Reviewed by Dave Smith
Having taken the courageous decision to tackle The Phantom of the Opera, Director Matt Byrne succeeded in capturing its essential darkness and mystery. Rodney Hrvatin added to that with his adept handling of the concealed orchestra.
The set and costumes were striking and effective in bringing the right mood to the piece. This production did well to adapt them to the Arts Theatre’s relatively restricted performance area.
Although well known, the story needs to be clearly portrayed. This production managed that well. Michael Bates was a commanding figure as the Phantom, and he grew in confidence and power as the play progressed, bringing a broad dramatic and vocal range to his performance. Ellonye Keniry provided a vulnerable foil to Michael’s character. She, too, brought an increasing depth to Christine’s character through the course of the action.
Will Daniels looked the part as Raoul and carried himself well. David Gauci as Piangi and Dione Baker as Carlotta were splendidly satirical as the company’s opera leads, while James McCluskey-Garcia and Michael Williams worked well with each other as the owners.
While there were some early problems with hesitation, pitch and timing, the company worked well to bring unity and purpose to the production. They handled the ensemble singing well. Prima Donna was a hit, as was Masquerade which opened Act 2. Sue Pole’s tight choreography was prominent in that piece too.
All power to Matt Byrne Media for taking on the challenge and bringing the South Australian premiere of Phantom to the stage.