The original Les Miserables in the 90s set a benchmark for Ballarat Lyric Theatre, the current production of The Phantom of the Opera finally takes its place as the best musical the company has staged.
From the amazing opening when the chandelier rises above the audience to the dramatic ending, audiences will been enthralled by superb singing, special effects, costumes, sound, lighting and performances equal to many professional versions of this international show. Bravo to Director Stephen O'Neil for his brilliant work on this show.
And bravo to the entire production team as this is truly a total group effort. Often in these local productions the team behind the scenes don't get the accolades they deserve yet it is these tireless people who make the show a success.
Congratulations to everyone involved with Phantom from Glenn Fisher for this work on the chandelier, Scott Snowden for the effects, Josh Noble's clever set, Damian Muller's stage managing and the very talented Cathy Heenan for outstanding makeup.
The shows highlights are many including the Choreography by Vanessa Sheehan, Choral work by Andy McCalman and the superb costumes created and designed by Rodney Green. These would look good in a west end show.
While we are on highlights, Andy McCalman also brings his superb singing voice and acting to the role of The Phantom skilfully defining the character as an impressively powerful, yet tragic figure. This production also give audiences the opportunity to witness the making of a new star in 17 year old Molly Fry as Christine Daaé.
This young lady will become a major player in Australian entertainment in the future. Not since a young Marina Prior enchanted us as Christine has someone shown so much potential. Shaune Davis plays the young romantic lead Raoul and in this, his very first show nails the beautiful score.
Christine Vanderkley is the elegant, all knowing ballet mistress Madame Giry and April Foster plays the Diva Carlotta with plenty of vocal and stage presence. Keith McNamara is the perfect foil for Carlotta tantrums and adds a nice touch of comedy. Callan Lewis and Gareth Grainger bring the rest of the much needed humour for the night as the colourful theatre managers Firmin and Andre, both are first class.
The role of the young dancer Meg is also well cast with a delightful performance from Meg Brandenburg. The remaining principals who cover different roles are Scott Leggo, Ben Knight and Benjamin Reginato all supported by an outstanding ensemble of singers and dancers.
Andrew Lloyd Webbers music is why The Phantom of the Opera is now the longest running show on Broadway, and Musical Director Ian Govan and his magnificent orchestra do great justice to the original score.
The famous line in the show from Piangi the opera singer where he calls the company amateurs, reminds us that the only amateur element of this show is that the cast and crew don't get paid.