About 20 years ago, I watched the staging of Phantom of The Opera in Perth, Australia. I can still remember how that experience made me fall in love with musicals. And as I was studying Theatre and Drama at that time, I found myself in awe of every cast movement, every stage shift and the overall passion and love the cast put into their performance. Being a student of the Arts, one knew how meticulous it was to get each second of the performance happen successfully like clock work.
So when The Phantom of the Opera was announced to arrive in Malaysia I was thrilled. But like many sceptics, I too was wondering if it would really be the “real-deal”. Soon it was time for us media to preview the show and take a look backstage of this historical musical. As I was driving to Istana Budaya that afternoon for the preview, I was filled with excitement to watch what was in store, and feed my curiousity as to how they would pull-off staging the play on a smaller stage.
In his opening speech, assistant director, Reiner Fried was quick to address the sceptics by saying, “If you’re wondering like many others, yes, this is the original Phantom of the Opera. It took years for us to get here, but we are finally here in Malaysia.” He then went on to explain that it was a new set that was built in order to accommodate smaller theatres which allowed them to bring the show to more countries around the world. However, they did not compromise on the technical features, he shared.
Aha! A smaller stage, but would that still give me the same experience I had years ago? What about all the effects that were synonym to the West End and Broadway version of this legendary piece of art? But, I knew I had to watch it before I could make any judgement.