Review of the magnificent show
Well, if this is truly the case, the standing ovations accorded Phoenix Productions for their magnificent run of Phantom of the Opera in the Premier Hall last week, spoke volumes.
The four night run was packed out and those who went along were to be mesmerised by the excellence witnessed - audiences had to keep reminding themselves that each one of the performers on stage were under 21 years of age.
Now Phoenix Productions have been wowing Thurles audiences since 1998, but they perhaps reached another pinnacle with Phantom - a pinnacle which will be very very difficult to match again. Yes, their JC, Seussical, High School Musical and Les Miserables were very memorable. But, Phantom of the Opera was a step beyond again.
This is a very difficult show to stage technically, musically, vocally, visually, financially, but they did it. And, not only did it, but absolutely nailed it.
It was simply magnificent, from the Phantom himself - Sonny Dwyer ( his grandfather TK, a long time performer on stage could be seen in the younger form), to the beautiful Christine, played by Lucy Tobin, to the fabulous Raoul carried off with great aplomb by Paul Browne.
Throw in the likes of Roisin Heenan as Carlotta, Andrew Whelan(Firmin), Ryan Grace( Andre), Stephanie Browne (Madame Giry), Graham Maher (Piangi), Emily Murhpy (Meg Giry), Nathan Carroll (Joseph Buquet), Eamonn Shanahan (Reyer), Colm Sheppard (Lefevre), Robert Ryan (Jeweller), Melissa Morris (Wardrobe Mistress) and Aoibhinn Slattery( Confidante) and it is clear that Phoenix Productions featured a very talented and accomplished front line. All were excellent in their very varied roles and backed by a very strong chorus they whisked us off to Paris to witness the story unfold.
The picture envisioned by the production team of Gerard O’Brien, Aisling Doyle, David Wray, John O’Donoghue, Gerry Taylor, Allan Butler, Star Systems, and the wonderful costume and make-up departments could not have been more apt, as it carried us along from scene to scene, on a tidal wave of musical extravagance created so brilliantly by Lloyd Webber himself.
It’s hard to really find words to convey the brilliance of this production. Perhaps though it is sufficient to state, that had Lord Lloyd Webber been present for any of the performances in The Premier Hall, he would have been as proud of what he saw, as he is of the West End and Broadway versions.
Phoenix Productions is drawing attention from further afield than Thurles these days and it is wonderful to see others from outside committing to a summer of theatre. They have brought considerable experience with them and as well as engaging and participating in one of the most popular shows ever conceived, they also have made life long friends - the kind that can only be forged by carrying off such a magnificent project. It says a lot about Phoenix’ reputation for excellence.
Phantom of the Opera was a musical triumph in true Phoenix form. Thurles is very proud of this company’s courage, bravery commitment to excellence and their on-going achievements.
How 2014 will match up, is very difficult to know.