Monday, October 15, 2012

Oh, The Phantom!

The longest-running musical show on Broadway is in the Philippines! Who wouldn't be excited?

Playing The Phantom was Jonathan Roxmouth--well-acclaimed for this role he has played so many times and which he has won several awards for; Christine was  Claire Lyon--a seasoned Australian performer who has also played this role and many others with such pizzaz. Raoul was played by Anthony Downing--another talent famed for his high-powered performances.

Everybody seemed to be all agog, flying to Manila just to watch the Phantom of the Opera and raving about it!   We decided to jump in and watch it too.

It was actually already the second run, since the season was supposed to have ended a month ago. But due to the astounding acceptance of the Filipinos nationwide, the producer/s  of the musical decided to extend it for another month.

Lady Luck smiled upon us that hubby was able to book us in orchestra middle seats of the left  wing, nine rows from the very front. It was a perfect vantage point to see the whole stage without having to constantly shift our eyes left and right to take in the whole view.

We were one of the early birds to arrive at the Cultural Center of the Philippines eager to watch the last performance on the last day of the show, October 14th.  Yes, but there were just too many early birds! :-)

While waiting for the grand doors of the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo to open, guests took turns taking pictures with the POTO tarpaulin-poster in the background.  The POTO was such an eventful opportunity that we couldn't dare pass up to immortalize.

Guests took the time to come to the venue looking their best, too! Some came a little bit over-dressed, or a bit under-dressed, or just-about-rightly dressed.  No matter, everybody was looking prepped up.  The ladies' room was filled, too, with  ladies who were not  using the loo but were busy fixing themselves up in front of the mirror.  The guys looked smart, and were content to be just standing in the main lobby.

At exactly 7:30 in the evening the doors to TNA were opened, and guests streamed in, welcomed by the giant mural that loomed right in the center of the lobby.  We were guided to our seats, and were told to switch off our phones and other gadgets that may interfere with the signals and disturb the show. Most complied, but there were some who complained, as if their lives would end, too, in the two hours that their cellphones were dead. (True enough, in the middle of  a breathtaking scene somebody's cellphone rang insistently, and  the audience chuckled chidingly.)

And so at 8 pm the show started.  How can I describe everything that my eyes and ears took in! If only there were a special printer that could get all the images from my mind and show them to you!  (But then by doing that I'd be committing a cybercrime, n'est pas?) Everything was spectacular! Oh, the chandelier!  Oh the magnificent staircase! Oh, the giant drapes! Oh, the costumes that they wore!  They must have used loads and loads of cloths, and beautiful pieces at that! (For this reason alone I'd say too bad they didn't allow anyone to take pictures inside!)

My favorite scenes were the boat rides in the underground lake when the Phantom took Christine to his lair.  It was ma-gi-caaal! All the candles lit and scattered all over the lake created the mystery and fantasy.  Oh, the  lake! Even in the second time when the two of them went there again, this time in a hostile air...the beauty remained.

I got this photo from Jonathan Roxmouth's Facebook account.  This is the best photo I could ever find of the scene, but this doesn't even give justice to the actual vision I saw on the stage.
Photo source:  Jonathan Roxmouth, Lake Scene

Words elude me as I am giddy from the freshness of it all.  But I just know all the audio-visual effects were stunning, amazing, wonderful.  Oh, the voices! I just sat there savoring all the wonderful voices, the emotions that they convey.  All sorts: happy, naughty, comic, sad, passionate, angry, terrified, ominous, and more.

The plot line used is a take-off  from the movie where the action begins at an auction. Since the Paris Opera House has closed, many props are being offered for bidding, and among these property for bid are the monkey with the cymbals and the magnificent chandelier.  When the chandelier is revealed, the flash back begins.  The ending, though, is not as we expect it to be.  It doesn't get to the point where Christine dies.  Only up to that scene when Christine gives him back his ring and leaves with Raoul (read: rol), and he disappears before he could be found, leaving behind only his mask.

 From time to time I would glance at the elderly conductor at the orchestra pit.  He
was tirelessly whipping his baton rhythmically throughout the show.  He was also mouthing the lines along with  every character. He could have been a one-man operatic show!  I would personally give him a standing ovation.

Speaking of which, come curtain call, everybody stood up and applauded for Anthony Downing, Claire Lyon, and most especially Jonathan Roxmouth.  The audience hollered special cheers to the lady who played Madam Carlotta Guidicelle, who was a comic relief in her own right in the musical.

Oh, the experience!  If I could I'd watch the opera over and over again!  But then, the first one is probably always the sweetest, so I'm pretty sure I'd be looking back at that moment with longing, with dreamy eyes and a nostalgic smile on my face, forever mesmerized!

The audience just can't have enough of the cast.  That's Anthony Downing looming above the rest.

The bus that takes the cast back to the hotel.  Lucky driver!


Gilbert Yap Tan said...

It was indeed a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. World-class/Broadway quality show in the metro! Bravo! :)

Spranzee said...

Yes, indeed, Sir G! Same goes for me. Bong got me a Phantom mug! :-)

Su Phesoj said...