house, some good clear diction and very amusing in their scenes together, especially the scene with notes from the Phantom. Equally funny and comically expressive in their roles are Greg Link and Bethany Lamb as Piangi and Carlotta the spoilt Opera singers. Their fine singing voices are one of the highlights of a very good evening at the theatre ably directed by Alex McIntyre.
The whole ensemble work well together and are clearly enjoying the experience of performing Lloyd Webber's masterpiece and are accompanied throughout with confident playing of the difficult score by the orchestra.
The multi-functional set uses the Nottingham Arts Theatre space well with good use of the upper regions and sides. The dramatically flashing chandelier added authenticity to the piece as it is expected to be seen and almost a character on its own. The quality costumes were hired from the magnificent wardrobe of the nearby Lace Market Theatre.
All credit to the entire creative team for a super student production The Phantom of the Opera.