I was at Her Majesty’s Theatre on Haymarket last night, at The Phantom of the Opera.
10 years in London and I’d never seen it. I’d always been somewhat precious about it, knowing that it’s such a blockbuster, rather old, and very touristy. But this needn’t have put me off as it was very good indeed.
It’s been on stage for 23 years and, rather than getting staid and a bit tired, they’ve managed to finesse the show and the experience for theatregoers. The stage sets are breathtaking, especially ‘The Journey’ which is the ‘lake’ scene. Huge candelabras rise out of the ground through a dense mist of dry ice and the boat really looks like it’s on water. An amazing effect.
I’ve always enjoyed the music and also the more recent film. I know it’s hardly cutting edge theatre but it’s a wonderfully entertaining night out. It ended with a standing ovation and 5+ minutes of continuous clapping by the audience (comprised heavily of Americans and W.European tourists). And every night it remains completely sold out – amazing. They must absolutely rake it in, our tickets were £45 which were fairly decent (Royal circle, centre, toward the back), but this is much more expensive than most London theatre productions I’ve been to.
These days I don’t theatre or concert go as much as I used to. Sheridan’s employer used to maintain a box at the Royal Albert Hall and I was there for, among other things, the Last Night of the Proms one year and in 2006 for the Queen’s Birthday Prom – sitting in a box very close to that of the royal party. It was a memorable evening (not least because it was suffocatingly warm), but I also remember how tight the security was. Is a very surreal experience singing the national anthem when the sovereign and her party are in such close proximity.
The last production I was at was Sunset Boulevard, a few months ago, which I also thoroughly enjoyed. I’d never been before and didn’t even know the story. It was a much smaller production than the original Sunset and worked really well. I also saw La Cage aux Folles back in December which was good.
Walked past Hamlet last night on my way to Phantom and thought how much I’d like to go. Alas, it’s sold out I think. The last Shakespeare I saw was Macbeth at the end of 2007, starring Patrick Stewart. Was a mesmerising production, quite incredible. I need to go more, especially as it’s on my doorstep.
I still, really want to see something by Tennessee Williams on stage. Hopefully one day soon.