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6 Degrees Entertainment

The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall
(Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess, Hadley Fraser, Wendy Ferguson, Barry James, et al / Blu ray / NR / 2012 / Universal Studios)

Overview: In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, Cameron Mackintosh produced a unique, spectacular staging of the musical on a scale which had never been seen before.

Blu ray Verdict: I have to say, on a purely personal journalistic note (of course), that the 25th Anniversary performance of Phantom of the Opera, staged in Royal Albert Hall in London was, again in my opinion, very good. I actually watched it in a theater in Florida upon its original release was impressed by what was accomplished in that huge concert hall.

Was it the same experience as attending a performance at the Majestic Theater in New York, I hear you ask? No. However, one must expect that adjustments had to be made given the venue. Let's face it, there is no fly space, no wings, a large expanse, etc. which make it impossible to stage the production as would be done in a theater. Once a viewer accepts that it will be a different presentation, it is most enjoyable.

I am glad to have, at last, a complete recording of the show. This is the only one that exists for the general public. Is it perfect, again I hear you ask? No, but this was a live performance in a huge hall, with a huge audience with many set adjustments. The actors were, for the most part, quite good.

Ramin was an fairly good Phantom, but not the best I have heard sing the role. His pitch, at times, was a bit off. Sierra was a fine Christine. She had moments which were spectacular! Her 'Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again' was truly amazing. The sexual energy she exuded in 'Past The Point Of No Return' was very special also.

The role of Carlotta was very well played and stood out in this production. Overall, the cast was quite good. Thank God there were no former boy band stars cast in this production as was the case in the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary concert!

And, as I'm being rather picky here too, some things that are lacking (of course) from the overall spectacle include the "bringing down" of the chandelier (because it's fixed to the ceiling!); when the Phantom appears during 'Masquerade,' he does not walk menacingly down the stairs in time to the music. He appears standing still in a doorway (it just doesn't have the same impact!); and when Christine sees Phantom in the graveyard, he does not have the cane that shoots fire down upon Raul. Instead, he waves his hands as flames pop up from the stage :-(

That said, this kind of video recording should be encouraged in other shows - not only musicals - to share the beauty of live theatre with a wider audience. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.