The Phantom of the Opera is back in Manila

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The Phantom of the Opera is back in Manila and it is spectacular! I’ve been lucky enough to watch the world’s most popular musical a few times, but this new staging at The Theatre in Solaire is outstanding. I immensely enjoyed every scene and musical performance, as the impressive cast is outstanding.  

The Phantom of the Opera in Manila starring Jonathan Roxmouth as The Phantom, Meghan Picerno as Christine and Matt Leisy as Raoul

The Andrew Lloyd Webber blockbuster has won over 70 major theater awards, including seven Tonys on Broadway and four Olivier Awards on the West End. The musical masterpiece premiered last Thursday and I was so delighted to attend the Gala Night and the After Party at the Diamond Hotel.

Based on the classic novel “Le Fantôme de L’Opéra” by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera tells the tale of a disfigured musical genius, known only as the Phantom, who haunts the depths of the Paris Opera House. Mesmerized by the talent and beauty Christine, a young soprano, the Phantom lures her as his protégé and falls fiercely in love with her. It is a classic drama where jealousy, madness and passions collide.

Phantom is in Manila for a limited season only, with tickets available through Ticketworld.com.ph. The musical is here thanks to Concertus Manila and Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, and is presented by PLDT Smart. Sponsors include Novuhair, Diamond Hotel Manila and OOCL. Media partners are CNN Philippines, Tiger 22, The Philippine Star and Philippine Daily Inquirer.

James Cundall, CEO of Lunchbox, told me that the role of the Phantom is played by South African star Jonathan Roxmouth, as he did in the last staging here in 2012. Meghan Picerno plays Christine, and other stars include Matt Leisy as Raoul, James Borthwick, Curt Olds, Beverley Chiat, Melina Kalomas, Thabiso Masemene, Kiruna-Lind Devar, Sebastian Zokoza, Mike Huff, Joseph DePietro, Eric Anthony Lopez, Luke Grooms, Ian Jon Bourg, Michael Gillis, Rouel Beukes, Jennifer West, Robin Botha, Clara Verdier, Janelle Visagie, Jana Ellsworth, Deborah Caddy, Saverio Pescucci, Jesse Klick, Ayaka Kamei, Rachel Thalman, Claire Van Bever, Skye Weiss, Järvi Raudsepp, Hillary Reiter, JeeHyun Noh, Lungelwa Mdekazi, Megan Ort, Oliver Druce, and Alexander Mendoza.

I recall that the 2012 staging was at the CCP, and resulted in a standing ovation every evening. Jonathan, as the Phantom, made Far East history as he became the youngest English-speaking Phantom yet and won the Philippines’ Broadway World Award for his performance.  

Comparing hand sizes with Jonathan Roxmouth

I remember clearly how huge and expressive the hands of Jonathan were on stage. Watching him again for the second time, he is even more engaging and gave a solid performance. At the After Party, we compared the sizes of our hands to show the difference in size.

Jonathan has been captivating audiences around the world for over a decade with his vocal and acting talents, and has won numerous awards including four Fleur Du Cap Awards: for Best Performance in a Musical, in The Phantom of the Opera and Beauty and the Beast, Best Featured Actor in a Musical in Jesus Christ Superstar, and Best Supporting Actor in a Musical in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. 

Over the years, Jonathan has become one of musical theater’s favorite leading men. After the Phantom, his Manila fans will be glad to know that he will be back for a solo concert on April 13 and 14 only, “Jonathan Roxmouth, The Musicals in Concert,” also at The Theatre at Solaire.

Accompanied by a live orchestra, Jonathan and some very special guests are excited to enchant Manila audiences, with songs from best-loved musicals, including “Bring Him Home” from Les Misérables, “Memory” from Cats, “Luck be a Lady” from Guys and Dolls, “Maria” from West Side Story, and of course, the most famous song from Phantom, “Music of the Night.”  

Jonathan’s two-night concert will be a fabulous, feel-good night out, and as he told me, “Guaranteed to lift your spirits.” Tickets are now on sale at Ticketworld.com.ph.

The Paris Opera House was not only the scene of The Phantom of the Opera, it was also the reception venue of the celebrated grand wedding of Dr. Hayden Kho and Dr. Vicki Belo. I was very pleased to recently join the couple at a special dinner hosted by Belo Medical Group and Salcedo Auctions.

The dinner allowed guests an exclusive, first viewing of key pieces from Salcedo Auctions’ forthcoming marquee sale. Richie and Karen Lerma of Salcedo Auctions, and art aficionado Dr. Vicki Belo, invited special friends and art lovers to the unveiling of its latest collection of masterworks worthy of the title “Important Philippine Art,” two Juan Luna paintings, a boceto and a large oil on canvas, and a Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo painting closely linked to a work by the 19th century great in the Bank of the Philippine Islands collection.   

Luna’s 1880 boceto for “La Muerte de Cleopatra,” together with a larger circa 1890s oil on canvas “The Hunting Party,” and the circa 1880 “Draped Nude, Reclining in a Forest Landscape” by Félix Resurrección Hidalgo, both from the family that once owned Luna’s 1884 “España y Filipinas” now in the National Gallery of Singapore, took center stage among the impressive array of works which were introduced to the guests. Chauffeured to the venue in limousines provided by BMW, the selected guests were welcomed with a special cocktail courtesy of Hennessy VSOP. A sumptuous dinner followed, prepared by Happy Ongpauco-Tiu and artist Aleth Ocampo, elegantly paired with Hennessy XO, Hennessy Paradis Imperial, and Glenmorangie Signet.

Salcedo Auctions will be holding its “Important Art” Auction on March 9, at 2 PM at the Salcedo Auctions Showroom Three Salcedo Place, Makati City. The online catalogue is available at www.salcedoauctions.com, with public viewing daily until March 8. The auction will include over 130 works by the country’s leading artists, and very fine examples of Philippine colonial furniture and tribal antiquities. I’m excited to attend and perhaps wave my paddle, not to raise it to bid, but just to wave it at all the connoisseurs in the sale room.

More pics on Instagram @seaprincess88.

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