Most helpful positive review
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Not quite the usual "fully-staged production"
on 30 December 2011
On Blu Ray this makes a brilliant visual and auditory record of one of the best musicals ever made, for a fraction of the price of a seat. It is certainly a must-buy for any fan. In terms of the ability to get close to characters and see the detail of make-up, costumes and in clarity of audio, this exceeds any theatrical performance. The scale of set, orchestra and cast magnifies set pieces such as the opening or 'Masquerade'. Spine-tingling.
However, as Andrew Lloyd Webber himself points out, the success of a musical depends on many elements. Be aware that many of Phantom's signature staging effects are absent here, presumably due to limitations at the Royal Albert Hall. I was really disappointed, as the compromises led to something weaker and off-brand. The Phantom's appearance and drawing Christine into the mirror is handled more crudely through video projection and a sliding screen. The gangway does not tip from side to side, so less effectively illustrating the descent in to the Labyrinth. If you didn't know the show you could be mistaken for thinking the Phantom is lost, the way he wanders up and down! Saddest of all, the chandelier neither rises nor falls, though there are some nice pyrotechnic effects and moving camera work to disguise.
Lastly, I felt the Blu Ray missed a trick in not giving just a little more taste of the atmosphere of being at a live performance in the Albert Hall. The superb orchestra and the scale of the audience are rarely seen. Camera work is often so tightly focussed on individuals in the first half that some of the spectacle of the larger stage is lost and I was screaming for them to pull back and show me more. In the second half this worked better given the emotional interplay between the Phantom and Christine.
Overall still a fantastic experience, but disheartening given this will in years to come be regarded as the definitive recording of the show, and it fails to capture a few of the aspects that made it so magical on the stage.