A meeting with the Phantom in Hong Kong

A meeting with the Phantom in Hong Kong

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom has been a hit since its release almost 30 years ago. Does the musical still have the power to entertain today?


The duo of Brad Little as the Phantom and Claire Lyon as Christine bring Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical to life.
The duo of Brad Little as the Phantom and Claire Lyon as Christine bring Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical to life.

Acclaimed as the most popular musical in the world, The Phantom of the Opera returned to Hong Kong last month after eight long years. Young Post junior reporter Sophie Mak watched the musical, and this is what she thought.

Set in the 19th century, in the fictional Opera Populaire, The Phantom of the Opera is a classic story of romance and suspense. The heart-wrenching tale, much-loved musical numbers and mesmerising stage effects have made it Broadway's longest-running show.

Hongkongers were given a chance to see the production in the AsiaWorld-Expo, and experience the Parisian glory for themselves. The show was a treat for the eyes and ears, with amazing performances from a stellar cast.

The story revolves around the Phantom, a mysterious musical genius who hides his disfigured face behind a mask and haunts the opera house. Brad Little was cast as the title character.

Having performed as the Phantom more than 2,250 times on Broadway and on world tours, Little is a seasoned pro at providing depth and nuance to his complicated character. He was able to inject emotion and passion with a voice that can be vengeful and dangerous, yet at times soft and sympathetic.

This is especially true in the powerfully tender Music of the Night. In the song, the Phantom sings about how even though he lives in the shadows, avoiding the world, he can still be as beautiful and talented as anyone else.

Little's voice perfectly captured the spirit and soul of the Phantom. He clearly understood the character's extreme loneliness and yearning for self-expression. He displayed power and strength as well as softness and emotion. His hypnotic, passionate singing gave me goosebumps.

Claire Lyon played Christine Daae, a beautiful soprano who is the object of the Phantom's obsessive love.

Lyon, having performed the same role in the recent world tours, did a superb job. She showcased Christine's emotion and character, exhibiting naivety and vulnerability throughout the show. She had a lovely voice, and she was able to deliver notes with clarity and volume. You could never believe that such a tiny person could have such a powerful voice.

Even when reaching the extremely difficult high notes in her famous number Think of Me, an aria of a young girl who dreams of love, she still sounded like an angel.

Lyon was a charming performer, moving effortlessly through the many stages of her character, through the innocent to the scared, the hypnotised to the confused. I fell in love with her the moment she appeared on stage.

The two leads worked well together and their voices complimented each other perfectly. The magnificent chemistry between the actors was evident in the title song The Phantom of the Opera. The sound, complete with synthesizer and electric guitar, blew everyone out of their seats. I was most impressed by Lyon's high notes and Little's total power and commanding stage presence.

The story remained gripping from beginning to end, thanks to the spectacular scenery, and brisk changes in the setting. The action swiftly moved from a ballet scene on the opera house stage to a romantic rooftop meeting, followed by the crashing of a majestic chandelier back in the opera house. The fast-paced action amazed the audience.

The elaborate and detailed make-up, costumes and lighting effects produced constant magic. In one memorable scene, Christine sees the Phantom as a mirage in her dressing room mirror. Then he suddenly appears and takes her on a breathtaking journey through the caverns and underground waterways beneath the opera house to his lair.

The production's magic peaks in the festive costume ball sequence, Masquerade, which was beautifully choreographed. The colourful costumes, masks and wigs worn by the large cast as they danced at the top of a long staircase proved a high point in the performance.

Overall, it was a breathtaking production. Andrew Lloyd Webber's Tony Award-winning musical is as timeless and haunting as ever.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
ExperiencingThe Music of the Night


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