It was in December of 2014 when we saw Phantom of the Opera for the first time. I was never that much into musicals, until I saw my first one. Or better… my second one. The first one was Starlight Express many many moons ago. It was good, but that was it for musicals for a long time. Then, some years ago, I won tickets for the Queen musical We Will Rock You. I was highly skeptical at first how they would work a story and that typical musical-style singing into a … well … musical. I was prepared for the worst. Was prepared to hate how they had probably butchered Queen’s iconic songs. Turned out that both S and I loved it SO much, that we bought tickets to see it a 2nd time.
Next musical was Dance of the Vampires (after Roman Polanski’s famous movie). Again tickets were won, this time S was the lucky one. Never in my wildest dreams we would have thought about buying tickets to that musical. Not interested. But now we had two tickets and the chance for a trip to Berlin (since the show took place there). Any excuse going to Berlin is a good one and so we went. And came out, totally liking the Vampire musical. And it was totally unexpected! No, we didn’t go a second time 😉
That was when we kept asking ourselves, if we should check out one of the “big” productions. Like the Phantom. Also we would love to see Cats, but that’s not playing anywhere at the moment. At least not in Germany. We had even looked for London but not even there it’s playing regularly anymore (unlike e.g. the Phantom or Les Misérables).
And so we kept thinking about going to Hamburg, because that is where the Phantom has played for many years. I got a ticket for my birthday in 2014 and so we went. And OMG was it ever wonderful! I couldn’t believe how awesome it was and on that same evening we said that if there was a chance, we’d see it again. Back then we had tickets in the 2nd row, which sounds awesome. But for this musical, it’s better to sit more in the middle of the auditorium, not at the front of the stage. You can’t fully grasp the awesome awesomeness of what that stage looks like and you don’t have the full “chandelier effect”. If you’ve seen the musical, you know what I’m talking about. The good thing about sitting so close was though, that you could see the faces of the actors so very well… all these facial expressions and emotions… you could see these amaaaazing costumes up close. So it was all in all a good experience. But we were advised from my dear auntie A, who’s a huge fan of that musical and has seen it already 3 times, to sit some rows back the next time.
And then the production moved from Hamburg to Oberhausen. In Hamburg they play the sequel now. Yes, there’s a sequel to the original story and I’m not sure if I even want to see that. To me that sounds like a sequel to Gone With The Wind. I read it, but it felt wrong in the end and I regrettet it. (And just remember that sequel to Me Before You? LOL). But I digress. So the production moved to Oberhausen. And that is a cat’s leap from Velbert. I was like WE HAVE TO GO AGAIN!!! and S listened to me and – again – bought tickets and I got one for Christmas last year. YAY!
So here we were on Saturday. I was curious about how the Metronom Theater in Oberhausen would be different from the Flora in Hamburg (which was built back in the day solely for the Phantom musical coming to Hamburg. Now they are also home to other productions.)
Gotta say it’s quite nice and all, but it’s of course not comparable with any historic theatre. These are just modern buildings that serve the purpose. Everything looks nice and halfway festive, but that’s it. And that’s ok.
But it didn’t look like there were many people here that evening. In fact the theatre was maybe a bit more than half full. I’m not sure why, since the Phantom is a highly popular musical. Could be that many people had something else to do or were on vacation. It was Easter after all.
Funny enough, S and I had discussed if people like us – aka: people who are no musical experts and don’t know any of the stars of the genre and don’t know really that much about classical music – would hear a difference between different singers. We weren’t sure if the cast would be the same as it was in Hamburg and it wasn’t, if we’d hear a difference. We both agreed we probably wouldn’t.
And then we did.
But first, let me say that – no matter the slight differences in some of the performer’s voices – I once again loved the musical so much that I have a feeling I’m becoming a little bit obsessed with it 😉 No really… it was wonderful. And it was the right decision to sit quite in the middle this time and be able to fully enjoy that BREATHTAKING stage set-up. And the sound effects are so much better when you’re not sitting up close. (That’s maybe also why ticket prices are only slightly lower than in the first rows.)
Anyway… what we both noticed though was, that we thought the voice of the guy who played the Phantom wasn’t nearly as good as that of the Hamburg guy. It was pretty much obvious. You don’t need to be an expert. Which doesn’t mean the guy couldn’t sing or was awful. He wasn’t!! You don’t get that job in such a production if you’re not good. But still… the difference was there! Same for another male character, that of ‘Raoul’ (for those familiar with the musical). I didn’t like that guy at all!!! He sounded like he’s not only B-list but C-list. WTF??? Thankfully, it’s not that big of a part but really… I’m not sure how HE made it into that production.
But that little annoyance didn’t ruin anything. Absolutely not. Just like in Hamburg, I had tears rolling down my face almost completely thoughout the first part. I don’t know why but it just touches me so deeply and that beautiful music and whole setting makes me so crazy emotional… I can’t even say why. It is like it is.
I can see now, why this is one of the – if not THE – most successful musical of all times. I can absolutley and 100% see why.
Here are some impressions.