Currently on stage in Walthamstow’s dedicated theatre space. upstairs at the Olde Rose & Crown on Hoe St, is in-house professional theatre company All Star Productions’ latest musical – Phantom.
Based on the Gaston Leroux novel, this version of Phantom follows the libretto and score devised by Maury Weston and Arthur Kopit (rather than the more well-known Andrew Lloyd Webber creation) and tells the familiar story of the disfigured prodigy who stalks the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, only to fall in love with his protege Christine, with tragic consequences. Although there have been over one thousand productions of this version since itse release in 1991, the show at the Olde Rose & Crown is the first time that it has been tackled by a professional company in the UK.
Directed by Dawn Kalani Cowle with musical direction and orchestration by Aaron Clingham, the production involves a very impressive cast of fifteen performing a whole catalogue of catchy musical numbers, opening with the scintillating Melody De Paris. Playing leading lady Christine is Kira Morsley, who has a stunning singing voice that is more than equal to the role, while the very capable Kieran Brown conjures up an alternately menacing and vulnerable Phantom, at his best when performing his duet with Christine, You Are Music, and the poignant My Mother Bore Me. Another notable member of the cast is Pippa Winslow as Carlotta, the scheming wife of the Opera House’s new owner – her song This Place Is Mine is full of lines that swing wildly between strangled and rasped utterances and full-throated operatic outbursts, often to great comical effect. Hiding her light under a bushel until near the end of the play when she takes on the role of the Phantom’s mother, Belladova, is Elizabeth Atkinson who shows in The Story Of Erik that she is arguably a singer of even greater facility than Morsley, if such a thing is possible…
All Star Productions’ really should be written up as a case study – it proves without a shadow of a doubt that it is possible to shrink a show that has all the qualities and production values of a West End extravaganza onto a tiny stage. Remarkably, despite the large cast the production never once feels cramped, and set designer Jenny Gamble and lighting designer Sky Bembury somehow manage to evoke the oppressive atmosphere of the catacombs with only the most basic tools at their disposal.
Phantom is a real tour-de-force – the equal of anything you’ll see over in W1 right now, and for a much more reasonable financial outlay – tickets are priced at a very reasonable £15 (£12.50 concessions). The production runs through until Friday 31 May.