By Andrew MacNiven
‘The Phantom of the Opera’ ranks as one of the best-known and well-loved musicals in the world. The creation of British impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber, it first opened in London’s West End in 1986 and is, by a lengthy margin, the longest-running show on Broadway.
It is therefore no small task to take on ‘Phantom’, and the weighty expectations of almost 30 years of theatre history. Thankfully, the cast and production team of this performance have ensured that their rendition lives up to that storied past.
This production highlights the depth of theatrical talent that exists in Western Australia. Aldo Di Toro, who plays the eponymous Phantom, is a graduate of the Western Australian Conservatorium of Music, and Nick Maclaine, who appears as Raoul, is well known to watchers of the Perth theatre scene, having starred in Class Act Theatre’s ‘Macbeth’ and Black Swan State Theatre Company’s ‘As You Like It’. Director Mark Barford, who has expertly executed a technically complex show, is another WA local.
Both Di Toro and Stephanie Gooch, who plays Christine, put in scene-stealing performances. Their aptitude for operatic song means they are perfectly cast in these demanding roles. Di Toro skilfully balances both the piteous and vitriolic qualities that make the Phantom such an intriguing and mystifying character.
Special praise is reserved for the live orchestra, which naturally provides much of the impetus for the onstage action. The songs will be familiar to anyone with a cursory knowledge of musical theatre, or even pop culture, yet they are no less evocative.
Producer and musical director Ian Westrip has done masterful work in bringing together this fine production, which is worthy of an even larger venue than the charming, but small, Regal Theatre.
‘The Phantom of the Opera’ runs until 11 October.