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"THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA"
Earlier Opinions from Theatremonkey Contributors

Please note: Some reviews can contain "spoilers" - please don't read if this bothers you!

Back to Show Information.

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You all make Phantom sound dreadful, so any one just put off by what these other people have written - ignore them ! 

I may only be 13 but I've seen 14 West End shows and Phantom Of The Opera is the best out of them all. It made Fame look infamous and Cats look run over! The music is so beautiful and the set amazed me with the chandelier and staircase.

 I want to see it again as soon as I can get ticket. All my friends are annoyed about me keeping going on about it and how they should see it . I give it 9/10 (only 9 because I had bad seats and could not enjoy the show to it's full extent) 

Edward Bernstone
_______________

One small word of warning-do not go to the stage door to see the cast! We did, and this vision in baggy shorts, spikey hair and sunglasses was The Phantom!!! We would have preferred to think of him walking round in swirling mist in his black suit, and living in the theatre!!! 

Ah well, still the best show there is, cannot see it enough times, and we still cry during it, and wish Christine would choose the Phantom instead!
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Sorry Theatremonkey, I normally take your word as gospel but I simply have to disagree with you about Phantom of the Opera. I have seen a number of West End musicals and I have to say that not one of them has even come close to the sheer brilliance of Phantom.

That said, I would recommend people to read the book first as, like so many eighties musicals, storyline does tend to take a backseat, with the main emphasis being on spectacle and so it can be just a bit difficult to work out. Although the story in the book is very different, having read it made the show much more enjoyable.

This is a really great and unique show which will probably never be matched.

William Cooper
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Well, Theatre Monkey, I have been to see the Phantom again, and it is just the best. I have the soundtrack of the original, but I must say, the present Phantom knocks spots of Michael Crawford. Every performance he put his heart and soul in, Christine is very good too, but Raoul?? Less said the better!

I have two more bookings to go, and am in danger of turning into a nerd, but really, just the best show there is!

____________

It was a dear wish of mine to go to see Phantom, and for my birthday I was treated by the family to the show. I loved every single minute of it. The cast and costumes, the music was superb. The actor who played the Phantom could not be faulted. When the chandelier lifted up to the ceiling over our heads and the music started I unashamedly cried. 

They work so hard to make the show one of the best I have ever been lucky enough to see. Wishing You Were Here Again is a great favourite of mine. My friend who came with me has bought me the CD of the show so I can sit on this computer and drift back in my mind to that memorable Saturday afternoon matinee 2 week's ago. I know this much, one day God willing, I shall be back in the second row again.

Angie Christie (Mrs)
Sudbury, Suffolk.
_________________

I tried to keep an open mind. Part of me was hoping for amazing music, awe-inspiring sets and an emotional rollercoaster of a story. However, having read a couple of scathing reviews (the Theatremonkey Opinion included), the more rational part of me was expecting a load of over-sentimentalized nonsense. The latter turned out to be the case.

To be fair, it was very well done: the sets were impressive, and the execution was pretty flawless. But then they have been practicing twice a day for nearly a couple of decades so you'd expect it to have come together by now!

The plot was pretty lame, all the excitement was gone for me by the end of the first half. Most of it was drowning in an excess of sentimentality and melodrama. It was quite incredible, and at the same time pathetic, to see the Phantom assiduously wringing every possible drop of emotion out of, well, pretty much every line he was given.

The silver lining for me had to be the 80s music: not long into the first half the synthesizer kicked in, shortly followed by the drum-beat which I'm guessing originated from the same lame 80s Casio organ (they must have been taking good care of it for it to last so long..). I'm glad these relics haven't been updated, they certainly gave me a good laugh!

I'm glad I saw the show, just so I could see what the fuss was all about, but it does confuse me as to why it's so popular. I'm thinking much of the audience were foreign tourists dutifully making their way round the London tourist trail. I find it hard to see the discerning person finding much appeal in Phantom of the Opera. Or am I missing something...?

Bromley
Swansea
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Right on, monkey - what a lacklustre event Phantom at Her Majesty's has become. I've seen the show a handful of times in town and on tour, but never before have I experienced such a soulless performance by such a tired-looking cast. 

Sloppy movement, limp voices, technical hitches - we had them all. John Owen-Jones made a decidedly un-menacing Phantom (great Valjean but ropey Phantom - remind you of anyone?) and Christine wasn't a shade of the beautiful, haunted talent she once was. 

The lack of dazzling performances also meant that I had more time to consider the technical merit of the show - the lighting looks dated, the flying looks basic and sluggish (two of the guys from the auction house having to shoulder charge the chandelier off stage in the overture? Please.) and the sound design needs perking up and mixing LOUDER! Save your money for the tour, guys - at least they *have to* keep that one sharp. Or just go see Les Mis for the 1,500th time.... :)

Al Queenan
alqueenan@yahoo.com
 

The above two comments drew this reply from previous reviewer Will Cooper:

I'd just like to counter some of your most recent and scathing phantom reviews. How can you expect a musical about Opera to be anything but Melodrama?????? Opera is an extremely symbolised art form and Phantom manages to capture it's darkness and romanticism beautifully. If you want to see upbeat and twee dance numbers choreographed to perfection I can give you directions to the Adelphi!

I noticed you also attacked the disco inspired title track. Please don't forget this was written long before the rest of the show at a time when the aim of the project was still a parody rather the thick and heady romantic spectacle that it became. So if it's slightly less Operatic than the rest- this is forgivable. Besides which, Phantom is a classic "OF IT'S TIME". Nobody accuses "Madam Butterfly" or "Carmen" of being out of date because their musical styles are obsolete. You have to accept "Phantom" as a period piece and one of the last glittering relics of the golden age of London Theatre which the 1980's undoubtedly were. 

Listened to Les Mis recently? proof that an orchestra and Europop are hardly mutually exclusive.

I find it bizarre that you would attack the staging and fly work of "Phantom". In my opinion, "Phantom" was the last major musical not to be simply a product of technology. Given a big enough budget, landing helicopters, flying cars or video screens do not prove a challenge to the set designer, whereas "Phantom's" "coups de theatre" are achieved almost entirely with VICTORIAN stage workings. 

"Phantom" is a model of stagecraft which has sadly been lost to technology. "Phantom" is one of very few shows where you can actually feel lost in the action. Another limitation of Her Majesty's theatre is that it is acoustically bad and offers dismal views. Get over it!! ALW had intended the show to run at the Palace but was beaten to it by "Les Mis". I think we can all be glad he didn't wait for Mr. Schönberg's work to move out or London Theatre would look very different today.

Finally the performances, I would say John Owen Jones is one of the finest Phantom's of them all, easily outstripping Michael Crawford vocally. Whilst the current Christine is not the best, we have to remember that this is one of the most demanding roles musical theatre has ever created. Besides which, Christine is intended to start with a weak voice and gradually become stronger, reflecting her increased knowledge of the world and its darkness. If you dismiss her in the first scene. You do the entire show a disservice and are clearly not understanding the subtle symbolism of this 'sentimental melodrama'! (ironic statement)

And another thing, RAOUL IS SUPPOSED TO BE A WEAK CHARACTER. He lacks charisma in order to allow us to build up empathy with the Phantom. Try to understand the show before you slate it people!

Thanks very much for letting me rant, 

Will Cooper
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Theatremonkey, you are great for a lot of things but your opinion of Phantom is just plain wrong.

I've seen many shows and this is undoubtedly the greatest of them all. So what it the emotion is overblown? It only emphasis's the passion! The songs are fantastic, the set is amazing and the storyline is exciting, maddening, and devastating all at once. She should have got the Phantom!!!

I've seen it several times now and can't wait to go again!

One word of advise to first timers though, make sure you're sat in the first seven rows of the stalls or the first three of the dress circle. These make lots of difference to the quality of viewing! The last time we had the front row centre and the chandelier was terrifying!

Becky
Pontefract

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I saw "Phantom" on the 31st of May 2003 for the second time. John Owen-Jones and Celia Graham played the lead roles and were fantastic. I thought that after hearing  the original cast on my CD so many times I would be disappointed but I wasn't. 

The Phantom was sung just as well or even better than Michael  Crawford, and Celia played Christine very well - she sang with a voice that was  as it is supposed to be, clear and clean. 

I was only disappointed by "Masquerade". It looked like there wasn't enough people to fill the stage and the grand  staircase made a loud noise whilst being folded away, drowning out the orchestra. 

>My mum and I sat in seats 18 and 19 of row A in the Upper Circle. They were very good seats as the bar was only slightly blocking our view. The chandelier was amazing and just above our heads and I felt like I could  almost touch it when it flew in front of me at the beginning of act one!

I was  rather annoyed when a man came to the front of the Circle and told everyone to lean back. I just ignored him, because if I had lent back half the cast would  have been beheaded by the bar.

It was a brilliant show and I want to see it  again. For once theatremonkey I think you are wrong.

Edward Bernstone 
aged 14.

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Sat in Row C Centre of Dress Circle (perfect) at only £30 (an offer price not always available).

Eternally touching, a glorious (although occasionally dated) show, with a huge scale of emotions packed in. 'Wishing you were somehow here again' in the grave is a richly powerful song, and the lead roles had voices which were shattering. They played Christine and The Phantom to perfection.

This is the third time I've seen POTO, and each time the ending keeps the relentless pace, and the huge contrast of feelings - sensational! If you like the theatre, a must see, regardless of the opinions and stereotypes!

Beautiful, subtle, and heartbreaking...

Alf
____________________

I took my mum and my boyfriend to see this show in October 2003, for my mum's 60th birthday.  All three of us thought it was absolutely outstanding: John Owen-Jones was so powerful and charismatic as the Phantom, his voice was amazing (I was only sorry we didn't see as much of him as I would have liked!), and Katie Knight-Adams looked beautiful and sounded wonderful as Christine.  I was totally "involved" whilst watching this one, feeling exhilarated and frightened, then sentimental and even a little tearful at the end!!  It really was entertainment at its best.

I cannot recommend this show enough, and we will all definitely be going again.  The only point from Theatre Monkey's review that I do agree with is that Christine should definitely have got the Phantom!!

Jane
____________________ 

I recently went to see 'The Phantom of the Opera' and thought it was excellent! John Owen-Jones was particularly great as the Phantom - his voice was amazing, and the finale where he tells Christine and Raoul to leave him was devastating!

Rachel Barrell was also excellent as Christine. The rest of the cast were generally good, although Oliver Thornton as Raoul unfortunately, was pretty awful.

The show itself is unfortunately starting to look a bit tired - some of the choreography and performances could do with being 'tightened up' a bit, and the proscenium arch of the intertwined naked figures could do with a good clean - and some of the drapes need washing!

I was sat in seat 21 of row A of the grand (upper) circle, and have to disagree with Theatre Monkey's comments about there being a bar intruding on the view here. I had an absolutely brilliant view here. The balcony ledge only comes up to just under waist height, and there is a narrow bar which comes up slightly higher. I could see all the stage perfectly clearly without leaning forward at all (and I'm only average height - 5ft8"). The bar only obstructed the view of the orchestra pit which was hardly a problem. In fact, I think it's far preferable to have a ledge/bar below the view of the stage, than be behind a row of people who could be more of an obstruction.

Unfortunately, the audience seemed as badly behaved as ever at this show - one woman sat behind me was munching crisps during the first act, whilst a man sat behind me was translating the show for his friend.

Despite some of the performances not being so good, and it starting to look a bit tired, 'The Phantom of the Opera' is still a great spectacle and a thrilling piece of theatre.

Chris Rouse.
November 2004
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After the upset and disappointment of "Sweeney Todd" (2004)....................

....................we went to see this, which was in a word..... magic!!!!

I really cannot praise the show enough. We sat in the Grand Circle in the front row and didn't find the bar an obstruction at all. although we are both over 6ft tall, which no doubt helped.

What a spectacle! the theatre, the sets, the costumes, the effects, it was absolutely amazing from beginning to end.

The entire cast gave excellent performances, my personal favorite was Carlotta, who was a great bitchy prima-donna!!!

I have to disagree with the other reviewers who have said Raoul was "awful", he's meant to be lame and drippy, that's the idea!

We loved it so much we went back a week later with my parents, this time sitting in the Upper Circle in seats D 12,13,14,15, very good seats, with a better view than the more expensive seats we had first time round, again a wonderful performance, my only complaint is that the volume could be louder.

We've booked again................totally hooked!!!

You must see this show, at least once!!!!!

(second visit, 9th February 2005) 

Managed to get 3 tickets in the stalls row M, seats 20,21,22 - checked out this guide and thought fair value was acceptable.

Yet again the show was fantastic, it just gets better every time I see it, you notice parts that you totally missed the first time round. the cast were magnificent.

I must comment on the helpfulness of the theatre staff, as my grandmother uses a wheel chair, we were approached on entering the theatre by staff and taken round to a side door, shown the disabled toilets and taken to our seats before the crowds came in.

Our interval drinks order was taken and a selection of gifts from the kiosk was bought round to our seats of which nanny bought ............the lot!!

We all thoroughly enjoyed the show and when the crowds had dispersed the staff bought out our wheelchair and had a good old natter with nanny asking her what she thought of the performance. 

Customer service at its best!

I must say the seats were fantastic, I totally disagree with other reviewers who have said to avoid the stalls, by far the best seats we've had seeing this show. I was worried that the stage would be high and we'd get a crook neck from looking up, but the stage is low and the view was amazing, we couldn't see the chandelier going up once it had passed the Grand Circle, due to the overhang, but that's a small price to pay for such a clear and close view of the cast.

Can't wait to see it again, amazing!!!!

Jamie Coniam
London
___________________

Saw this last night (30th March 2005) and unfortunately we didn’t enjoy this show.

Our biggest mistake with this show was not to note the seat numbers to avoid. We had 2 seats in row B of stalls (front row), what a nightmare, No leg room at all!!!!!!

People next to us were really annoyed especially as these are top price seats!

I have read other reviews and it appears most people love "Phantom" but we didn’t feel it was worth the visit. I appreciate it is an operatic production, but when all the characters sang different lines at the same time it just came across as a cacophony of noise. I was aware my Husband was uncomfortable all night and it was a pleasure when it was all over. 

Saying that I thought the set and costumes were well produced. Rachel Barrell as Christine and Oliver Thornton as The Phantom had amazing voices.

I suppose you either love it or hate it and unfortunately we fell into the latter.

Chris
___________________

I am a huge, huge Phantom fan and firmly believe that the show is the best in the West End but after seeing it last night (29th April 2005) I was hideously disappointed.

The show was appalling. It was quite painful to see it in front of me. Why? Quite simply it was the cast. My first moan goes to Raoul (who is currently played by Oliver Thornton). Now I have see the Phantom just over 10 times now - he is far below the standard of any other Raoul I have ever seen. I do believe that he single handedly ruined the show. His performance was a disgrace and how he got such a coveted part I will never know. His voice is much too weak, his acting is poor and the way he reads Raoul and decides to play him is insensitive and irritating. Because of this - for the first time, I didn't care what happened at the end of the musical.

Earl Carpenter as the Phantom showed potential, but isn't up to such a challenging role. His portrayal is very simple in such a complex work, and it seemed as if he was just bashing through the songs - like sight-reading. This was incredibly disappointing too.

The supporting cast were fairly anonymous too. None put in a noticeable or commendable performance and didn't help to arouse any emotions within the audience for how we should feel towards any character. They just dragged the whole thing out. None of them deserved to have such wonderful roles in such a wonderful musical.

In fact, the only positive to come from such an abysmal evening was Rachel Barrell as Christine. She was very impressive and did the musical justice - easily bettering Sarah Brightman for anyone who listens to the original CD. She played Christine with great intricacy and sensitivity. Unfortunately - £50 is rather a stiff price to pay to see such a good performer.

So for a show which is all about the relationships between the characters it failed. It was rather sad to see a show I love being massacred. I had no idea such incredible music could be ruined so easily. I left feeling cheated.

As for my verdict - it is still the best show in London and a must see (many times)! But wait until this cast moves on. I wish they would hurry up...

Alf
___________________

I went to see Phantom of the Opera just after Christmas time. I had possibly the worst seats in the house, due to late booking. (Balcony) Still, I didn't expect to miss half the show. 

I was extremely disappointed. Not that I had a bad night, I did enjoy it, its just that it was nothing near as good as everyone made it out to be.

Yes- the show had an amazing and powerful set...but if you can't see it...what's the point? I was very annoyed that the whole thing was played to the Stalls, because not everyone can afford £50 a ticket. The only way I would go and see Phantom again is if I sat in the Stalls, but I'm not prepared to pay £50 for a show I didn't rate that highly.

My main problem is that the music is boring. If a musical doesn't have good music, it is pointless to me. The 3 or 4 good tunes are all played in the first half an hour, which leaves a good two hours of "musical mess". So, I couldn't see the stage properly, and I couldn't just close my eyes and listen.

The whole show is hidden behind a huge chandelier, and some very talented singers.
__________________

Well, what can I say? It was as fabulous as ever!!!

Rachel Barrell is the best Christine I have ever seen, it was such a relief to see a real actress/singer after the horrors of Emi Rosum in the movie. Rachel is by far the best singer I have ever seen in the part, not sounding in pain or like she was struggling. Her character was a bit cold for my liking and sometimes quite aggressive, but still fab.

>Then we move on to Oliver Thornton, well, what positive thing can I say? Well, he was very good looking - that's where the positives end. I do realise that the part of Raoul is not well, good, it seems the writers got board when they got to his part!! But come on, he could of tried to make his character a little less boring or camp. Still, it was a relief to hear a non-American accent (both Patric Wilson and Emi Rosum needed voice coaching).

Erl Carpenter was good, but not in the league of John Owen Jones, who is fab.

The curtains need a good wash (as an earlier reviewer noted, I think), but it was still great!!!
Come on, recast already!!

Edward Bernstone 
(phantom fan)
__________________

I somehow managed to miss seeing Phantom of the Opera until the end of May 2005. I can't compare the current cast with any other but they didn't strike me as anything special. Earl Carpenter as the Phantom was rather subdued and didn't have the edge of menace I felt he should have had. I couldn't decide if he was deliberately lisping at times in "Music of the Night" or if the mask was constricting his mouth. Oliver Thornton as Raoul was also weak but I found his character unbelievable anyway and the love affair didn't engage my emotions at all. Rachel Barrell as Christine sung with considerable volume (but see below) and was the best of the cast.

A feature of the performance I'd never really been forced to consider before in the theatre was the amplification of the singers. It all seemed too loud to me and at times I found the level almost painful. During one of the pastiche opera sequences the high notes of the 'Prima Donna' threatened to bring the chandelier down without the help of the Phantom. It gave the whole performance a strident edge that I did not enjoy.

I was sitting in B21 in the Dress Circle which should have been fine as I'm 5'11" but two people in front of me actually blocked a lot of the view (they also rustled bags to show each other their shopping for large sections of the show). They were asked by the staff to stop leaning forward onto the front of the Dress Circle though, but they still obscured a lot of my view. A child near to me was given a cushion but still had problems seeing properly.

I didn't really enjoy this show much and wonder if it's getting a little tired now. 

Jon.
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I took my mother to see this show as a birthday treat on the 25th June 2005 and it certainly didn't disappoint. The cast were fantastic and the show certainly lived up to our expectations, so much so that we may go back again this Christmas for my birthday!

I booked seats M6 and M5 in the stalls, solely based on your seating recommendation, and they offered a perfect view of the stage plus ample leg room for the average sized person. I'm 5ft 9". The acoustics were very good also. 

As this was a birthday treat for my mother I wasn't too concerned about the price and thought the £47.00 tickets a reasonable price to pay for such a great day out and such good seats at a top London show.

Many thanks to the Phantom cast, and Theatremonkey, for making a happy day extra special.
__________________

My partner and I went to see this show recently (July 2005), it was my umpteenth time and his first. I have to admit to not being a huge fan of the show, as, although there are many aspects of the production that I like, the show as a whole does not gel for me.

We purchased our tickets from the TKTS booth in Leicester Square and were seated in the circle on the second row and the seats were very good and we had a great view.

The show itself was very enjoyable but I did feel that it was starting to show its age a little and some of the characterisations are a little sloppy. We both had to agree though that Earl Carpenter, as the Phantom, was superb, he gave so much to his performance in the final scenes that we were both quite moved and I have never before been able to feel for this character. My partner really enjoyed the show and we both agreed that the staging is excellent.

All in all an enjoyable afternoon’s entertainment but not a show we will be rushing back to soon.

Messrs Colin and Asa Mccarthy-Burton
___________________

18 years, and its still playing to sold out audiences every night! Millions of people can't be wrong! This show is and always will remain the best musical in the world.

This show is simply amazing; the cast do a great job carrying the heavy story and musical score. The show is almost impossible to describe, as it is so good. Earl gives the best performance of The Phantom I have ever seen and heard. I may even go as far as to say that Earl's voice is more powerful and his performance is better than Mr Crawford!

The set and special effects are also amazing. The costumes, especially the lavish "Red Death". The thundering Overture sets the show off into a great whirlwind of excitement, and the show lives up to all of the hype associated with it.

Both the current London Christine's are also amazing; the passion with which they sing is brilliant. Oliver Thornton (Raoul) isn't the best in the cast but then again isn't the worst, his voice is pretty good and his acting is acceptable, but Earl outshines them all.

Please remember that the musical was the original and the movie came after, the movie was slightly different from the show (the show being better). But if your looking for a show to see in London go and see this, or end up kicking yourself as you leave some other poor show and see the audience leaving "Phantom" totally amazed. You have been warned!!!

!!!LONG MAY PHANTOM RUN!!! And perhaps come on a UK tour????

Enjoy!
__________________

I was visiting London from the US July 25 2005, and luckily procured fantastic tickets for Phantom of the Opera. The production was inspiring as always; I could never tire of seeing it. 

The cast was excellent, and the Phantom's performance was quite impressive and emotional. I was, however, very disappointed in the performance of the gent playing Raoul. While he had a great presence about him on stage, I didn't feel he fit the part, and as a trained tenor myself, I thought he should have been able to resonate his lower register better. In the trio with Phantom and Christine, Raoul's voice did not project, and his interjections were lost...
________________________

I was on holiday with my family all the way from Brisbane Australia and me and my sister went to see "Phantom of the Opera". Having loved the interpretation of the movie, I thought I should see the stage play, and I thought it was amazing! No doubt there is a large amount of prima donna style 'drama', but come on! The story is fiction about a masked musical genius living in the catacombs of the Paris Opera! The melodrama is what makes the story so interesting. Really Theatremonkey, stop being bland and enjoy the creativity! Andrew Lloyd Webber is a musical genius and Phantom of the Opera is not to be missed. The Phantom is such an amazing character, and is portrayed so well. The costumes are beautiful, the stage work is clever and creative, and the performances are bar none.

I will agree though on one thing. The poor Phantom should get Christine! He's cool enough, not stupid Roaul with his high pants and stupid hair! Talk about rejecting people because they dont appear normal! Tut tut Christine Daae!

Phantom Phans I would love to hear from you!

Nat Keys
keys2494@yahoo.com
___________________

Firstly, I would like to thank the Theatremonkey's frequent updates of special offers, which is where I searched for a fabulous offer to see "The Phantom of the Opera". I have long-awaited for a discounted ticket to this show. It was my first time to see it and thanks to theatremonkey, I got a full-priced ticket less £20! (Central Stalls an' all!)

Ok, enough of the money talk. I had expectations aplenty of the show, giving its 18-year run in the West End. They were definitely met. It was extraordinary. Very haunting and terribly tragic. The ambience of the whole show was carried away even after I left the theatre - a true sign of a successful theatre experience. I found myself humming to the melodies of Masquerade and Music of the Night as I was driving home!

Earl Carpenter as the Phantom was so fitting. Even though I have not seen Mr. Crawford's original display, I knew Earl's haunting voice was key to play the Phantom. Most memorable.

This classical theatre should be running for many years to come. For someone who normally favours the more modern musical like myself, "The Phantom of the Opera" certainly took me by surprise. A "Must-See". I truly understand this statement now. A "Must-See" indeed.

Karen.
___________________

We took our seven year old Twins to see Phantom for a birthday treat at the beginning of August 2005, though my Wife and I had seen it four times previously.

The kids loved it and want to see it again for their next birthday, but personally Phantom had lost some of it's magic. Earl Carpenter in the lead was very good indeed though not in the same league as Crawford who we had seen on two occasions.( We wish we had seen our fellow Welshman John Owen-Jones to compare). A special mention to Oliver Thornton as Raoul....absolutely terrible! How he got such a prestigious part is way beyond me!

We sat in the Royal Circle and found the seating cramped and the view inferior to a good Stalls seat.

We'll probably revisit next year if the kids demand!!

The Johnson Family
Port Talbot, South Wales
UK
___________________

My first West End show. When we bought the tickets I wasn't that excited. I wanted to experience a West End show as even at only 24, I saw it as one of those things you have to do sometime in your life.

The show starts with an elderly Raoul (in a wheelchair) buying a music box at an auction at the old opera house that had being previously haunted by the phantom. This is very important to remember for the rest of the show. After this scene the unmistakeable unique theme music begins, the sound in the theatre was amazing, better than any cinema.

At this point, I didn't know what was happening to me, the music caused the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up and I felt a shiver down my spine. A few seconds and I'd gone from wondering if we'll make the last orders at the pub, to being totally enthralled. I was hooked from that moment on, from the start to the finish. I have since listened to the music from the original cast (Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman), but in my opinion, Earl Carpenter (Phantom) and Rachel Barrell (Christine) are far more talented. As soon as Rachel began to sing her first solo of the evening I got that same feeling I did as the music began, although this time more intense. She has the kind of voice that you would never get tired of listening to. It was a pleasure to see her perform, other than being beautiful she acts astoundingly well and really feels the music. Overall the Phantom of the Opera is a must see, even for those who have never taken in a West End show before. It would be nice if a soundtrack was available of the current cast.

J Middleton of Sheffield
___________________

I thought I was the only theatregoer to have been disappointed by 'Phantom' at Her Majesty's but thankfully I have now realised that I am not alone. I thought I must have been tainted having seen the movie far too much, and that it was just me who was mildly disappointed by the acting efforts of Earl Carpenter and Oliver Thornton.

It must have been eight months or so since I saw it and, as far as I can tell, since then only the Raoul has changed which, frankly, can only be a blessing. Rachel Barrell made a marvellously emotional Christine and kept her as the feisty chorus girl of Leroux's original novel. She lifted the slightly flat acting of the Phantom wonderfully and kept Raoul's head above water. I adored Carlotta. She was fabulously camp and over the top, as any good diva should be.

'Phantom's tragically dark tale is a mix of romance, gothic horror and mystery and Lloyd Webber chooses to focus on the romantic side of the story. The struggle that Christine faces in choosing between the Phantom and Raoul represents her two very different sides; the dark, edgy Phantom, verses the safe Raoul. I know which one I'd choose... ;)

The lavish sets and spectrum of colours explode onto the stage, especially at the start of the second act, and capture your attention and your heart. The beautiful sounds of Lloyd Webber's music, combined with the wonderful lyrics of Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe, stay in your mind for weeks on end and, to be honest, it's not really such a bad thing!

I would definitely recommend 'Phantom' to anyone. It is Lloyd Webber's triumph and looks set to remain that way for a very long time.
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My 7 year old daughter and I recently went to see the show (February 9th 2006) and it was just brilliant. We sat in the Stalls in row D, seats 9 and 10. In my humble opinion, the current cast is the best, though I have only seen it once before.

She loved the whole thing, but was a little bit worried that the chandelier might fall on our heads! It was probably the best birthday I could give my little girl.

I was also impressed with the leg room, I'm 6 foot and it was ample.

Christian Toime
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I am utterly astounded at the few negative comments about POTO (Phantom Of The Opera). I first saw this magnificent production in December 2004 and in May 2006 will be seeing it again for the 4th time.

The first time I saw it was a xmas present and I wasn't too excited about it to be honest, I listened to the movie soundtrack that was also a xmas present and quite frankly thought that I was going to find the show quite hard going! I couldn't have been more wrong, from the very beginning I was hooked and when the chandelier swings into the audience with the spine chilling music the hairs stood up on the back of my neck.

>My favourites are: "Masquerade", "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" and "Think of Me", although I love all of it. The second time I saw POTO I realised I had missed so much the first time round, so knew I had to go again just in case I missed even more!

Earl Carpenter has to be the best Phantom, how he packs so much emotion into it every night for so long I really don't know, and Rachel Barrell is an excellent Christine- both deserve Oscars in my opinion.

I always sit in the stalls as I think you get the best views, but wouldn't sit on the front row again due to a stiff neck!! This show knocks spots off the movie and I am currently reading the novel, struggling a little with it as it is quite different.

The gentleman that previously wrote in the defence of Raoul lacking charisma is so correct in what he says, yes this is how Raoul is supposed to be......I think that those who slate POTO have no appreciation for this form of entertainment which is absolutely fine as we all have different tastes but hey just admit that its not for you, there's no need to rip it apart....take note Theatre
Monkey, Grrrrr....

P.S. I own; POTO compact mirror, a POTO monkey music box that plays "Masquerade", a POTO mug and a framed POTO poster with all my tickets in.....does that make me a sad Monkey?????....My Lawyers are watching!

cherylbrazier@hotmail.com
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I disagree with the negative reviews on "The Phantom of the Opera", Earl Carpenter was excellent as the Phantom, even better than Michael Crawford; and Katie Knight-Adams was excellent as Christine.

I loved the chandelier, although it was literally centimetres above our heads, some lady in the audience screamed and many of the audience gasped as it was unexpected.

Also, I was in front row (Seat B10) - it is a restricted view because of the conductor - but he was not in my way at all, and B11 was affected slightly although it really wasn't a problem unless your under 4ft perhaps.

The only moan I have is that sound wasn't loud, so you missed parts of the singing, and the final lair boat scene, I missed parts of that. Apart from that it was excellent, and am glad I got an excellent view sold at a restricted price even though it wasn't affected in the slightest. Highly recommended.

Ashleah Skinner,
London
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I went to see this a few weeks ago with a very open mind as I normally prefer something light and breezy and didn't think I was going to enjoy it-but I did!! - and would recommend anyone to see it

Ms Christina Brooks
N6
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Went to see "Phantom of the Opera" on Tuesday 27th June 2006, it was BRILLIANT! Far better than the film version. It had me in tears and goosebumps in parts. The main character's "Phantom" and "Christine" were excellent and put so much into their performances.

We sat in stalls row "J" seats 3 and 4 and had a really good view of the stage. The overhang starts at row "J" so we were able to see the chandelier but any further back and some bits of the show would have been missed. The seats are a bit old and so aren't as comfortable as some other theatres that have been updated, but we had enough leg room. The theatre was lovely, like stepping back into Victorian times and the whole atmosphere was perfect for "Phantom".

Cant wait to go and see it again!

Sherrie
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Saw the show for the first time on Monday 10th July 2006, absolutely loved it! Can't wait to go back and see it again.

My cousin and I were in London for a special few days break and chose this show to see out of all those currently on as we loved the music (I have a copy of the original cast recording LP!). We checked on this site for seat info and had seats K23 and 24 in the stalls and found them very good, saw everything, my cousin is slightly taller than me so she could see the chandelier right to the top. Got the full effect of the chandelier falling too without being directly underneath it!

We loved everything about it, the effects, the story, the acting and singing and I agree with other people, although we have no comparison with others, Earl Carpenter is fabulous as the phantom. Despite what theatremonkey says, to see the theatre sold out on a Monday night in July proves how good the show is.

My only gripe is actually about the theatre itself, something needs to be done about the seating, the seats are quite small. If you are a 'larger size lady' like me you get wedged into the seat and literally cannot move until the interval (an American lady in front of me had exactly the same problem) and then feel so stiff afterwards. Even for someone slim you also have to get out of the row to let people get past to their seats in the middle. My cousin is only 5'5" and she said there was not much leg room either. But that is only a little moan, we were so caught up in the show it didn't detract from it, we just had a good stretch in the interval and settled down again for the second half.

Final comment, absolutely brilliant show, would thoroughly recommend it, want to go again, and again, and again..........

Katie B
Birmingham UK
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I saw ‘Phantom of the Opera’ for the first on 13th July 2006. I wanted to see the stage show after I saw the 2004 film, (the best thing to do is to see the stage show then the film). As tickets for Phantom are expensive, I went on Lastminute.com to get tickets which offered me a £10 discount on each ticket. The problem with this is your not allocated seats until you get to the theatre. I had great seats in the upper circle (H17-18). The only tiny problem with view the seats is that you can’t see the head when the Phantom enters (2 second obstruction), at the start of Act 2 and the chandelier blocks the phantom for a few seconds when he is at the top of the stage at the end of Act 1. Legroom is poor but manageable (I’m 6”1 and it was a small problem, but easy to forget about when watching the production).

The only understudy was Christine Daae which was played by Tabitha Webb. I think this understudy made no difference in my enjoyment of the production.

I had two problems with the production though. My first problem was Raoul. Great performance by the actor (David Shannon), but I thought he looked much older than Christine (maybe it’s because of the understudy) so found it hard to believe that they were “friends” when they were children. The major problem is the sound. After nearly 8,200 performances in the same theatre, you would think the sound would be good. When the actors sang on stage is sometimes was hard to hear, and when the actors sang off stage or a recording was playing it was much louder, so they either make the sound louder when the onstage or quieter when they are off. To add more atmosphere, they should make all of the sound louder.

The illusions in the show are great and they get better as the show goes on.

Phantom of The Opera is like Marmite, you either love it or you hate it. I LOVED IT!!!

James F
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Went to see Phantom on Saturday 23rd September 2006. I did not think I would enjoy this, just booked it for my girlfriend's birthday as I know she likes musicals, however, I will be honest and say I thoroughly enjoyed the whole performance. I thought the voices of Christine and the Phantom were absolutely superb.

As I mentioned this is not my kind of thing, but this is a MUST see for anyone, even if they think it is not 'up their street'.

Loved it.
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We saw the show for the first time on Saturday 7th October 2006.

After consulting Theatremonkey (thanks again, your website is always a great help), we booked four seats in Upper Circle seats E15 to 18.

The view of the stage was excellent, as was the view of the top of the theatre, we had a great sight of The Phantom during his performance in 'The Gods'.

The leg room was more than adequate, I am 6ft2 and had no trouble at all.

The only gripe is I had to move from side to side to see the centre of the stage, due to a tall gentleman sitting directly in front of me, but this must have applied to those sitting behind me due to my height.

The stage sets were fantastic, as was the whole production.

My only word of caution would be take a light jacket, the air conditioning is too good!!.
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I could not recommend this musical less. It is dragging the West End back.

I sat in the Upper Circle. Terrible sightlines and no legroom. I was so far away from the stage that I felt like I couldn't be further away from the action. Not that there was much action coming from the unengaging acting and plot.

It was made in the 80's....and it shows.

This was utterly disappointing. The score was unimaginative and bland, the sets looked dated and the 'special effects' were clunky and distracting.

Do not believe the hype, this show may be in its 21st year, but that is surely musical retirement age.
Go and see 'Mary Poppins' or 'Wicked' who are still in their gloriously fresh infancy.

Andy B
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I have just seen "The Phantom of the Opera" at Her Majesty's theatre in London (November 2006), sitting in row B seats 13 and 14 and would recommend this show to anyone. The seats were amazing and I was so close to the action, I did not have a problem with legroom or cricked necks. I could see every feature of the phantom's deformity, saw all the fine detail, and felt that the singers were singing just for me, they tended to stand just in front of these seats to sing the big pieces. The flares were startling and I could feel the heat from them, the chandelier was scary, I would recommend these seats anytime.

As for the show itself, it is hard to describe how wonderful it is, the music, the storyline etc. I am already planning another visit to the show, I know it won't happen, but hope the phantom gets the girl next time!

Anne
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Saw Phantom 1st December 2006. After seeing John Owen Jones twice, and Scott Davies once, I thought Earl Carpenter did a pretty good job - though vocally John Owen Jones was better. I've seen him with Celia Graham and they were superb together. The big disappointment was Katie Knight Adams, I have never seen someone sing and act so badly on stage (and I have seen many shows). I can't believe she is hired for this job. She doesn't look like a young girl at all but more like a witch, especially when she sings. She completely screwed up the last part of 'Think of me' which was already shorter than usual I think due to her vocal limitations. She even lip-synced the duet 'Phantom of the Opera' because suddenly her voice was completely different. Also with the notes at the end she was too late opening and closing her lips. At that time you heard her voice only over the speakers and not coming from the stage as before (I was very close). I felt sorry for Earl that he had to work with such a bad performer who was overacting all the time.

A big compliment however for Wendy Ferguson as Carlotta, she was very very good. However, make sure you see Celia Graham as Christine when you book this show.
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Saw this show on the 28th December 2006, with Celia Graham as Christine, Earl Carpenter as the Phantom and Michael Xavier as Raoul.

This show, along with 'Les Misérables', is one of the "crown jewels" of West End theatre. The spectacular staging always dazzles, and the score throbs emotion throughout. The opera managers, monsieurs Andre and Firmin provide light comic relief throughout, as well as being key to the storyline.

For those who expect a traditional musical, do not go here. Phantom is a heavy gothic rock show dressed up as an Opera, and if you do not like Pipe Organs and electric guitar this show is not for you. Some scenes-mainly the hanging of sceneshifter Joseph Buquet - are not suitable for young children.

Earl Carpenter's singing and acting is superb throughout, as he brings true emotion to the role. Some may find his higher-pitched singing rather light, as he is closer to Michael Crawford than his predecessor John Owen-Jones. Michael Xavier is a great improvement on David Shannon in the role of Raoul, Vicomte de Changy and Christine Daae's lover. However, make sure you see Celia Graham in the role of Christine rather than the dreadful Katie Knight-Adams. Graham's singing is beautiful throughout the show and she never misses a note, while reviews of KKA have been far less favourable.

Overall a superb show-see it at least once and DO NOT believe the review the monkey has given it.

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To all concerned with the production and performance of this show.

I have collected, vinyl - CD - DVD and finally, as a 60th Birthday treat with my family, I sat in awe and watched the show.

Form beginning to the final curtain this production was excellent. Please pass this on to all of the cast (company) and production team.

Thank you all very much for a fantastic night out.

Dave Lorenz.
Hull, UK
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This is the fourth time I have seen Theatremonkey's favourite show! I got a half price ticket from the 'Get Into London Theatre's offer website (ended 17th March 2007) for the performance on 28th February 2007.

I was seated in stalls row C seat 11, right in the centre. I thought it strange that the three seats (10,11 and 12) in front of me were unoccupied. Maybe people didn't turn up, or maybe these are saved for sale on the night? The rest of the stalls were full. I was right behind the conductor, but as is written elsewhere on this site, he isn't very tall and from where I was seated wasn't much of a problem. On the stage right in front of me was a wooden block which may have contained lighting. This obscured some of the action, but in the second half it wasn't there.

I was so close I could easily see the microphones of the performers. I could also see how Christine and The Phantom enter the mirror, which spoiled the effect for me. Being so close has some advantages. The Phantom's deformity can be clearly seen, and you see the performers' expressions. Christine's interaction with the Phantom when she gives him a ring and kisses him being especially moving.

The lady next to me had an exciting moment (she went oohhhh) when a male dancer was leaping around and his thong showed beneath his costume! She was also excited by the falling chandelier and ducked as it passed over, but I would prefer to be further away. I found myself having to look from side to side on occasions and had to look almost straight up to see the Phantom in the chandelier.

On my first viewing (from the Upper Circle) I remember being amazed when the rows of candles appeared for the Music of The Night scene, but from row C this effect is muted, also the cloud which is so effective from further away obscures the action I reckon rows G and H would be much better, or probably the main green area of the Dress Circle.

I didn't find the seat very comfortable. The leg room was very good, but the back of the seat wasn't very forgiving, it seemed a bit too straight. Not sure if I will go again, certainly won't if I have to pay full price. After seeing it four times it has lost some of the excitement and emotion I felt on the first three occasions. This was the first show I ever saw in the West End and that is always an exciting time for anyone. The man next to me was entranced and said it was wonderful, exactly my reaction when I saw it first in 2000.

<later visit:
I got another half price ticket, this time for the stalls, row N seat 14 for the matinee performance on March 13th 2007. A line from one of the songs goes "Half the cast aren't here, but still the audience cheer" The same could be said of this performance r.e. the use of understudies. Strangely there was no announcement stating the changes in the cast, maybe because there were so many. Ramin Karimloo played the Phantom. Rachel Barrell played Christine and Andrew Thwaite was Raoul, and there was a stand in conductor as well. When I arrived home to look at the cast list I thought Rachel Barrell was an understudy for the understudy. In reality she is, but a little research told me she played Christine from September 2004 to October 2006 and received very good reviews, so hardly an understudy!

I enjoyed this performance much more than two weeks ago (above) when I was seated almost right at the front in row C seat 11. The sound was much better from row N. I picked up almost every word, the view was much better, especially the effects and scenery. Also being further back meant I didn't have to look from side to side when the action was spread out, and I didn't have to look almost straight upwards trying to glimpse the Phantom in the chandelier. I felt the seat was more comfortable as well, maybe as a result of me not having to crane my neck from side to side and upwards. In my review of two weeks ago I wrote about a wooden block at the front of the stage which appeared to contain lighting, from further away I can confirm it does contain lighting, and it does appear in the second act. It swivels when not in use and is flat on the stage. I'm sure you all wanted to know about that. As the climax approached I felt my eyes moisten and I was totally engrossed in the fine performances. The Phantom magic has returned for me !
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Went to see Phantom last night, 2nd May 2007, after finding an excellent meal and a show deal on this site, ate well at the Mintleaf restaurant before the show. Good meal, and good seats (A23 and A24, front row of Dress Circle.)

Really enjoyed the show, Earl Carpenter as Phantom and Rachel Barrell as a superb Christine. Not much legroom in the front row of the Circle (I know, I know, you warned us) but thoroughly enjoyed it, now seen it three times. When I went to pick up the tickets, there was a rehearsal going on which you could hear from the foyer. The box office clerk said they were ‘running in a new cast’ and this made it even more enjoyable, queuing whilst listening to some good choral singing.
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I would just like to add my review of a most wonderful and exhilarating performance of 'Phantom' (9th June 2007). We were in row P which was just under the Dress Circle but in the middle, the only bit we missed was the chandelier going higher up than we could see; but we saw the Phantom on the top of the building.

I have always loved the music and have watched the recent DVD release a few times but NOTHING compares to the live stage version. The music and pure voices bring a lump to your throat and the way that the sets change around to create the different scenes is amazing. The walkway down to the Phantom's lair was a really slick and effective trick, and had you believing they were really walking downwards.

I cannot honestly fault anything at all and we are going again for certain - it's the best show we have ever seen. If anybody sees just one show this year make it "Phantom of The Opera!!" Beats the DVD any day!! I have played the soundtrack every day since coming back, ha ha.

Our visit 9th June 2007 2.30pm performance.
Tracy (35), Simon (35) and son Chris (18)
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Went to see Phantom again last week (June 2007) – it must be 15 years since I last saw it. However, really enjoyed it – still produces the old goose bumps – it has to be said the music is great.

We sat in the Royal Circle rows A and B (couldn’t get 6 tickets together) and although one or two parts of the performance are out of view when they go to the far side of the stage generally good seats.

The girl lead was very good, as was The Phantom although the same cannot be said for Raoul – he had a very weak voice and was totally overpowered by Christina (not sure of the name of girl who played her - but the dark haired one). I am told by someone who saw the blond one, that they did not like her voice at all, so lucky me that I got the other one!

Paid £25 for top price tickets from See Tickets so a good deal.

Lizzie still loves the Theatre!
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We were disappointed in this production (August 2007), and aghast that Carlotta had a much nicer voice than Christine! They should have switched roles.

We were in Row B, which is the first row, I am only 5' 2" and my knees were crushed against a low black wall between me and the orchestra, sit further back for a much better view.
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I was disappointed when I found out the main actor would not be playing the phantom. Nic Greenshields was in the role, however! He was brilliant and earned the standing ovation he received at the end. He was physically imposing, powerful, menacing and sensitive. His voice was beautiful in my opinion he was the best phantom I have seen.

I was sitting front row centre (B13 and 14) and found these seats to be very good, experiencing no problems at all.

Still sorry he failed to get the girl!

16th November 2007
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There are few productions still running in London with just as much panache and zest as they had when they started, and I truly think that Phantom is one of them. Not being a fan of Lloyd Webber works, I must confess a soft spot for Phantom. The storyline is cringing to say the least, but romantic in the smallest sense, and the image that is associated with Phantom is one of love. Albeit unrequited. Notable strong points of the production include consistently strong leads, an engaging plot and characters that the audience can empathise with. On the downside, the set and staging is clever, but not used efficiently. It is too messy at times, and the noise created by the set and crew moving it into position is hideous!!

Her Majesty’s theatre is beautifully acoustic, and most of the stalls and dress circle benefit from almost no amplified sound, which is a rarity. Phantom is also a quiet musical, and does not rely on deafening the audience to be effective, apart from the natural crescendos within the score, and obviously the Phantoms theme tune… The lighting is absurdly clever, as are most of the special effects.

This is a show well worth seeing, for boyfriends, girlfriends, no friends or even just for an ordinary theatre night out. Still a top show in the West End, and has the audience numbers to prove it!! Undoubtedly Lloyd Webbers biggest achievement, but not his greatest work. And would someone please get rid of the dummies used to make the stage look busier than it actually is!!

Sat in seats K9 and 10 (Stalls), which provided a very good view, as did all seats in that row, but I think the seats should be down priced from Row N back, as they really are not worth full price. Seats are slightly uncomfortable, but legroom was good. Belonging to the 6 footer club, I have not yet had trouble fitting into seats at Her Majesty’s.
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l think this is a great performance, I would have to disagree with the monkey saying it was ''lame.'' I always though opera was amazing but this performance truly wins. I was seated in row L seat 5 - totally great seats - at Her Majesty's Theatre. The drinks at the middle break were extremely expensive, but this is LONDON. Ladies and Gentlemen adjust your binoculars and prepare for an outstanding opera night...

Cristopher H.

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I saw 'Phantom of the Opera' on the 23rd July 2008 at the evening performance. The only reason I went was to see Alex Rathgeber, because I had read a review about him titled 'London's Best Aussie'. I had no interest in opera, only knew one song and only knew the story in brief (and the Phantom was the only character I remembered) before I went to see it. And after the first 10 minutes, I wondered if Theatremonkey had seen the right show. I totally disagree with Theatremonkey. I absolutely loved it. The whole thing blew me away. I do admit that the first 2 scenes I hadn't a clue what was going on, but after the Phantom makes his first appearance it makes sense.

I sat in the GRAND CIRCLE in Row H seats 26 and 27. Legroom was just tolerable, but otherwise comfortable. The view of the stage is mainly good, however the corner of the stage (Down-Stage Right in the correct theatre terms) cannot be seen from these seats, and anywhere in this part of the circle, so everyone leans forward and that just makes it harder for you to see. In fact, I would say about a maximum of 10 minutes through the whole show is spent watching people lean. However, with the quality of the show the price is still value for money. Some of the key moments happen on Down-Stage Right, but fortunately the singing and lines are so clear you can visualise it for yourself.

I enjoyed it very much, my whole opinion of opera has changed. Although 'pure opera' to me is when it is just singing, no acting. You won't see me at those kind of things. Anyway, yes I loved it. 'Christine' played by Leila Benn Harris was amazing and loved her to bits. She had the voice of a goddess. And no matter how creepy Ramin Karimloo's 'Phantom' can be, his singing is beautiful and will blow you away. And as for Alex Rathgeber, the review I read is not nearly complimentary enough. He was by far an amazing singer and actor. Truly stole the show at times. In fact we were so impressed we went to the Stage Door (and missed our train, but it was worth it). Leila did not come out in time for us to see her, but Alex and Ramin did. Alex was very charming, the nicest actor I've ever met. And as my friend said to him 'he has nice hair'. And Ramin looks so different in person (because the make-up is very professional), but bless him he's actually so cute and you can tell he is so overwhelmed with all the fans. Unfortunately, my camera had no battery and was charging at home so I'm definitely going back to get photos, which they very kindly pose for.

A must see West End Production. Don't miss it, or the Phantom' will appear inside your mind and haunt you till you get a ticket.
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After waiting over 20 years to see 'Phantom' I finally made it over to the West End last week (10th September 2008). I was a little worried when I read about the huge cast overhaul that had been made a couple of days prior but I needn't have worried - I found the show magical, I sat mesmerised throughout the whole performance and had constant shivers running up and down my spine that started the moment they raised the chandelier at the auction house to the very end, it was wonderful!

Ramin Karimloo made a wonderful 'Phantom', Gina Beck an amazing 'Christine' (what a voice!), after reading a few reviews about 'Raoul' being a bit drippy in a few performances I was expecting to hate whoever played him but was more than pleasantly surprised when Simon Bailey appeared. Kate Radmilovic and Rohan Tickell as 'Carlotta' (she really was fantastic) and 'Piangi' were fabulous. In fact the whole cast were just brilliant, I could watch this show over and over again if given the chance.

Seats were great, we had G15 (aisle) and G16 in the Stalls. Legroom was adequate for two 5' 10" people, one with a larger than average bottom (!) and long legs although some shifting was required occasionally. Terrific view of the stage and actors, it was great to be close enough to see the expressions on their faces. I would most definitely book these seats again.

Having read a previous reviewer mention the rather cool air-conditioning I came equipped with a warm cardigan - I should have left it at home, I was so warm and didn't feel any kind of cool air in the theatre at all - I left the theatre rather red-faced with the heat.

One thing I will point out, we treated ourselves to the 'RoyalBox Sharing Canapés' - what a waste of money! They were very nice, but for £24 we were expecting more than 12 tiny little bite sized treats, they were gone in seconds! We also booked drinks for the interval and reserved a table, or so we thought, but when we got there our drinks and canapés had just been put on a table and two other people had nicked the seats around it, so we had to stand to eat and drink.

A wonderfully memorable evening and well worth the 20 year wait to see the show - may it continue another 20 years!

JackieMc
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Went to see 'The Phantom of the Opera' for a second time on 29th October 2008 in the evening. I'll keep this short as I have done a review before. The story is amazing as ever and the new cast (different from the last time) was just as good if not better. Gina Beck is a brilliant actress as is Simon Bailey and of course the much loved Ramin.

Sat in STALLS Row N seats 17 and 18. Being only £10 more than where we sat in the Grand Circle Row J before, these seats are much much better. They are more central and much closer to the action. The sound is perfect, the view is perfect and this time there was lots of legroom. You don't miss a thing at these seats, and they made the show much more enjoyable.

Went to the stage door. All the cast is friendly and gives out autographs and takes photos. Very nice people!

Get your tickets soon (although I think as it's been on so long, it won't be ending anytime soon and I can see why).
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I recently saw Phantom at Her Majesty's Theatre as an early 2008 Christmas present for a friend. We were allocated seats in the Grand Circle; K22 and 23. All I can say is if I ever did it again (and I won't) I would avoid these seats.

Our seats were on the back row at the aisle, and I have sat in similar seating at many other shows without problem. The show started on time and approximately 5 minutes later, approximately 25 latecomers arrived separately in small groups and were seated in with ushers along the Grand Circle.

The latecomers were held back our side, and then began lots of standing by Ushers in the middle of the aisle waiting to place the theatregoers. Some problem was occurring and the management were called and then more waiting followed and hovering in the eyeline edge continued. None of it was discreet.

This went on with door banging by ushers for about 30 minutes whilst we sat waiting in edgy anticipation that everyone would get seated successfully - Phew is was a relief when they were.

Unfortunately by this time we felt completely disconnected from the scene on stage and this was seemingly the case also for the latecomers who commenced to chat quite openly. Although the disruption was palpable the show itself lacked heart and we hadn't developed any compassion for the characters ...but it all looked very nice.

When we left and teemed out onto the street we saw an advertisement for the forthcoming De Niro movie, 'What just happened?' we laughed out loud because that summed up perfectly our experience at Her Majestys Theatre.

Never again !
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I went to see this on Monday 5th January 2009, my first visit. We had seats D22 and D23 in the stalls, tickets bought via the annual 'Get into London Theatre' offer.

Legroom was ample and the view was fantastic, I think we saw everything there was to see, so didn't feel restricted in anyway. The theatre was quite warm for a chilly night, only felt cold when side door near the seats was open.

Ramin Karimloo was fantastic as 'Phantom', but personally I felt he was outdone by 'Christine' played by Katy Hall, her singing was amazing.

I am now hooked and want to go and see it again.

M
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My girlfriend and I went to see 'Phantom of the Opera' last night (6th January 2009). I had seen it once before, years ago, and she had never seen it. We sat, on the recommendation of this website and one or two others, in seats 18 and 19 of row C of the Royal Circle - the very best seats in the entire theatre. They were dead centre, we had not a single obstruction and could see every aspect of the production perfectly. Legroom was ample, and so long as nobody in front of you leans forward, you needn't move for the entire duration of the show. The tickets were £40 each, reduced from £55 each as part of a Christmas offer; I would have happily paid full price given the quality of the seats and of the show.

We agree with your view that the show is 'lame', although I personally enjoyed it having embraced that fact. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and the music was played beautifully. It's not the greatest score in the world (that title belongs to 'Les Misérables'), but it is successful in so much as it does all that it is designed to do. There is a real depth of emotion conveyed by the music and the stage performances of the actors was excellent.

Sadly, I felt that Ramin Karimloo's performance as the Phantom was weak vocally - it certainly did not live up to the hype I had heard. His stage presence was good and he certainly had a haunting quality, but I felt that his singing was a bit too 'pop star'-esque for the role. Katy Hall as Christine was magnificent, her voice was excellent and she acted well in addition to singing well. The rest of the cast were very good, and it was a great evening.
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I have seen 'Phantom of the Opera' many many times. I have seen various actors and I have to say that the current cast, led by Ramin Karimloo is one of the strongest.

Ramin is different every time. He seems to live the role and somehow seems to keep him fresh every time I've seen it. As for his voice, I don't see how some can say it's weak. Yes he's contemporary and rocky but it is what it is. But he has some much power and dynamics. It's nice to hear the different levels he's brought to the role. He doesn't just over sing every thing. Yet he does bring an element of Opera to the role too. But always, he's full of passion. For an untrained singer his natural vocal technique is outstanding.

He has brought a fresh take on the role and a vitality which is refreshing after some of the Phantoms I've seen who seem to have just walked through the role. Even when I've heard Ramin when he's sick he still manages to produce a heart felt Phantom. He has two great Christine's in Gina Beck and Robyn North. I think the connection between Ramin and Robyn is very electric and sexy. Gina is a sweet Christine too. Simon Bailey is a fiery Raoul and the tension between him and Ramin in the final lair is amazing. The managers are the best I've seen in my humble opinion.

The show is fresh again and it's definitely worth the ticket price. The seats in the theatre are all fairly good. Obviously the restricted ones have their downfalls but at least you know that in advance.

So go see the show. Ramin is worth the ticket price alone.
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We saw 'Phantom of the Opera' on 7th January 2009. We sat in the stalls row G seats 15 to 18 (GREEN on the Monkey's plan). I am 5' 11" tall and my knees where jammed against the seat in front. The young man sitting behind me (who was taller than me) spent the whole performance with his knees banging against the back of my seat! I could not say anything as we were all so cramped together - it looks like they have added an extra row of seats and pushed the other seats really close together. Great view of the stage and all the action but no enough leg room!
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I went to see 'The Phantom of the Opera' on the 10th April 2009 with a friend and we were sat in the stalls row F19 and 20. These seats are very good. You are close to the stage without being too close, you can see the actors faces clearly; and the famous chandelier is just to the right of you a little bit when it goes up and down so it's not very scary being under it. The only thing I could think of that annoyed me about sitting in these seats is that Gina Beck (who plays Christine) had her back to us in some of the scenes, so we couldn't see her reactions to the other characters.

The show is still one of the best I've ever seen and it's amazing how long its been running. All the principles were on, which was great for me. Gina Beck was Christine and she was phenomenal. her voice went so high and I really liked her portrayal of the role, she didn't act too much like a scared young girl.

Simon Bailey was Raoul, and he was really good considering the part he plays makes him look like a wuss. He has a strong voice and I think he will make a good Phantom in the future. Ramin Karimloo was the Phantom and vocally I thought he was quite weak. I have seen this show twice before with John Owen Jones and I think JOJ had the better voice. However Ramin was very moving in 'Music of the Night' and his acting was the best I've ever seen. He portrays the Phantom as autistic, and he had all these mannerisms that I picked up on straight away. He made me cry at the end, he was just so incredible - especially when imitating the music box and when Christine gave the ring back. I will be going back soon to see this wonderful show!

Kirsty
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I went to see the show in March 2009 and we sat in row C of the stalls, seats C11, C12, and C13. The view was excellent as it was really close to the actors. Unfortunately, the conductor was in the way for some of the time and when the dry ice with the boat scene happened, we could not see anything as the dry ice completely cut off our view - and it became very cold for a while. Otherwise they were excellent seats.
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24th April 2009:

Seats: Royal Circle row C 24 and 25. Brilliant view, although little leg room - but that is because the theatre is old, so has to be expected.

Ramin Karimloo was spectacular as the Phantom. I did not expect to sob as much as I did, having seen the musical many times and knowing the storyline, but this man is exceptional. He brought back a vulnerability to the role that hasn't been seen in a Phantom since Michael Crawford in my opinion. Go see this man in this role before he leaves. The whole cast were fantastic but this man is one to watch.

Emma
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Saw "Phantom" last night for the first time (6th May 2009). I am only 13 and have seen over 20 musicals in the West End. 'Phantom' was special. I went with my friend, who is also 13, and I loved it; sadly, she didn't. She had fallen asleep after the first act.

I loved it. the special effects were among the best I have ever seen in a theatre, the music and the acting - I loved every minute of it. It started as soon as I entered the theatre; it was a lovely, grand and majestic theatre - it made you feel like you were in the Paris Opera House.

Sat in Dress Circle row A22 and 23 and they were excellent seats. I never have a problem with legroom in the dress circle; I find the D/C my preferred place to sit in the theatre to the stalls. However, I did find this seat a little bit tight myself, however not tight enough to decrease my enjoyment of the show. Loved every minute of it. 11/10.
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I went to see The Phantom of The Opera on the 1st December 2009 with a group of friends. We had stall seats from D7 through to D16 as there was 10 of us. I was responsible for buying the tickets hence I had checked reviews of the seats using TheatreMonkey, which I found was very useful. D7 through to D16 were fantastic seats, probably the best seats in the house. We were 3 rows from the front, and was very close to the stage. The music was fantastic, and the singing was mind blowing. We were right underneath the chandelier. I would recommend row D and above. It was worth the money. I can't wait to see Love Never Dies!"

Catherine.
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TheGreatHumbug:

Myself and three of my friends booked tickets to see Phantom for the 5th of January 2010, and should have taken the adverse weather as the first sign that we should have stayed at home.

Firstly, I should say that our seats were perfect. We were front row of the Dress circle and the view could simply not have been better. On taking our seats we could not help but notice how impressive the set looked even pre-show. Unfortunately, the problems only started after the show had begun.

After showing initial promise with some very impressive effects, it soon became apparent that the cast was not able to keep up with the set. They were outdone by every other department working on the show. It is, in a word, spectacular, by which I mean that it is all spectacle. Wardrobe, lighting, the set and the orchestra were all very appealing but the cast and direction completely floundered.

The staging was clumsy with actors spending much of the show wandering the stage looking as if they couldn't find a mark and even when they did their delivery was sub-standard. I know this is musical theatre and that perhaps it requires more suspension of disbelief than other theatre, but in this case the only thing that could have suspended my disbelief was if you sentenced it to life. Phantom and Christine were unconvincing and overworked, while Raoul fell into the usual trap of being a charisma vacuum. The supporting cast frankly just seemed happy to be there.

Phantom's 23 years have led to it becoming stagnant. It needs a reason to be kept going; new energy and fervour. As it is, it plays like the West End's granddad on life support, while there are young, vibrant shows out there in Theatreland. Come on Phantom, people need a reason not to pull the plug.
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Thought I'd drop you a line with regard to my most recent trip to London to finally catch "Phantom," a show that I've wanted to witness for a long time but not enough to fork out for the always-top price and hard-to-get-without-booking-early seats! Anyway, only last week we plumped for two £40 tickets via See Tickets and rolled up to Her Majesty's on Friday night (29th January 2010).

Overall, myself and my fiancée both really enjoyed the show. I left the theatre feeling like I'd just witnessed a show that was easy to see quite why it's been so successful, and I surprisingly had a new appreciation for much of the music - that, until Friday, wasn't particularly appealing to me. The atmosphere created was a particular plus-point for me, and by the end of show I was hooked. That said, it did take some time for me to get to "know" the central characters - so to speak - but we were in the Upper Circle and I think you always get wrapped-up in things a lot quicker when sat down in the Stalls.

I'm a big fan of the classic Universal Horror Movies so found myself quickly enjoying the general mood of the piece and the creepiness of the Phantom inhabiting all parts of the theatre. Even though I think you can tell that the show is now 20+ years old from a number of the effects, it still worked; but after hearing so many chandelier stories I must admit to feeling a little disappointed when the thing "crashed" down - Hmmmmm. I was far more impressed when it came to life and was lifted up at the end of the Auction Scene. I "didn't get" that the old guy bidding for the music box was actually Raoul and I think if ever I watched this again it would have more impact as I did enjoy the unusual opening to the show. It was impossible to not be impressed by many of the sets; I loved the opening of Act 2 on the grand staircase and what's not to like about a moving gondola, dry ice and let's-pretend candles!

Not being a big fan of the majority of music used throughout (in particular when they were supposed to be actually performing in an opera) much of it did nothing for me, and I found myself hoping many numbers would hurry along. That said though, the songs that we all know (and love?) were used to very dramatic effect and quite simply... worked. Much of the "romance" is over-the-top and dramatic, but as I don't often watch shows of this nature it didn't really give me cause to be critical as I expected this when I entered the theatre. It's certainly not a musical that I'd rush out and buy the OCR straight after but more perhaps pluck a handful of the best ones from i-tunes (or alternatively just nab my mother's 'Andrew Lloyd Webber Collections'!).

Whilst I thought the cast was good, no-one really blew me away. I've come away from some musicals raving about the likes of Kerry Ellis and Laura Michelle Kelly, but I'm none the wiser about the three leads in Phantom, and to be honest have no interest in looking up their bio's. That said, they were perfectly adequate; and, of them all, I thought the role of Madame Giry was played brilliantly.

We paid £40 + booking fee for Seats B27 and 28 in the Grand Circle, and whilst I'd never usually choose seats this high-up, I'd read on good authority (i.e. here) that the Grand Circle isn't particularly high. Coupled with a very limited choice of seats, I went for these. We were generally happy with the seats - but they should be clearly identified as "Restricted," as my aisle seat (and much more so the seat next to me), often had a blocked view of the performance, especially when the action was Stage Right. It's typical that much of the show seemed to take place here - with very little on the alternative side of the stage - so, with that in mind I highly recommend sitting to the right hand side of the theatre if choosing. As per usual, Row B suffers from your view being spoilt if people in front lean over; I found myself envying the people sat in the central section in Row A as they paid the same price as me but are great seats. They've got it right in so much as the seats get less expensive as you move toward the wall, but the seats on the aisle and adjacent to that should also be reduced. Plenty of leg room for the aisle seats, as lots of room in front, but was also adequate when moving in.

Overall we had a memorable night seeing a show that's rightly heralded as a classic - it hasn't jumped to the top of the list of my favourites, but in fairness a show with as much music in this particular style is never going to rank quite as highly as some others. I'll definitely be looking to check out "Love Never Dies."
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I went to see Phantom last night (18th June 2010) and thought I would submit a review of our seats. We were in E 10, 11 and 12 in the stalls and they were very good.  Probably the best view I have ever had at the theatre. Almost central, four rows from the front, right under the chandelier and with plenty of legroom for my 6ft 2ins frame. We paid top price for them but well worth the money.

Adam
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I've just returned home from the matinee of "Phantom" (2nd October 2010), a show that I've seen about 30 times, but not been for 4 years until now. I'm not overly keen on it, but my girlfriend wished to see it, so off we went.

I have to say I was more impressed than I was expecting. Scott Davies was back as the Phantom, a role he played a few years ago, and was mightily impressive. He was a constantly twitching, nervous character, rather like an alcoholic who is desperate for a drink but cannot get one. I think Mr Davies must be one of the most experienced Phantoms by now, and his performance really shows that.

Sofia Escobar is a superb Christine, young and naive, and in fine voice. The management pairing of Barry James (greatest Thenardier in my opinion) and Gareth Snook are the best I've seen, they work well together. Carlotta and Piangi I cannot comment on - I find the characters terribly irritating. Will Barret as Raoul, well, sorry but he's awful. Maybe he is quite new to the role, I'm not sure, but he is instantly forgettable; and there was far greater chemistry between Christine and the Phantom - she should have stayed with the Phantom and told Raoul to clear off!

That's it really, one last thing - Scott Davies received a standing ovation when he came on to take his bow - this was the only standing ovation I've ever witnessed for this show, I think it was mainly for his own performance as opposed to the show as a whole.
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Saw Phantom this week (December 2010) for the first time and was blown away! John Owen-Jones was playing the Phantom and I was so impressed by his range, acting and general musicality. His voice is superb and he really made the show. Christine was also very good and played the character well. Her voice was brilliant and she had a hard task hitting all those high notes but she did it every time. I have to say that Raoul was no match for the Phantom but he did his best and, along with the rest of the cast, produced a great show.

The set and props were used well and it is always interesting to see how a show can use the space. In this instance they use height and there were some exciting moments!

Some people have thought that the show dragged but I think that is par for the course with musicals when they are a couple of hours long, and actually I was eager for the second half to start as I was really enjoying the performance.

I went with my mother and sister, neither of whom were particularly keen to see it, but we had time to kill so went for the matinee and were really glad we did! We came out of the show on cloud 9, so emotional and uplifted by the sterling performances and still singing the music of the night!

We managed to get seats in the stalls, row M 17 to 19 and were very pleased as the visibility is great. Pretty central and close to the stage so you can really experience the show. There isn't much space as the theatre is small so it does feel a bit cramped but not too bad.

Nadia Ansari
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Brian McCann but as Phantom he can’t!

As a 45th birthday treat for my Wife we travelled from South Wales to see the Phantom ( for the umpteenth time!) in January 2011.

We knew the night before via Twitter that John Owen-Jones would not be the Phantom due to illness but knew that we would be in safe hands with Scott Davies as the understudy. How wrong we were!

Brian McCann (named as swing on the website) donned the mask and was completely ill-prepared for the role. He couldn’t have been more out of his depth if the boat had capsized in Act 1! He completely lacked stage presence, had no voice to speak of and overdid the histrionics to the point that the Phantom became a caricature rather than a sympathetic figure.

The rest of the cast were completely fine, notably Sofia Escobar who was excellent as Christine.

I feel sorry for anyone who has the misfortune to experience this particular Phantom. It’s an iconic role that demands much of its performer, far too much it seems for Mr McCann.


Paul Johnson
Port Talbot
South Wales
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McCann’s masterpiece provides the perfect Phantom

Let’s get it clear: Paul Johnson of Port Talbot could not be more wrong in his summary of Brian McCann’s performance as understudy Phantom.

My wife and I were very much looking forward to seeing John Owen-Jones as Phantom, after recently seeing his superb Valjean. Whilst a little disappointed that we were seeing the understudy, we came with open minds. (11th January 2011 matinee, Stalls G12 and 13).

My praise is reserved for McCann’s masterpiece performance, combining a slight subtle stature with an explosive, concentrated, resonant Phantom. McCann’s Phantom is sensual, poignant and powerful, beautifully vulnerable, played and sung with aplomb. His performance moves you. It reaches off the stage, grabs you by the throat and begs you to empathise or at least sympathise with his plight.

(I rank McCann’s performance with some of the greats that I have been lucky enough to see, including Robert Stephens, John Wood, Simon Russell Beale, Philip Quast, Kenneth Branagh, Steve Balsamo, and John Owen Jones.)

Brian McCann should be proud of his performance. It was a privilege to see such a brilliant understudy and, whilst my wife and I will return for the matinee on 18th January hoping to see John Owen Jones, if Brian McCann happens to be playing again we know that we will not be disappointed.

(And, no, we are not ‘Phans’ or groupies. We simply want to catch JOJ as Phantom before the imminent arrival of our baby, as we will be unable to do much theatre afterwards.)

PS: Paul Johnson’s review referred to histrionics and caricature that weren’t evident on this occasion. I rarely feel compelled to ‘correct’ a review, but such vitriolic bile is unjustified. McCann’s Phantom has a depth and dimension beyond Johnson’s shallow review.

Christian Ball,
Kent
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McCann as Phantom = Phenomenal!

I was very shocked to read Paul Johnsons review of Phantom, notably his opinion/attack on Mr McCann. How anyone can say 'he had no voice to speak of' is beyond me. I understand people have different tastes but this is ridiculous!

I went to see the show on Sat 8th January 2011 and was overwhelmed by Brian McCanns Phantom performance. He has tremendous stage presence, his voice is flawless and the energy he put into the role was clear for all to see. I have seen this show about 4-5 times over the years and I for one was moved to tears by his performance.

Also, for the record, Brian McCann is a 'swing'* in the programme - yes, but he is also listed as 'first cover'** for the Phantom, Scott Davies is the standby Phantom, i.e., the 'alternate.'***

I hope to see Brian reprising the role in the future as Phantom himself, and not as his understudy. In my opinion, he is well worthy of it.

Amy
London

(Editor's note: * 'Swing' - performer who can fill in for a number of other performers if they are absent. Usually highly talented and skilled as they need to learn many roles in the show very precisely and may take over at a moment's notice. ** 'First Cover' the first choice actor to take a lead role in case of another's illness. *** 'Alternate' An actor assigned to play a lead role on fixed dates when the lead actor is absent either on holiday or taking a 'rest' day each week.)
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Two friends and I went to the matinee performance of 'Phantom' on the 18th January 2011. The first thing to say is that our seats in the stalls, Row F were fabulous, made even better by the fact that the rows in front of us were filled by school children which helped provide a flawless view of the action.

We had hoped to see the incumbent Phantom, John Owen-Jones after being mightily impressed by his latest performances in the 'Les Mis' tour and the 'Three Phantoms' concert but unfortunately illness had struck and so with much trepidation we took our seats to watch his alternate Scott Davies.

Having seen the show a few times before we had our own personal taste on how we like our Phantoms to be portrayed and were not sure how Scott would fare - we needn’t have worried. Although, perhaps not the strongest Phantom vocally, Scott provided his audience with a performance that was powerful and innovative.

The day was made even better when regardless of the fact he would be performing later Scott spent around fifteen minutes at stage door talking and having pictures with us. He is a true gentleman and a real star in a profession where there are few. The rest of the cast were as usual fantastic. Needless to say when we see this production again Mr. Owen-Jones has a lot of convincing to do.

Ciara Hemming.
West Midlands.
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Went to see 'Phantom' on December 8th 2010 - sat in M 28 and 27 in the stalls (if my memory serves me!) and the seats are excruciatingly uncomfortable. Tiny (child sized it appeared), and old - they leave you aching by the end of the performance. This theatre is in need of a massive refurb. These are probably the most uncomfortable stalls we have ever been in but the view is excellent and the small theatre itself (looking from the stalls) is lovely, very sweet and intimate but desperately need new updated seats!!

'Phantom' is one I have been putting off, as it is a 'must see' but kept getting knocked down my list of priorities... but as I was outvoted on this occasion, I went with an open mind but with no expectations... as I was a bit apprehensive about whether I would enjoy it or not... I was very pleasantly surprised. I really did have an excellent time and I would want to see it again.

Sofia Escobar and John Owen-Jones were incredible as the two leads, both with a combination of astonishingly good voices and great acting. Will Barratt as Raoul was very good, if not particularly memorable.

The music is very enjoyable and much more familiar than I expected. My one criticism (perhaps controversially) is that on several occasions, especially apparent in Notes/Twisted In Every Way in Act Two, there are too many people singing different lines over each other to hear what anyone is singing individually. Unfortunately this just makes it confusing and far too abstract to be enjoyable or helpful to the storyline in any way.

Having said this, these low points do not take away from the rest of the musical that when they hit the mark are absolutely breathtaking (such as Music of the Night or All I Ask of You - all versions!).

Overall I loved it and found it very enjoyable, and I would recommend it.

Beth
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17th February 2011, stalls Row G Seat 22. This seat provided a great view of the stage action. I found the leg room really good for my 6ft frame, the seat padding seemed quite thin though but it was comfortable. For the (access rate) of £29.75 I thought it was great value.

John Owen Jones was great as the Phantom and the music is still as great as ever. I am still undecided whether Stalls or Royal Circle is the best position for this show though.

My criticism of this theatre and show is that unless you book early, the theatre's seat allocations are actually not great (because ticket agencies take their allocations apparently), especially if like me you are picky with were you sit with Theatremonkey's advice at the ready!
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May 2011. This was the first time either of us had seen this.

We were both absolutely blown away by the beginning when the music starts and the chandelier begins its ascent. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I went all shivery! This show is an amazing visual spectacle and I would definitely go and see it again for that aspect of it alone.

The scene with the gondola, the dry ice and the candles was breathtaking and seamlessly done.

John Owen Jones stole the show for us, his voice is unbelievable. He evoked a lot of sympathy in the role.

I did enjoy the first half more than the second - I found a couple of the scenes in the second half overly long really. Also, I am not a huge fan of Charles Hart's lyrics and the way words are sometimes crammed into songs, whether they fit or not (and quite often they don't rhyme which bugs me!)

That said, this is a great show and I don't think you can be a regular West End theatre goer and not see it.

We sat in the Grand Circle, Row B16 and B17. The head of the man in front of me obscured my view slightly and my partner (who is 6'4") found that the legroom was not sufficient for him and he was a bit uncomfortable and had to keep shifting in his seat. It is a central position so good from that point of view and I would say it is probably one of the best places to get a good view of the chandelier going up and going down!
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Having read very mixed reviews of the front row seats at Her Majesty's Theatre I was a bit nervous about going to see 'The Phantom of the Opera 'for the 5th time and this time in row B seat 6. But I had no need to worry at all! I'm 5.4 and I had no problem with the leg room and the stage wasn't very high so you could see everything even at the back of the stage. The only "problem" is that you're so close that you have to decide where to look when a lot is happening at once as you can't see everything at the same time. For a first time goer I would recommend a seat further back but for someone who has seen the show at least once before it is absolutely perfect! I just love being close to the action and to be able to see the actors faces and costumes properly!
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9th July 2011.

I shall focus on my experience with buying the tickets, rather than the show itself (which was obviously outstandingly amazing!!!)

I'd been wanting to see the show for ages, but didn't fancy paying a massive amount for the tickets. Therefore I thought day seats would be perfect. I phoned the See Tickets box office number the day before I went (as the theatre does not have its own telephone line) to check that you could purchase day seats like other theatres in London. Having been told by the representative that yes you could in fact buy tickets on the door, at a cheaper price for the best seats in the house, we set off extra early, and arrived at the theatre at about 8.45am for the doors to open at 10am. A small queue formed behind us from about 9.30am, and at 10am, the doors opened and we were first to the box office window. After asking the very helpful woman behind the desk whether they had seats available, she informed us that Her Majesty's theatre does not offer day seats, never has and never will. Slightly perplexed, I informed her of the conversation had the day previously with a See box office member of staff, she hinted that this keeps happening and See continually give out wrong information, and that I should make a formal complaint to them about what had happened.

Not to be put off from seeing the show, we ended up paying £62.50 each for seats 13 and 14 in Row J stalls, as having got there early, queued up etc, we weren't prepared to have second rate seats. The view from here was brilliant, and absolutely fantastic for the chandelier moments, as well as enabling you to see the Phantom at the top of the rig (which you would miss out on if further forward or under the overhang if further back). The leg room however was ridiculous, and I couldn't have my legs directly in front of me. It would seem this row has been made smaller due to the premium seats in front of it, but having the asile seat meant I could stretch my legs out fully was the only saving grace. Sitting anywhere else in this row, I would have had to change seats, as I physically wouldn't have been able to last the duration of the performance (34inch legs...) Thankfully, the overwhelming performance and amazing view made me quickly forget about the leg room, but feel this should be mentioned when you buy the tickets.


To return to the See Tickets 'incorrect information issue', I emailed them the next day outlining the problem I had encountered. I had to phone See again, and after much discussion over the phone, they begrudgingly gave me their complaints department email address (something very difficult to find online). Multiple emails bounced between me and a specific person, wanting to know the date I phoned, the exact time, who I previously spoke to, the number I phoned from..... (all of which I was unable to provide) This went on for a week, and finally they said they were unable to find any trace of my call, as I was unable to provide enough information, but they did not doubt that I had indeed phoned, and that i was told incorrect information, and that they would refund me the full price of one of my tickets. Result! After providing them with the booking reference number on the ticket, I have the money back in my account, and was actually amazed at their ability to help me out (after being so notoriously bad!)
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Thursday 20th October 2011: 7.30pm.

After one emotional rollercoaster of a show ('Ghost') I went on to my next, Phantom. Kleenex was my friend that day. I had booked row E seat 1 of the royal circle for that night's performance as I had been wanting to see Katie Hall as Christine for AGES - and I was also pleased at the thought of seeing John Owen Jones as the Phantom, as I had previously seen the two actors in the 'Les Mis' tour last year. However it was not to be... When I got to the show and saw the cast board, Scott Davies was listed as the Phantom alongside Katie; and I had one other understudy - Marc Vastenavont as Piangi.

Having seen Scott before I was a little disappointed, as I hadn't been impressed with him on that occasion. However I decided I would give him the benefit of the doubt.

My view was very good. I couldn't see the chandelier rise all the way up to the ceiling due to the next level overhanging, but of the stage it was very good. I just about saw Raoul and the managers in their box during 'Think Of Me'.

Katie Hall as Christine was what I hoped. she was blo*dy brilliant. She is so young, which is how the part was written, and her voice was so powerful where it needed to be. Anna Forbes as Meg seemed to change the way she played Meg the last time I saw her with Sofia. With Sofia she seemed a bit more mature to compliment; but with Katie she acted so much younger, they did seem like childish yet lovable girlfriends.

Killian impressed me straight away. He is a very strong Raoul, not foppish and weedy at all. I truly wanted him to kick the Phantom's butt and get the girl, ha ha. The other principles were also very good. Barry James and Gareth Snook are a brilliant pairing when it comes to the managers, and Wendy Ferguson worked so well with Marc they also seemed to bring some comedy and personality in their roles...

...Which brings me to talk about the Phantom, Scott Davies. I actually started off really liking his performance. He seemed so active and young around Katie, he was bouncing around the stage. He sang brilliantly in the title song, and in 'Music Of The Night' he acted and sung flawlessly. I was beginning to change my opinion of him. But towards the end of Act 1, in the 'All I Ask Of You' reprise he seemed to lose his way. When he tried to bellow 'you will curse the day ...' his voice just cracked massively and you could barely hear him as he struggled to get the rest of the line out. It was such a shame. I hoped, given the intermission, he would have time to recover - but it was as if he had given up. The rest of the show he seemed very tired and bland. His voice cracked twice more during the second half, and I felt a little bit sorry for him because I can imagine that is one of the worst things that could happen to anyone on stage. He seemed to pick up a little in the final scene and I did feel pity for his Phantom as he told Christine he loved her and then his facial expression when she gave him back his ring.

I really enjoyed the show and everyone else was really good. However I do wish I had seen Mr Owen Jones instead. Maybe I will get a chance now the tour has announced Katie Hall as Christine and John Owen Jones to share the role of Phantom with Earl Carpenter. I wish this cast all the best for the rest of their contract, and I hope to see it again soon.
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18th November 2011, 7:30pm
I sat in the Upper Circle's B36, which is priced at £21 due to its very restricted view. You can see the full body of the actors and set from the centre over to stage left wings. From centre to stage right wings, you slowly are able to see less and less... You will be able to see the top halves of the actors when they dwell in the stage right area unless they are very far upstage right or very downstage right.

However, this musical is one of the few shows that uses the stage space in a constantly varied way. It is never a consistent struggle to see the actors, since they are always moving around. The other great thing is that you are not distracted by backstage activity - very professionally/smoothly done with black masking and respectfulness to audience members. In this seat, you are sitting next to a spotlight operator, but the gentleman I sat beside was very respectful.

Additionally, I am a 6ft tall fellow, and felt very comfortable, since I was on the aisle. I'd recommend this seat, even for a first timer, as long as they are not a grump, and are a theatre fan who doesn't mind a really close view with a bit of a restriction.
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I first saw 'Phantom' in the West End over 20 years ago and cannot believe I waited till November 2011 to see it again - twice! For the first performance I sat in a premium-priced seat in the stalls and for the second right on the front row, (I decided on this because I had the misfortune lately to end up behind some pretty tall people when sitting further back, which can somewhat ruin the enjoyment even in top-priced seats!). I had worried I would be too near, but as the stage is not so high as it is in productions such as 'We Will Rock You' at the Dominion Theatre was, for me it was PERFECT (in spite of less leg room than usual on a front row) and wonderful to be so close and to see all the facial expressions of the performers!

During the first performance I saw Sofia Escobar in the role of Christine Daaé and she was truly outstanding, with the most beautiful voice. During the second I saw Katie Hall. Having seen Katie in the 25th anniversary concert of Les Miserables, I knew she had a good voice, but had no IDEA just how powerful it really was since the part of Christine in Phantom is way more demanding than that of Cosette in Les Mis! Katie's vocal range is out of this world and I feel so lucky to have seen both Katie and Sofia and could not choose who played it better! Killian Donnelly as Raul was very endearing - he has a nice voice and his acting was wonderful (and what a lovely chap he is too in real life!), but the true star of the show has to be the one and only John Owen Jones as the Phantom. He acted, sang and performed to utter perfection and left us in tears! I first saw John playing the part of one of the students in Les Mis many years ago - he stood out even then! So it is no surprise to me he has gone from strength to strength in his career, and the role of Phantom is surely one of the most demanding on any singer. John did not let the audience down once - he is faultless, and I feel so lucky to have seen him play the part.

The music was haunting, the orchestra was outstanding right from the start, and as the chandelier rises, you just know this is going to be something special! Being on the front row, we were able to look down in the pit and thank the musicians in person at the end - WOW were they good and deserve appreciation! Thank you to all the cast and crew of Phantom for unforgettable evenings and many happy memories - can't wait for the next time!!

Fiona in Florence.
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21st January 2012.

Grand Circle, Seats D14, D15 and D16 were fantastic. Great views and right in the middle of the seating so good overall view and sound.

Booked these seats having reviewed them on this website beforehand and would like to add my recommendation as I was very happy.

Sarah,
Hertfordshire.
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I am demanding a refund for the two tickets I purchased through lastminute.com for the 14th February 2012 performance of Phantom. Buying through lastminute meant I couldn’t choose my seats…

Our Valentine’s celebration was ruined by a) the restricted view we had from our seats on the back row of the Royal Circle - H17 and H18 and b) the intolerable heat.

The overhang of the upper circle blocks the view of the upper part of the stage from row H. The restricted view prevented us from seeing significant action. Particularly the graveside scene at the start of Act 2, not to mention the spectacle of the chandelier and the phantom observing the scene on the rooftop. I deliberately didn't buy the cheapest tickets available as I wanted a good quality viewing experience, but I fail to see how we had anything other than the worst seats in the house. As we bent double to look at the action it was obvious that even one row forward in G the view was much, much better. I think it is criminal for the seats in the back row of the Royal Circle to be advertised and sold in the same price plan as seats with a far better viewing angle either elsewhere in the RC or in the stalls.

Not only this but the heat in our seats was intolerable. The size and space of the seats is uncomfortable enough to start with, but the added discomfort of the heat made for a very unpleasant and painful experience. This utterly detracted from the action unfolding in front of us as we were unable to focus or immerse ourselves in the performance due to the distraction of our pain.

I’m not normally a grouch! I really don’t waste much energy crying over spilt milk. Que sera sera! Live and let live! Make the most of the situation and don’t sweat the small stuff! But somehow the disappointment of what should have been a wonderfully enjoyable and romantic experience being destroyed so completely by such simple but effective factors has me utterly indignant.

Ed.
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Very enjoyable, polished 5 star performance.

However, very disappointed with “Theatre Tickets Direct”. Beware of their “Best Available Seats” offer. Our seats were Royal Circle B34-35 right on the outside of the row, clearly without full view of the stage as stated in some correspondence. It’s simply a way to sell second grade overpriced seats under the disguise of a special offer. Would have been happy to pay full price for better seats but no cooperation from “Theatre Tickets Direct”. I feel ripped off and will never touch this company again.

L. Kalberer,
Blenheim, New Zealand.
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Here I go with my review of my seating for 'Phantom of the Opera' on Thursday 12th July 2012.

I saw Phantom of the Opera on 12th July 2012 with a friend. We had seats F23 and F24 in the Stalls. The seats were phantastic (!) There was plenty of legroom and the view was very good. I don't think we missed a thing. It was great being so up close and personal to the actors and catching their eye on several occasions ;)

I don't think there is anything negative I can say about these seats, except that they are in the middle of the row and so you have to constantly stand up to let people pass. The most annoying part of this was that some people were late and so we all had to stand up to let them in to their seats during the show, so we missed a part of it, as did the people behind us!

As for the show...I've seen it three times now and I've never been disappointed yet. Special mention to Sofia Escobar who plays Christine Daae. She is superb. Such an angelic yet powerful voice, a beautiful face and wonderful stage presence. She fits the part perfectly. She's Portuguese so I'm guessing that English is not her first language, but you'd never guess from her performance. Not sure who I saw as the Phantom but he too was good, as was the actor who played Raoul.

I'd definitely go back, and I'd book the same seats too!

Debbi.
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