BREAKING NEWS (that really isn’t at all breaking!): This will probably come as no surprise to most of you but I think Phantom of the Opera has taken the number one position of ‘Catherine’s favourite musicals’. I think it may have even bypassed Les Mis and we all know how strong my feelings are towards the French Revolution.
I went to see the matinée performance on Thursday with Angel and I had one of the best (and yet most stressful) days of my life!! Someone please remind me never to travel when Doris is on a rampage… Bloody weather.
It took me 3 and a half hours to travel down to London… I mean, I knew I caught the slow train that stops off at literally everyone’s house but it’s only meant to take two hours and twelve minutes.They received communication that a tree had fallen onto the track… in the other direction and then we had to travel at a maximum speed of 50mph. Maybe it would have been quicker for me to walk? Even Angel, who had caught a train up to London an hour and 40 minutes after me, was sat in the Theatre Cafe waiting for me for a good 45 minutes. I’m so sorry. The only highlight from the tedious train journey down was that Tim Metcalfe from Coronation Street was stood next to where I was sitting.
I eventually met up with Angel who I hadn’t seen since my 18th birthday. We became friends after having a conversation about Celinde Schoenmaker’s Christine on Twitter. A year later and here we are… Actually seeing Phantom sat next to each other as opposed to on the other side of the theatre.
We managed to book front row royal circle tickets including an afternoon tea at the Haymarket Hotel £49.50. The ticket alone is meant to cost £79. Daylight robbery… surely?! Despite slightly sticking out like a sore thumb in the restaurant because I don’t raise my pinky as I sip my Earl Grey tea, the afternoon tea was utterly delightful. You truly cannot beat a cream and jam scone. To settle a debate, jam first then the cream. The jam acts as butter and the cream is the treat.
I’ve only ever sat in the stalls. Four times front row (I’m lucky!!!), once in the third row and once at the back. I never realised quite how much you missed unless you sat higher in the theatre. I never knew the Phantom appears at the top of the set during Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh. I will definitely try to sit here again for future shows.
At the matinée performance, Celinde Schoenmaker played the role of Christine Daae. This marked the seventh time I’ve seen Celinde perform live. I saw her three times as Fantine in Les Mis and four times as Christine Daae and she never ceases to amaze me. I’m left in awe of her talent each time. Her voice is glorious, extremely stunning and versatile, and her Think of Me cadenza is mind-blowing, to say the least. I dread to think what my ‘theatre-face’ looks like: open-mouthed and leaning forward to the edge of my chair. Her Wishing is always beautifully executed. (Ps. How is it so humanly possible for one person to be so pretty? Give me your secrets please, Celinde. You’re a real life Disney Princess). It was a huge joy to meet her again, scroll down below.
I was incredibly excited to see Charlotte Vaughan portray Carlotta again. She was my very first Carlotta and I saw her take over the role mid-show last time after Lara Martins couldn’t stop coughing during Think of Me. Her voice is utterly incredible; big voice and extremely diva-ish. She is extremely hilarious and provides the comic relief from the somewhat heavier scene. It does baffle me how she’s not the principle. IN-SANE! And I was lucky enough to meet her afterwards. Scroll down below.
Team Raoul. I was definitely Team Raoul this time round. 4-3 to Raoul. Nadim Naaman played this role and honestly, he’s my favourite actor to portray this role thus far. His voice is amazing. Evidence: His album ‘Sides’. His original flare on the title song featuring Celinde and his rendition of Out There from Hunchback are my most played songs in my playlist. Nadim plays a protective Raoul and the chemistry between himself and Christine is undeniable. The kiss after All I Ask Of You is so flirtatious and honestly, it melts my heart. Christine would have been a fool if she hadn’t chose Raoul in this performance. His acting complements his singing and the way in which he reacts when Christine kisses the Phantom in the lair touches me, his facial expression reads sadness. Also, his voice broke slightly during Twisted and he did not let this deter the performance in any way. A real star.
I was kind of hoping to see Ben Forster again or maybe Luke McCall as the Phantom only because Scott Davies is my most-seen Phantom. That being said, Scott delivered an exceptional performance. His Music of the Night was seducing, chilling and massively passionate. His voice is incredible, literally incredible; it resonates throughout the theatre. He was very consistent when expressing his emotion but I found that he often ‘over-acted’ the role. He exaggerated the anger he felt and the sadness he felt. When Christine ripped off his mask in ‘Stranger than you Dreamt it’, he was overly dramatic in his sadness losing the effectiveness of his performance. That being said, he was still fabulous and I do not at all fault his talent.
Sion Lloyd and Mark Oxtoby need to be commented on as a duo. Their Monsieur Firmin and Monsieur Andre, respectively, aren’t my favourite duo but hell, do they put on a good performance. I love the scene where Monsieur Andre introduces the ballet, Mark Oxtoby milks this and provides quality comedy. I also love the stubbornness of Monsieur Firmin ‘five bars will be QUITE sufficient’.
Paul Morrissey, who is an understudy, gave a solid performance of Piangi. It was wonderful to see someone new in the role. Jacinta Mulcahy is always a joy to watch as Madame Giry and Daisy Hulbert’s Meg Giry was a delight.
After the performance, I had a text message from my dad suggesting that I get to Euston station as soon as possible as all trains had been cancelled. Warren Street tube station got evacuated and Euston tube station was closed due to overcrowding. Nightmare. Walking to Euston, I passed YouTuber Pete Bucknall and got a little too excited considering I was facing a situation in which I was struggling to get home. When I got to the station, the only trains departing were to Milton Keynes and Watford Junction. Hilarious!! Luckily, I was in the right place at the right time when a little screen announced a train to Manchester on platform 7. Myself and 600 people behind me, sprinted to the train to get a seat.
WHAT A DAY!