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The Phantom of the Opera (12a).

Category: Phantom of the Opera Reviews
Article Date: January 11, 2005 | Publication: This is Hampshire | Author: Joanne Mace

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DIRECTOR Joel (The Lost Boys) Schumacher's new treatment of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera has its work cut out, given that successful stage-to-film treatments such as Grease and Chicago are more one-offs than the norm.

Indeed, the show he has been in charge of adapting is one of the world's most successful.

But, hurrah - it's nothing less than a gloriously-grandiose triumph!

This is a version of the stage show, not Gaston Leroux's gothic source novel, and Andrew Lloyd Webber produced and wrote the script.

Expectedly, it doesn't then deviate much from what is the well-tried-and-tested formula of the stunning West End stage production.

It doesn't mean, however, that it's routine and unthrilling - quite the opposite, in fact.

And for all the ladies who love a bit of sexy tormented male, the latter doesn't come in a much more attractive form than the phantom, and his incarnation here, Gerard Butler.

Throwing his cape around labyrinthine dungeons, all the while breaking his heart and singing as if his life depended on it, it's a hard soul who wouldn't be affected by his tragic fate.

The story takes place in an opera house in 1870s Paris, where the resident diva, Carlotta (Minnie Driver, doing a weird J-Lo/Nadia impression "Bringga mea mya doggie"), is replaced by chorus girl Christine Daee (Emmy Rossum from The Day After Tomorrow) after a spooky accident.

Daee has been unwittingly voice-trained by the phantom, who then becomes enraged when she starts a romantic relationship with Raoul (a drippy Patrick Wilson).

The two and a half hours of this film are a fabulous journey, but perhaps I should warn you that it's 90 per cent sung, and it's also highly camp in places - as all good musicals should be.

If the sight of two drenched men in frilly white shirts singing to each other isn't your cup of tea, then maybe you should stay away from this one.

But for the rest of us, it's a very cheap way to partake in the production's success, given that tickets for the live theatrical version are currently about GBP 40.

The songs, including All I Ask of You and The Phantom of the Opera, have thankfully not been radically reinterpreted, and neither have the big moments of the show - the lifting of the chandelier for instance, or the phantom's boating descent into his underworld.

The latter, set to The Music of the Night, is perhaps the best set piece, as the couple race down candle-lit corridors, and Christine even gets up on a big white horse.

The leads (except Driver) did all their own impressive vocal work, with Rossum making a particular impact despite her youth - she's 17.

Yes, Miranda Richardson may be the only person speaking with a French accent, but this is such a quality, passionate production that even ex-Brooksider Jennifer Ellison escapes completely unscathed.

Highly recommended for all lovers of musicals - and willing converts to an escapist, enchanting spectacle.


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