One of the most successful musicals of all time, ‘The Phantom of the Opera,' Broadway's longest-running show, which is celebrating its 29th year, will be performed in Istanbul for the first time
There are very few haunting musical scores and majestic visuals of which viewers can easily fall under the spell like Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera," Broadway's longest-running and second-highest grossing musical. The winner of over 70 theater awards will be visiting Istanbul for the first time in April with an international cast, sumptuous stage design and costumes.
Two years ago in summer, I was in a rush to get to Her Majesty's Theater with a couple of friends to watch the musical. The historic West End theater situated in Haymarket, London has been home to Webber's hit production for 29 years since its 1986 debut with Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman in the leading roles. We were a few minutes late, but the colorful stage pulled me like a magnet as I entered the hall. Each costume and stage effect was evidence of why the musical has received so many good reviews.
Those familiar with the story of the "Phantom," a disfigured musical genius hiding in the depths of the Paris Opera House, might recall the famous crushing chandelier scene when the performance reaches its climax. Adapted from the 1911 novel of the same name by French author Gaston Leroux, "The Phantom of the Opera" presents a love triangle between a half-masked man ashamed of his appearance, young soprano Christine Daae and her dashing childhood friend Vicomte Raoul de Chagny. Viewed from a certain angle, the two-act musical represents an ordinary gothic romance. Unaware of Christine's feelings for Raoul, the Phantom is greatly obsessed with Christine and considers her his protege. At this very point, the audience understands how the stage presence and musical talents of the cast have turned it into a timeless story showing no signs of wear. Take the masquerade sequence as an example. Everyone at the opera house comes together for a masked ball on New Year's Eve. Some of them appear on a giant sweeping staircase. The scene was indeed a true visual feast featuring an array of lavish costumes and elegant dance. Of course, the Phantom in his red costume was the most flamboyant one of all.
Another appealing scene comes when Christine takes a bizarre journey to the Phantom's lair. Candles rise from the stage and Christine appears with the Phantom on a boat moving across a secret underground lake. Meanwhile, the audience listens to the musical's best-known song - "Music of the Night" and "the Phantom of the Opera." Even the young soprano is unable to remain silent against the Phantom's obsession for her.
If you wonder how the musical has become one of the greatest productions of all time, you also have to consider its perfect set design with its historical themes. The actors of the Opera House take you to the time of military commander Hannibal with his slave girls and elephants. It is completely up to your taste, but the show promises an engaging night and might be an opportunity to discover the musical culture of Britain.
Last year, "The Phantom of the Opera" celebrated its 11,000th performance on Broadway. Directed by Harold Prince, it has been performed for more than 140 million people in over 27 countries around the world. British lyricist Charles Hart rewrote most of the lyrics of the musical. The total worldwide gross is more than $6 billion. Weber's Phantom has won various awards including three Olivier Awards, seven Tony Awards, seven Drama Desk Awards and three Outer Critic Circle Awards. According to the Guardian, five productions of the show tour in the U.S. along with others in Germany for 15 years and Japan for 16 years.
Different screen adaptations of Leroux's novel have been released such as the 1925 silent horror film of the same title. American director Arthur Lubin produced a re-make of the 1925 film in 1943. More recently, a 2004 British adaptation of the musical stars famed Scottish actor Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum. Produced and co-written by Webber, the movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
The Asia Pacific cast of the Phantom of the Opera is expected at Istanbul's Zorlu Performing Arts Center (PSM) from April 7 to May 17. Experienced American theater actor Brad Little will appear as the Phantom accompanied by Emilie Lynn as Christine and Anthony Downing as "Raoul." Ticket prices ranges from 59 TL to 250 TL ($23 to $96) on weekdays and from 67 TL to 275 TL at the weekends. A not-to-be-missed show will be ready to thrill the city soon.