St James Theatre 2, Wellington

13/06/2013 - 06/07/2013

Production Details


The countdown to the premier of the most famous musical in the world has begun in Wellington as the city braces itself for the phenomenon that is The Phantom of the Opera.   

Premiering in the Capital in June, this all new production will be the greatest show New Zealand has ever seen on stage. 

More than just the world’s biggest musical, The Phantom of the Opera is said to be the most successful entertainment event ever, earning gross worldwide revenue of more than US$5.6 billion. It’s attracted more fans, smashed more box office records and captured more imaginations than any comparable show in history. 

“It really is in a class of its own,” says Co-Producer Adam Blackwell who is tasked with bringing Andrew Lloyd Webbers masterpiece to life. 

Blackwell says it’s a superb show which epitomizes all that is great about musical theatre – unbelievable music, a moving love story, lavish sets and costumes. 

The Phantom of the Opera is a worldwide sensation, and this local design element will only add to what will be an unforgettable musical experience for Wellington audiences. 

“Our stellar cast assembles the industry’s best performers, with many entertaining on the international stage,” says Blackwell, who promises the show’s production will be as outstanding as its West End or Broadway versions. 

Chris Crowe will play the role of Phantom, the tragic, disfigured musical genius who resides under the Paris Opera House. 

Chris has made numerous appearances in musical theatre productions, corporate events and on the concert stage throughout New Zealand and in Australia. He has played some of the most demanding roles in musical theatre including, Jesus in Godspell, Judas and Pontias Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar and more recently as Anatoly in Chess. He has also received critical acclaim as Teen Angel in the hit musical Grease

Wellington Soprano Barbara Graham will take on the female lead in the role of Christine Daaé, the Phantom’s obsession and beautiful protégé. Graham recently played the role of Despina in Così fan tutte, and has also appeared in various other classical operas including The Marriage of Figaro, Bastien et Bastienne and Jenufa

James Adams, also from Wellington will play Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny the love interest of Christine. His theatre credits include performances in Miss Saigon, Jesus Christ Superstar and Fiddler on the Roof

A classical tragedy that captures themes of dark obsession and unrequited love, The Phantom of the Opera contains some of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most famous music, including All I ask of you and Music of the Night. With spectacular sets and more than 200 costumes designed by the internationally acclaimed Allan Lees, it is a feast for the senses. 

“Wellington Musical Theatre has a long standing relationship with the Dominion Post who shares our passion for the arts. “We’re delighted they have come on board to help us bring this iconic musical to New Zealanders,” Blackwell says. 

The Dominion Post Season of The Phantom of the Opera will run for three weeks at the St James Theatre in Wellington. Make sure you’re part of this musical spectacular by purchasing your tickets from Ticketek. 

St James Theatre
13 June – 6 July 2013
Tue – Wed, 6.30pm
Thurs – Sat, 7:30pm
Sat matinees, 2pm
Sundays: 4pm

Phantom – Chris Crowe
Christine – Barbara Graham
Raoul – James Adams
Carlotta – Rosel Labone
Mme Giry – (TBA)
M Firmin – Craig Beardsworth
M Andre – Luke Bird
Meg – Camilla Besley
Piangi – John Goddard 

Female Ensemble
Charlotte Kirby-Thomson
Adele Bradshaw
Sophie Scott Maunder
Rachel Day
Pernille Osborne
Anna Sheffield
Cindy Randall
Rochelle Rose
Brittany Wallace 

Male Ensemble 
Nick Newman 
William Duignan
Lloyd Scott
David Bond
Nick Swan
Sam Benton
Vernon Prime
Stephen Ward
Chris Hayward
Jason Henderson
Ben Paterson
Ben Wombwell 

Charlotte Mawson
Nicola Morrison
Skye Hay
Liesl Eksteen
Danielle Gorham
Eliana Taylor-King
Male (TBA)

Booth Singers 
Bronte Fitzgibbon, Beth Noble, Rebecca Shadbolt, Abigail Kempf, Eilish Carmichael, Alice Russell
Bruno Shirley, Patrick Hape, Dominic Taffs, Garth Norman

Another spectacular night at the theatre

Review by Jo Hodgson 15th Jun 2013

“What a night!  What a crowd! Makes you glad! Makes you proud!” After 25 years on the professional stage worldwide, “He’s (finally) here!” at the Wellington St James Theatre.

The NZ musical theatre scene has been buzzing with excitement for months as this NZ premier has grown ever closer and the atmosphere in the theatre tonight is certainly electric. I recall listening over and over to the record while poring over the pictures of the original London production. I am looking forward to seeing a staged production for the first time.

Act 1 opens with old theatre pieces being auctioned off in the derelict Paris Opera House in 1911. “Lot 666, then: a chandelier in pieces. Some of you may recall the strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera, a mystery never fully explained …” And so we begin our journey back in time.

And what a journey! The sumptuous overture (played excellently by instrumentalists from Orchestra Wellington) accompany the set transformation into the Opera House as it was in 1881 and the chandelier rises like a spaceship to the ceiling. There are operatic melodies, diva antics, frayed nerves, mysterious voices, fatal ‘accidents’, hidden lairs, magical mirrors, young love, longing and despair and the singing, oh what fabulous singing.

The story, based on Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera, tells of the Phantom, a disfigured virtuoso who is infatuated with a beautiful young ingénue Christine Daaé. He mentors her – under the guise of her ‘Angel of music’ – and engineers the removal of lead soprano Carlotta Giudicelli and makes sure Christine gets the prima donna role in the opera company before he spirits her away to his lair underneath the Opera House.

The characters have all been expertly cast. 

Chris Crowe’s Phantom takes us on such an emotional journey it surprises me how much I genuinely care for this character. His voice moves effortlessly between raw persuasive power and sotto voce poignancy. ‘Music of the night’ is spine tingling.

Barbara Graham brings the necessary youthful naivety to Christine with her lyrical and carefree voice totally suiting this role, and we see her character develop and get stronger as she becomes more embroiled in the Phantom’s web. For me the popular ‘Wishing you were somehow here again’ was physically too busy, I would have loved to have seen a more still, inward reflecting portrayal.

Christine’s suitor Raoul is beautifully played and sung by James Adams. He brings such heart and strength to the role both in physicality and vocal precision.

I very much enjoy Rosel Labone’s characterisation of the spiteful diva Carlotta and a definite highlight are Craig Beardsworth’s Firmin and Luke Bird’s André who are a perfectly timed and fantastically sung comic duo. Their diction in particular is faultless.

All the other principal roles – Camilla Besley’s sincere Meg, Shirley Kauter’s stern Madame Giry and John Goddard’s comic Piangi – are ably supported by the large and very talented company of singers and dancers.

The costumes (managed by Terry Guillemot) are lavishly stylised, particularly the colourful fancy dress of ‘Masquerade’. Make up and wigs artist Edyta Koscielecki deserves special mention for the incredible detail of the disfigurement under the Phantoms mask.

The pyros and some of the effects unfortunately don’t always hit their mark but the lighting design (Jason Morphett) is evocative, the set from designer Allen Lees is impressive with its towering theatre boxes, gothic organ and the well known mystical underground lake scene including the famous gliding boat.

The pipe organ sound is definitely intense with its through-the-floor bass notes and the orchestral mix is great although not always balanced kindly to the company, notably so in the intricate 8 part numbers ‘Notes’ and ‘Prima Donna’ which lose a lot of clarity because the sound is quite muddy. 

The producer, Wellington Musical Theatre, the artistic team of director Grant Meese, Musical Director Michael Nicholas Williams, and Choreographer Leigh Evans with all the cast and crew, the majority of whom volunteer their time and skills, have produced another spectacular night at the theatre.


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Familiar, but still mesmerising

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 15th Jun 2013

It’s finally here. After 25 years playing in London, on Broadway and in many other cities around the world Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera has finally arrived on stage in Wellington.

The story of how a disfigured musical genius hides away in the Paris Opera House and terrorises the opera company for the unwitting benefit of a young protégé whom he trains and loves is probably one of the best known of modern musicals.

It has also been a movie and most of the songs have been covered by numerous singers during the years. There is therefore a strong and well-defined pedigree with a show like this and expectations are high for how Wellington Musical Theatre will deliver with its production of one of the most famous of modern- day musicals.

On the whole the production comes out a winner, with director Grant Meese, musical director Michael Nicholas Williams and choreographer Leigh Evans and their creative production team pushing all the right buttons to present a top-rate show that delivers in bucket loads.

While the set at times lacked atmosphere and the crashing chandelier was a little disappointing, the boat scene through the murky, misty waterways of underground Paris worked exceptionally well.

The costuming of the production was also superb, especially the large ensemble scenes, which were also exceptionally well choreographed.

As the Phantom, Chris Crowe gave a measured performance that will grow with confidence as the season progresses. Nevertheless, he was able to show that there was much more to the figure behind the mask than just a ghoul.

As his protégé Christine, Barbara Graham excelled, particularly in her solo numbers, and with Crowe’s Phantom they together avoided overplaying the final scenes and making them overly sentimental.

Competing for Christine’s love against the Phantom is Raoul, the patron of the Opera Company and in this role James Adams excelled. A consummate actor, he also showed great vocal strength and virtuosity in his musical numbers.

And all other supporting roles were equally strong, making the overall production still hauntingly mesmerising no matter how well the songs are known.

So get a ticket to this show whatever you do and experience “the music of the night”.


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