07 June 2006

An Audience with the Angel of Music

Coming to London, I had 2 leisure objectives that I wanted to accomplish in the capital. The 1st was visiting Highbury stadium & attending at least 1 Arsenal game (I have since been to 2 of Arsenals League Cup matches).

The 2nd leisure objective was to watch Andrew Lloyd Webbers Phantom of the Opera (POTO) that is currently being staged at Her Majestys Theatre, West End. Ever since I was introduced to this show via the 2nd issue of the (probably now defunct) weekly magazine series Musical Collection, I was captivated by the stage adaption of POTO by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on the French novel Le Fantôme de lOpéra by Gaston Leroux. I even purchased the recording of the original POTO run starring Michael Crawford & Sarah Brightman, & vowed that someday, Ill see its theatre play. Heck, the release of the movie version of the play in 2004 only served to interest me further in watching the theatre.

I initially tried to attend a matinee of POTO during the 2nd week of my arrival in London, before school began the week after, only to find that I got the day wrong as I went on a Thursday while matinees are only on Tuesdays & Saturdays. Since then, I KIVd POTO until a fortnight ago, when I went to West End on a Friday evening, as part of a trio to get tickets. You see, the theatre via numerous ticket booths, sells discounted tickets for shows staged on a particular day, on the day itself. Sometimes, 1 can get discounted tickets online but the best (it seems) is to go & buy tickets just before the show. However, POTO being 1 of the most popular shows is usually sold out & rarely can 1 find truly cheap tickets for it, according to a ticket booth staff. As such, we were unlucky that Friday evening as it was, ladies & gentlemen, sold out.

You may call it 3rd time lucky for me, as on the 6th day of the 6th month of the 6th year of the new millennium, I finally managed to get a ticket for a matinee show. Our seats were at the central area of the Grand Circle, the 2nd floorof Her Majestys Theatre seating area the lowest being the Stalls, followed by the Royal Circle, then Grand Circle & the highest is the Balcony. From my observation, the crowd for this staging consists of many tourists & in the Grand Circle, a group of kids on a school excursion to see POTO.

The seats were comfortable but with very little leg room. I would imagine someone about 6 feet tall having problems with it, such as the guy sitting 2 rows below us, who seemed to be a bit disinterested & was there probably due to his girlfriend. This guy height partially blocked our view of the stage below.

Anyhow, the play starts right on the dot at 1430. My eyes were glued to the stage throughout the Act 1. Personally, I like Act 1 more as it is in this act where the best songs are performed, namely, Think of Me, Angel of Music, rock inspired The Phantom of the Opera, the haunting Music of the Night & the ballad All I Ask Of You. The play stopped for a 15 minute interval before resuming with Act 2. During the break, theatre attendants set up a mini stand along each aisle selling ice cream.

Although the play is still performed as traditionally as possible with an orchestra & the performers actually singing their parts, the production does benefit from modern technology, such as during a part when the Phantom is supposed to address the play (unseen) from the back area of the theatre (this effect is accomplished via a speaker), the boatused to access the Phantoms lair (I suspect its remote controlled) and some nifty pyro & lightning effects.

In case you are wondering, from where I was seating, 1 wearing spectacles like me can see the stage pretty well but perhaps not in detail (ditto for the faces of the performers, although I could for brief periods when the stage is fairly illuminated & by squinting my eyes). Alternatively, binoculars are provided for use at 50p rent. Nevertheless, itll definitely be ideal to get seats at the lower tiers (but having to pay more).

In conclusion, I am satisfied & happy that I was able to finally see POTO. If ada rezeki, I would want to see it again. I would definitely recommend POTO to anyone wanting to see a theatre show, which is a continuous best seller.

On the walk home, passing Covent Garden, I saw for the 1st time a UK version Iswara Aeroback on the road. I have numerous times previously seen the UK version Proton Wira near FRC & around the area near Malaysia Hall at Bayswater.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I want to retire to my slumber while listening to the Music of the Night.

Till later, live long & prosper.

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