Oct 9th, 2009
Her Majesty's Theatre London, is where it all began. October 1986 and the curtain went up on the biggest gamble of Lloyd Webber's life.
Graduating from Joseph and Jesus to a grand opera style of musical was a massive leap. Written for his then wife, Sarah Brightman, but without writing partner Tim Rice, he changed lyricists half-way through using first Richard Stilgoe and then Charles Hart. The nation was held in suspense when it came to choosing the leade role. The choice of a TV slap stick comic as the Phantom (in reality a pretty safe bet if you'd seen Michael Crawford in Hello Dolly) suprirsed everyone.
Hydraulics, dry ice, magical stage effects, you name it, Hal Prince put it into the production. Lloyd Webber had everything to lose and the critics sharpened their knives.
But what transpired was the dawn of the blockbuster musical franchise. Followed by only a small few, Phantom today leaves a Titanic sized wake behind it in which the rest wallow for nearly 30 years.
How long will it last? Is it old fashioned and out of date? Has time worn away its shine? Find out for yourself is my response. If you've seen it before, take someone along who hasn't, and see how they react to what is still a masterpiece.
Phantom is suitable for audiences aged 12 and upwards, not because of anything that may disturb younger audiences, but this is a two and a half hour piece of grand musical, and will easily lose the attention of younger children.
Her Majesty's Theatre is a beautiful theatre (owned by the Lord as well by the way) and is beautifully ornate and a perfect setting for this musical. Sitting in the middle section of the stalls will be exciting, but the front of the dress cricle affords you a better view of all the action which takes place around the theatre. If you're driving you may be surprised to know that a good portion of the left hand side of The Haymarket is single yellow line parking (as at Oct 2008) so if you arrive around 6:30pm you can often park right outside.
View our show pages for more information about Phantom of the Opera, Her Majestys Theatre