The idiom “needs no introduction” is possibly no more applicable to any stage production than that of The Phantom of the Opera. Having run consistently since 1986 in His Majesty’s Royal Theatre, save for the pandemic, the musical has dazzled generations with its grand spectacle and extreme, awe-inspiring musical numbers by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

For those uninitiated with the plot of Phantom of the Opera, it concerns the eponymous Phantom (Jon Robyns) harassing a theatre troop due to feeling generally unloved and unrequited love to Christine, (Lily Kerhoas) a member of the group whom the phantom has been teaching to sing.

Kerhoas is magnetic as Christine and plays brilliantly off of Robyn's creepy, unsettling demeanour. If Robyns lacks in any department, it's that I never felt his Phantom was as physically imposing as the one I had pictured in my head, but what he lacks in stature he certainly makes up for in vocal ability and stage presence. His and Kerhoas' singing shines most brightly during the titular Phantom of the Opera song, a personal favourite of mine.

What's most immediately and viscerally impressive about The Phantom of the Opera is the sheer scale and grandeur of the proceedings.

The stage design and practical effects are unparalleled to anything I’ve ever seen in a theatre production, let alone London's West End. Of course, there's the famous rising and falling of the chandelier, one that releases sparks and sways deceptively close to the audience, but this is only one of, if not somehow the least impressive set piece in the show.

Some characters seamlessly disappear through the floor with a burst of smoke, magic wands that shoot fireballs, mirrors whose reflections show images not present on the stage and even ghost ships rising from the floor.

The sheer quantity and quality of these impressive tricks turn the performance almost into a magic show with how expertly hidden the mechanics behind them are. These sets are populated by 37 actors in the ensemble and cast, all of which may appear on stage at one time during climatic music numbers or moments.

Watching such a large amount of actors all at once, working at the peak of their craft, ensures you’ll miss some charming details in someone's performance heavily incentivising rewatches. I noticed Carlotta (Kelly Glyptis) was consistently doing something of comic interest or note, yet my focus on her likely caused me to miss dozens of other noteworthy acting choices from the rest of the ensemble.

While it may be tempting to label The Phantom of the Opera as outdated with how unapologetically camp and 80s it is, its complete sincerity and deliberate lack of self-awareness is in part what makes it so charming and enthralling.

It's refreshing to see something so conceptually silly be taken with so much weight and seriousness. It is truly a musical everyone must see at least once in their lives, if not for the music itself then for the spectacle of it all.

  • This article was written by Julian Barker, from Peter Symonds College, as part of Newsquest's Young Reporter scheme.