Review: Phantom of the Opera a lavishly romantic spectacle

By Paul Simei-Barton

Chris Crowe and Barbara Graham in Phantom of the Opera.
Chris Crowe and Barbara Graham in Phantom of the Opera.

The music of the night once again unfurls its sweet intoxication amid the splendor of the Civic Theatre as a local company breathes life into the lavishly romantic spectacle of Andrew Lloyd Webber's finest creation.

As the Phantom, Chris Crowe unleashes the wild passions of a tormented soul taking vengeance on an uncaring world.

His finely balanced performance finds exquisite tenderness in Music of the Night while bringing an edgy sense of danger to the furious violence of a misunderstood genius.

As Christine, Barbara Graham's superb voice vividly expresses the purity of the Phantom's pupil who embodies the healing power of love in the show's renowned series of duets.

It is a huge achievement for a local company to pull off a production on this scale and a testimony to the long-term vision of Amici Trust, which has shown an admirable commitment to developing musical theatre from community level through to semi-professional productions.

A show of this kind cannot be expected to match mega-budget touring companies but ticket prices are well below the international benchmark and it is easy to feel the craft and commitment that has gone into every aspect of the show.

Director Grant Messe creates a strong sense of emotional engagement and draws a stark contrast between the acquisitive, pretentious world of musical management and the sublime beauty of the Phantom's nocturnal abode.

Allan Lees beautiful scene paintings create a real feeling of depth with trompe-l'œil perspective effects while Jason Morphett's lighting conjures up the rapturous gloom of the Phantom's underground lair.

The live music rising out the orchestra pit was delivered with panache under the direction of Penny Dodd who once played in the orchestra of the original West End production.

What: The Phantom of the Opera

Where: The Civic, to March 5.

- NZ Herald

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