Her Majesty’s Theatre in London was filled with stars on October 10 to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of The Phantom of the Opera. Even Andrew Lloyd Webber was in attendance, speaking and performing during the night’s big finale, and it was all live-streamed on Facebook for the world to see.
Already playing in the West End, the current Phantom cast includes Ben Forster as The Phantom, Celinde Schoenmaker as Christine Daae, and Nadim Naaman as Raoul de Chagny, but they weren’t the only ones taking the stage at the special charity event. The broadcasted show began with a red carpet, which featured many past Phantom performers, such as Michael Ball and John Owen-Jones. The stream then took a three-hour pause while those in attendance in London viewed the musical, played by the current West End cast.
When the Facebook broadcast resumed, though, it took the internet by storm. People all over the world watched as Andrew Lloyd Webber and producer, Cameron Mackintosh spoke briefly about the award-winning musical and how it came to fruition. The two discussed the process of bringing Phantom to life and the struggles they faced in that endeavor, as well as how they feel about how it has changed over the years. The best was yet to come, however.
The first performance of the finale featured a woman that any Phantom of the Opera fan knows and loves – Sierra Boggess. The fan-favorite Christine Daae was set to perform in Paris’ production of the show, but after a fire in the basement of The Théâtre Mogador, the production has been postponed indefinitely. While unfortunate, this allowed Boggess and her co-star Gardar Thor Cortes to attend the 30th Anniversary in London. Boggess kicked off the finale by performing “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again,” half in French and half in English, with Webber accompanying her on piano.
The next act came as both a wonderful musical performance and a hilarious comedy sketch, featuring Celinde Schoenmaker, Nadim Naaman, and former Raoul, Michael Ball. The trio sang “All I Ask of You,” Schoenamaker having to choose between the two Raouls until she is ultimately cast aside, leaving Naaman and Ball to serenade each other. It was a huge hit with the audience, resulting in laughter and cheers.
The biggest moment of the night and the one that fans loved the most, though, was a six-person performance of the title song, “The Phantom of the Opera”, with four men and two women. The scene featured both Boggess and Schoenmaker as Christine Daae, as well as John Owen-Jones, Gardar Thor Cortes, Scott Davies, and Ben Forster all as The Phantom. While the performance was mostly in English, Cortes and Boggess sang their piece in French, a tribute to the Paris production. Many praise it as the best performance of the night, even better than the 25th Anniversary when the song was performed with Boggess, Hugh Panaro, Ramin Karimloo, John Owen-Jones and Peter Joback.
To close out the finale, the original cast and ensemble performed “Masquerade” and led into a party onstage with everyone from the night, as well as the crew that works behind the scenes.
Xavier Prince (’18) is a huge Phantom of the Opera fan, who also viewed the broadcast. When asked how he feels Phantom has evolved over the years, he answered that he feels it has become more fun and more tailored to a younger audience. His favorite part of the performance was “Masquerade,” as it is his favorite song. “I would’ve liked to see more stuff with Raoul and Christine because I love them,” Prince commented. While the livestream is no longer on Facebook, it can all be found on YouTube.