Monday, July 22, 2013

Could have been better .. Review of Phantom of the Opera (Singapore 2013)

I watched Phantom of the Opera in Singapore on 20th July 2013 at 2pm at the Marina Bay Sands Mastercard Theatre. This musical first debuted in 1986 and is still showing in London. It has been viewed by at least 150 million people all over the world.

I know of many people who have seen Phantom of the Opera several times, either on Broadway or in London’s West End or in the countless of re-productions in Australia, Singapore, Japan and many other countries in the world. Countless of people have also bought and listened to the CD recordings of this musical by the original cast of Michael Crawford (Phantom), Sarah Brightman (Christine) and Steve Barton (Raoul). I for one have seen Phantom of the Opera in London (not the original cast) in 2002 and more than 10 years later .. I watched it again in Singapore.

Somehow, I wasn’t as overwhelmed by the recent viewing as compared to watching it the first time. Why? Firstly, I felt that the singing was not as good. There were many parts where I could hardly hear the singing (this may be due to the bad acoustics at the MBS Theatre) … but there were parts where I could hear .. but the words were either being mumbled or just mashed up with the orchestra. I have listened to the original cast CD ( fact I own two copies) .. many times since I got it in 1986 as a present from my sister. I know it is unfair to compare the CD to the performance as the CD may be a studio recording as compared to a live performance. However, I can’t help but feel that the singing can be better .. clearer and brighter. The acting was good by the 3 leading cast members (Phantom, Christine and Raoul). The supporting cast members did their part well but yet again when it was time to sing, I found it quite lacking. Again it is rather unfair as the singing I am accustomed to is off the Phantom CD.

The stage / backdrops and effects were very good though I wished the chandelier could have come crashing a lot faster.

As Phantom of the Opera is a musical, the orchestra plays a very big part of the entire production. The orchestra was not too bad except for some parts where I felt that the tempo was going “Allegro” rather than “Adagio.” This was highly apparent during their performance of “All I Ask of You.” Again this is when compared to what I am more familiar with.

Overall, it was a satisfactory performance but to be brutally honest, not a ‘standing ovation’ kind of performance. For first-timers to Phantom of the Opera, this production would be a good one … but for Phantom of the Opera “veterans,” the differences are too wide to go unnoticed.


  1. The Phantom you saw in London, was it John Owen-Jones? If he was, you are so lucky! He's probably the one of the best Phantoms ever.

  2. I had watched the musical when it came to Singapore in 2007 and now in 2013. I too felt that the singing this time is not as good as the original cast (I owned the CD too) or the performance in 2007. I felt it might be because of Christine's singing. I do not feel as overwhelmed or even had goose pimples when she sang. Her voice is not as powerful compared to Sarah Brightman.

  3. @ruthafrita : I am not exactly show who was the Phantom then. It was 11 yrs ago. hahahah :) Thanks for your comments

    @Simple : I so totally agree with you. Many of my friends who caught this latest production also agree that the singing was just "bleh." Not only from Christine .. but Raoul as well. Phantom was slightly better. I do admit the props and stage was good and hi-tech and special but a musical is about the singing and how it is meant to move you and how u can feel it.. Sorry didn't feel it this time. Thanks for taking the time to comment :)

  4. I agree to all the points you all mentioned.

    I just watched it in Singapore on 26 Aug. After the show, I've been wondering whether I've set my expectation too high or was it really not as good as those we have seen and heard on DVD and CD. And I thought it was my problem. After reading a few reviews, I guess I'm not the only one feeling so. ^_^

    I can't agree more aboout the sound. It was soft from the first scene, first line. But when Phantom started his singing, it's so clear and so much power and emotion. Even Christine's and Raoul's singing weren't as great as Phantom's. When I recall the show again, it seemed to me that for that night, only Phantom was in character, while the rest were just getting it over. The feeling is didn't feel their connection. Not that they were really bad. They were good but I'm one of the 'veterans' of POTO. Second time watching. No goosebumps felt in the most romantic love songs "All I Ask of You". That's how disappointed I felt. Well, maybe it's all because of the sound and the design of the hall.

    I forgot how big the orchestra was in the first show I watched back in Winnipeg, Canada. But I remember there were goosebumps all over my body when the POTO theme song was played when the chandelier was light up. It was very overwhelming. But this SG show, I felt that the orchestra didn't bring the music to live enough. All the big songs were not so big anymore.

    Very sad to say, I felt a bit disappointed at the show. I didn't want to say it after spending all the money and time to travel there for my favourite show. But I can't deny that I am a bit disappointed. Sad... :(

    1. Hi Hi Thungthung .. where are you from? You actually flew over all the way to Singapore to catch this? Wow ... anyways I know I should not generalise ... but then all these Australian productions seem to disappoint. I have seen a Les Miserables (Australian production) as well and when compared to the UK production .. underpar. I have had friends tell me that Cats etc in Singapore .. also not as good. Again I stress ... these are actual experiences and so happen they were all Australian productions.

      Watching POTO this round was like just watching on TV. The sound and music may be because of the stage situation. But whatever it is .. the orchestra could have been better. Again thanks for your comments. Feels good to see that people actually read my blog.