10 Reasons to Watch The Phantom of the Opera in Manila

It’s more than just the music.

(SPOT.ph) Andrew Lloyd Webber's critically acclaimed masterpiece is finally opening in Manila! As early as July, ticket sales skyrocketed, prompting the producers to add 16 more shows to the season-to think the run hasn’t even started yet. Critics say that if you've never seen a musical play in your entire life, The Phantom of the Opera would be the best show to introduce you to the world of musicals. Here are 10 reasons why you shouldn't miss Broadway's longest running show.

1.    The Phantom and Raoul are hot. Fans who know the story by heart can empathize with lead character Christine, who has to choose between her love for childhood friend Raoul and the troubled Phantom. When Spot.ph met the cast during the press junket, we couldn't help but compare (and ogle) the two heartthrobs-Jonathan Roxmouth as The Phantom and Anthony Downing as Raoul. We're torn between Jonathan's bad-boy looks and gregariousness and Anthony's poster boy looks and mysterious personality. Guess we'll have to see them perform live to make a decision.


Jonathan Roxmouth plays The Phantom and Anthony Downing plays Raoul

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2.    Christine loves Manila, and vice-versa. As soon as Claire Lyon landed in Manila, the Australian soprano instantly connected with her Filipino fans. She took to Twitter and Facebook to interact with fans who have been giving her tips on where to shop and dine. "I'm going to Greenbelt and the tiangge!" she told us during the interview. As for playing the lead role, Claire is "the perfect Christine," said producer Tim McFarlane. "She has the most exquisite voice which imbues the role with just the right blend of vulnerability, passion, and tragedy." Claire played the older Christine in the 2011 Australian production of Love Never Dies, the sequel to Phantom. "Now I just have to turn the clock back 10 years," she said.

Claire Lyon plays Christine


3.    There’s a Pinoy who’s part of the ensemble. "I still can't believe I'm part of it," shared Dondi Ong, who is the only Filipino cast member for the international tour of Phantom. The UP College of Music valedictorian successfully auditioned for the worldwide search for a tenor to join the ensemble. Dondi is alternating with South African opera performer Thabiso Masemene for the role of Ubaldo Piangi.

Dondi Ong plays Ubaldo Piangi


4.    The show boasts of a global cast. They flew in the cast and crew of 130 people from eight different countries. As they say in the world of theater, there are no small parts-only small actors, and each actor plays a vital role in Phantom. The original West End production in 1986 had 230 costumes and 14 dressers for the cast, crew, and orchestra members. We look forward to seeing how it all comes together in CCP.


A scene from one of the international performances

5.    They're using original costumes from 25 years ago, including designs by the late Maria Bjornson. She designed extensively for theater, opera, and ballet, and her costumes for The Phantom of the Opera won numerous accolades, including two Tony Awards. If you'd like to get a glimpse of the dazzling wardrobe, check out the Phantom exhibits at Rustan's Makati, Rustan's Alabang, and Greenbelt 3.

The Phantom of the Opera exhibit at Greenbelt 3


6.    The music is timeless. Even if you've never seen the musical, we're pretty sure you've heard of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's award-winning compositions such as "The Music of the Night" and "All I Ask of You." Album sales-including the original cast recording, foreign language recordings, studio recordings, and the 2004 film soundtrack-have exceed $40 million in sales. We can't wait to hear these classics performed onstage.




7.    It's one of the greatest love stories of all time. Forget about Romeo and Juliet or Bella and Edward for a minute; the dark tone of The Phantom of the Opera surpasses your usual bubblegum love story. Based on the novel, Le Fantôme de l’Opéra, by French writer Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of a disfigured musical genius known only as The Phantom who haunts the Paris Opera House. Mesmerized by the young soprano, Christine, the Phantom lures her as his protégé and falls madly in love with her. Unaware of Christine's love for her childhood friend, Raoul, The Phantom goes on a mad obsession that shifts the course of the story. Christine, in the meantime, questions her true feelings for the Phantom.

One of the poignant scenes of Christine and The Phantom


8.    The set design and special effects are world-class. In the original production, 2,230 meters of fabric were used to make the drapes-900 of them specially dyed. The 226-meter tasseled fringes were made up of 250 kilos of dyed wool interwoven with 5,000 wooden beads. While we expect a tamer version for the Manila run, we're counting on the P15 million budget that the production spent to bring the "jaw-dropping scenery and breathtaking special effects" to CCP.




9.   They flew in the infamous chandelier, the most indelible element of the set. The original replica of the Paris Opera House chandelier measures three meters wide, weighs one ton, and is decorated with 6,000 beads. The tour version of the chandelier falls at 2.5 meters per second for the overture/crashing scene.


10.    You can stalk the cast. We're not kidding. Diamond Hotel is the official residence of the cast and crew of The Phantom of the Opera, and they're offering promo packages and discounts to fans beginning August 25. Try the "Music of the Night" package, which includes an overnight accommodation and breakfast for two, two tickets to the show, and free transport to and from CCP. There's a big chance you'll run into the cast having tea or dinner at the hotel. For more info about the promos, call Diamond Hotel at (02) 528-3000 loc. 1140 to 43.



Watch The Phantom of the Opera from August 25 to September 30, 2012 at the CCP Main Theater, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Roxas Blvd. Pasay City. Tickets are available via Ticketworld. Ticket prices: P7,280, P6,032, P4,680, P3,640, P2,340, and P1,820. For more info, visit facebook.com/POTOManila and ticketworld.com.ph.


Photos by Zai Boongaling. Additional photos courtesy of Concertus Manila

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