Watched every episode of Love Island? Or, like me, successfully avoided every episode of Love Island?
Well, a group of young people who are members of the Millennium Forum’s Youth Production of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ have certainly achieved something remarkable in just eight weeks!
The young singers, actors, dancers and musicians rehearsed Andrew Lloyd Webber’s monster light opera in record time and presented the opening night audience with an incredible spectacle.
Under the musical direction of Alan Wright, the orchestra thrilled the audience with the beautiful score which includes ‘Think of Me’, ‘Angel of Music’, ‘All I Ask of You’ and the title song.
Aodhan Kehoe had the daunting task of playing the titular Phantom which he did with a foreboding menace, striding around ‘his’ opera house with confidence while also portraying the vulnerability of the tortured soul.
Tirna-Kate Fox played his muse Christine with an assurance which belied her young years and her voice - my word, her voice - such a clarity of tone that never once faltered in that testing score. Bringing a heartwarming and protective Raoul to life was Jack Carberry. He gave a powerful performance of Christine’s true love and protector and his singing voice in ‘All I Ask of You’ was exquisite.
While, at first glance this musical may seem to be totally centred around Christine and the Phantom, it is hugely reliant on equally talented performers in the supporting roles too. And this youth production had some incredibly talented young people in its ranks - a wonderful double act of Carlotta and Piangi was brought to us by Rachel Harley and Matthew McLaughlin. Matthew brought top notch comic timing to the role of the conceited Piangi while Rachel perfectly portrayed the diva Carlotta - and what a voice! Once again, listening to Rachel, I had to remind myself that this was, in fact, a youth production.
Grace Doherty gave a mature and assured performance of Madame Giry, commanding attention whenever she stepped onto the stage.
Shannon Peake gave a delightful performance as Meg Giry, Christine’s friend and confidante.
A reminder that just because you aren’t playing a title role doesn’t mean you can’t shine on stage came from Leon Cullen and Matthew Irwin as Andre and Firmin - the two new and unsuspecting owners of the opera house which is home to the Phantom. Their double act provided both comedy and dramatic tension with Matthew particularly commanding and holding attention with every entrance.
The Phantom of the Opera is a sumptuous spectacle and the ensemble brought that sense of the splendid to the show with their vocal and danced performances - special shout out to the solo male in the ballet ensemble.
Make no mistake, The Phantom of the Opera is no easy little musical to throw together in just eight weeks so what these young people achieved under the direction of Jonathan Burgess and production of David McLaughlin is quite incredible.
The Phantom of the Opera runs at the Millennium Forum until August 6 - book your ticket today www.millenniumforum.co.uk....that’s all I ask of you!