Posted by: krisinhawaii | April 28, 2008

Saturday, April 25….Phantom of the Opera.

Sorry we are so late in posting… Saturday was our last full day and we decided to hit Leicester Square early (well early for us–10AM) and try our luck at standing by for half price (so they say) same-day theatre tickets…The tickers above the counters were reading “Phantom from £18.50…Lion King from £24, Les Mis from £20… ” Signs were all around, advertising the same…Sounds good, right? But because there were so many places to get same day tickets, and so many tourists around, I worried we were going to get to the counter and have them say “Oh sorry, we only have £60 seats left in the top circle…” Much to our delight, however, that wasn’t the case and we got decent seats for £24.50, including the booking fee and credit card fee… I was really happy with that, and later heard that Phantom tickets are quite hard to get. Considering it was a matinee and a Saturday, I was happy with that…

We found a fish & chips place to eat before hand…Our show started at 2:30 so we went to find the theatre, which you can see in the photos.

Once the show started, I was almost in shock… I knew from the first second it was going to be dazzling…but how can I even describe this? There are not even words…the art direction, lighting, sparkling costumes, fantastic singing and dancing…all top of the line…INCREDIBLE… I have seen lots and lots of musicals in my day in lots of place, but I have never in my life seen anything that measures up to this. The whole first act was mesmerizing… Chris’s first words when they first raise the chandilier were ” Oh Mama.. the visual effects in this are awesome!” It was gorgeous, magnificent and totally fabulous…to see this show performed on the London stage, in a 19th century theatre…I am speechless…and Chris was not bored or squirmy at all, how could anyone be? !!! I savored every second, I did not want it to end. I think if we had seen this show any earlier, I would have been addicted to going to shows, and might well have had to see them all.

So here’s my last big photo album… with photos of the West End, Leicester Square, the theater before and after the show, a few inside (illegally shot)… There were so many highlights about the trip, but this was definitely the best for me. Here’s a bit of the history of the theatre:

The current theatre is actually the 4th theatre to occupy this site: The first, called The Queen’s Theatre, was built by Sir John Vanbrugh and opened on 9 April 1705 – when theatre changed its name to The Kings Theatre in 1714 when King George I ascended the throne. This theatre was associated with opera from the early 1910’s until 1789 when the theatre was destroyed by fire.

The second theatre was designed by designed by Michael Novosielski and opened in March 1791. This theatre was again associated with opera, aswell as ballet. It was here that some of Mozart’s opera were first presented in London – La Clemenza de Tito in 1806, Cosi fan Tutti in 1811 and Don Giovanni in 1816. Between 1816 and 1818 alterations were made to the auditorium and facades by John Nash and George Renton who also added the Royal Opera Arcade which runs along the rear of the theatre and still stands today. In 1837 the name of the theatre was changed to Her Majesty’s Theatre, Italian Opera House when Queen Victoria ascended to the throne.

The ‘Italian Opera House’ part of the name was subsquently dropped in 1847. Then, in December 1867, the theatre was once again destroyed by fire. The theatre was then rebuilt in 1869, this time designed by Charles Lee, although the theatre remained dark until 1875 when once again opera was mostly presented here. In 1892 the theatre was demolished, leaving just the Royal Opera Arcade.

The current, and fourth, theatre on this site was designed by C J Phipps and opened 28 April 1897. Now mostly plays were presented here, with just the occasional opera. Then in 1916 Chu Chin Chow started a record breaking run of 2,238 performances. In 1929 Noel Coward’s Bitter Sweet was produced here and enjoyed a run of 697 performances. After the Second World War the theatre mostly presented musicals which included Brigadoon in 1949, Paint Your Wagon in 1953, West Side Story in 1958 and Fiddler On The Roof in 1967 which had a run of 2,030 performances. The current production, the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Charles Hart musical Phantom of the Opera opened here on 9 October 1986. Renovations took place of the dome and exterior in 1992, and of the interior in 1994.

And some more about the show: With some of the most lavish sets, costumes and special effects ever to have been created for the stage, The Phantom of The Opera is a haunting musical which traces the tragic love story of a beautiful opera  singer and a young composer shamed by his physical appearance into a shadowy existence beneath the majestic Paris Opera House. Adapted from Gaston Leroux’s classic novel of mystery and suspense, this award winning musical has woven its magical spell over audiences in over 60 cities worldwide.

Last day///Phantom 4/28/08 4:21 AM

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