Monday, June 3, 2019

Review: Phantom of the Opera

Review by Jeremy Lee

This show needs no introduction, whether you’re a musical theatre nerd or casual show goer. Even millennials whose idea of legit musical theatre is Hamilton, The Book of Mormon or Dear Evan Hansen would surely know and love what has been dubbed the world’s most popular musical. And now classic favourite The Phantom of the Opera is back in Singapore, having been playing at the Marina Bay Sands since April courtesy of the folks at Base Entertainment Asia, we can let its lush melodies and gothic stylings enchant us once again.

Arguably Andrew Lloyd Webber’s greatest work, Phantom has won accolades galore, including Tony and Olivier Awards. It’s also the longest-running show in Broadway history, having opened in January 1988 and is still currently running now after more than 30 years. Yup, a baby born on its opening night would be a full-grown adult by now.

But people don’t watch the show for its awards, they watch it for an unparalleled experience; a few hours immersed in the world of the Paris Opera House and the dangerous games of the Phantom. So how does the current production running in Singapore match up?

The good news is what we love about the epic musical is still there -- the hit songs of course, the gorgeous costumes and the dark yet hauntingly beautiful sets (the Phantom’s labyrinth with candles and a pipe organ, the roof of the opera house with a creepy angel watching over proceedings and a forlorn cemetery). The famous chandelier is still there, and it still (spolier alert) plunges at the end of Act 1, though a bit too slowly for my taste -- we’re told that its speed depends on the production and venue.

Nevertheless, while all the good things we have come to love about the show remain there have been some changes. The sets and costumes have been updated, as well as the special effects and technology. (Real theatrical magic is required for The Phantom to vanish in a puff of smoke during the masquerade ball, you know.) Rest assured, though, audiences won’t notice any decline in the wonder and magic of the show.

And what of the performances? Jonathan Roxmouth as the titular Phantom is enchanting and a delight to watch and listen to. A consummate actor indeed, despite his handsome face being tragically covered by a mask and grotesque stage make-up, he conveys the protagonist/antagonist’s magnetic appeal and deadly pathos with just his voice and his body language. One can almost swim in his passion for Christine and his desire for a normal life.

Additionally, Roxmouth makes the role his own by eschewing the breathy yet ethereal vocals of original Phantom Michael Crawford, instead twirling his strong and commanding voice around each luscious note of the score. With his performance, he shows himself to be one of the best Phantoms the world has had the privilege of watching.

While Meghan Picerno as Christine looks the part, with her dewy eyes portraying the hapless heroine to a tee. Vocally, however, she doesn’t nail the high notes as effortlessly as you would think Christine would. However, the role is a tough act to follow -- how many can match up to the distinctive voice of original Christine Sarah Brightman?

Matt Leisy as Raoul has a strong, pleasing voice and boyish charm that instantly gives him a rapport with the equally bright-eyed Christine and makes their romance believable. Unsurprisingly, the youthful-looking British-American is more convincing in his scenes romancing Christine than plotting with the owners to bring down the Phantom.

Among the supporting characters, Beverley Chiat stands out as prima donna Carlotta. In a role designed to be the comic relief scene-stealer, Chiat hams it up superbly, with her most raucous scenes as the foil to Christine as they perform in the fictional opera Il Muto (the famous croaking scene) and her snide remarks while rehearsing for Don Juan Triumphant. It’s to her credit that she manages to stand out during these minor scenes, and in fact, her amazing voice, which scales piercing heights with ease, will make the audience wonder how Christine is supposed to be the better singer.

Despite this being the fourth time the Phantom has graced our shores, the quality of the productions that come in and our love for the musical show no signs of diminishing -- the show opened to a roaring crowd, many of whom we suspect have seen the show more than once. The show is running till 8 June, so if you haven’t seen the current run yet, or if you want to catch a repeat performance, there’s limited time left to secure tickets!

Phantom of the Opera runs till 8 June 2019. Tickets are available at SISTIC!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Phantom of the Opera Cast and Creative Team Interviews

Phantom of the Opera is back at MBS's Sand's Theatre. We were there to interview the cast and production team. Check out our interviews by Hawk Liu below!

Firstly, we speak to Matt Leisy who plays Raoul in thos production. A classically trained who found a career in professional musical theatre, he shares with us how his performance journey has brought him to our shores in one of musical theatre's most famous shows.

Next, we speak to the creative team: Rainer Fried (assistant director), Gigi Jee Hyun Noh (resident choreographer, ballet swing) and David Andrews Rogers (musical director), discussing the challenges of bringing this iconic piece of theatre and music to life along with the high expectiations of the audiences.

Enticing isn't it? Why not check out the show yourself? Get your tickets now at SISTIC!

Phantom of the Opera at MBS - Now Running till 8 June 2019

I'm so happy that Base Entertainment has brought the classic Phantom of the Opera back for another run. It is always a delight to hear Andrew Lloyd Webber's sumptuous score performed live.

This cast certainly did justice to ALW's demanding score, with Meghan Picerno as Christine Daae, Matt Leisy as Raoul and Jonathan Roxmouth embodying the tortured soul of the tutular character. Beverley Chiat as Carlotta and Thabiso Masemene as Piangi, the prima donna and primo tenore of the opera house, as well as James Borthwick and Curt Olds as the two managers lend strong support in the main cast.

Whether it's your first time watching or an experienced goer, this production is certain to provide a fulfilling theatrical experience.

Check out our Facebook Group Photo Album for exclusive production pictures.

And of course, get your tickets at SISTIC!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

LASALLE's - Elton John and Tim Rice's 'Aida' in Pictures

LASALLE's musical theatre department recently held its annual graduation production from 16 to 20 April 2019. It was a wonderful production that showcased a broad range of talents from it's graduating class. It starred Andrea Joy Alingalan, Muhammad Shafiq Haziq, Gabrielle Rae Sammy, Morgane Madeleine, Joash Tang, Vanessa Kee and Mario Chan among a large ensemble cast.

Here are some pictures from the production that played to almost full houses throughout it's entire run:

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Aladdin at MBS: Running from 21 July to 11 Aug 2019

Our team at The Mad Scene were chuffed to be invited to an exclusive media call for Aladdin, opening on 21 July 2019. The stars of the show flew down specially from Australia to perform hits from the show for us as well as answer questions from host Allen Wu and us invited guests.

This production looks to be a visual and musical spectacular; from the opening crowd sequences to the physical rendering of the central magic carpet ride, we were promised that we will be blown away by the production's combination of stagecraft in costumes and set design, modern technology, atheletics and performance talent. I for one am eager to see how the animated film that I have loved as a child would be brought to life onstage!

Check out our exclusive coverage of the media call, including a full performance of A Whole New World here.

Offical trailer for this production:

More detailed pictures with cast performance and costumes here.

Tickets for Aladdin are already available at SISTIC. Find out more information via the link below:

Monday, March 4, 2019

All About Love - 7 April 2019 (Sun)

Join Steven Ang, Lin Yu-Ching, Jonathan Huang, William Chua, Chen Su-Chen and pianist Ben Lim as we present a recital programme of operatic arias, duets and ensembles about everyone's favourite subject - LOVE!

Click through to find out more about about the show including our full concert programme and tickets!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Review: Matilda The Musical - at MBS till 17 March 2019

Jeremy Lee attended the Gala Night of Matilda The Musical. Here is his review, read on to find out why you should attend the show before it ends on 17 March 2019!

Does your child think he’s the best? Do you want to wean the little tyke off of the plague of entitlement that besets many Singaporean children nowadays?

Bring the mini-me to see Matilda The Musical, the latest offering from the hardworking folks at Base Entertainment Asia, now playing at the Marina Bay Sands till 17 March 2019.

The multiple-award-winning Broadway and West End show, based on the book by the late, beloved novelist Roald Dahl, doesn’t treat children with kid gloves - in fact, it actively brings them down a peg or two.

The opening sequence, Miracle, hammers this point home right at the start, with children declaring that their parents say that they are “a miracle”, “special” and a “princess/prince” - teachers in Singapore who have dealt with spoiled pupils may find this all-too familiar.

The children are quickly brought down to earth, though, when they start school and are unceremoniously warned by older students of “severe” punishments, “tragedy” and a “living hell” under a violent headteacher - more on her later.