A truly mesmerising performance of Phantom of the Opera

By Maureen Sullivan Feb 17, 2024
pics: Paul Bird Photography

Shoreline Productions (once Ventnor Theatre Group) showed ambition in staging the iconic, complex ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ at Shanklin Theatre, and the result was a resounding sell-out success.

The practical requirements of stage and set were met by huge set pieces, effective lighting, on-point pyrotechnics, beautiful costumes and slick stage management. Sound quality was generally excellent, with the fabulous orchestra in the capable hands of Tony Careless supporting the voices on stage as well as contributing to the atmosphere of the show.

Joel Morris’ and Rosie Sales’ choreography was amazing throughout, from the mesmerising ballet sequences to the magnificent ensemble Masquerade. The ensemble and minor characters supported the main performers very effectively.

Each of the main singers, under experienced musical directors Tony Careless and Rosie Hayward, did justice to the challenging musical arrangements: Megan West was suitably authoritative as Madame Giry, yet showed her pity for the Phantom. Her daughter Meg was portrayed to perfection by Rosie Sales. Jake Alabaster’s dance skills were very much in evidence in his role of Piangi, while Paul Smith and Joel Leverton bounced nicely off each other (sometimes even physically!) as Monsieurs André and Firmin, with strong vocals.

Bertie Everson was charming and engaging as Raoul, especially in his duets with Christine.

Steve Jones brought his considerable vocal strength to the title role, commanding and sinister yet revealing the broken man beneath the iconic mask.

But for me, the standout performances were in the two main female roles. Holly Gardiner was a veritable powerhouse as Carlotta, perfectly encapsulating the arrogance of the prima donna, and her voice was truly mesmerising.

Ashleigh Mackness as Christine was the perfect choice, her powerful singing and nuanced performance perfectly evoking Christine’s vulnerability, love for Raoul and compassion for the Phantom. Director Jeanie Brown can be very proud.

I would heartily recommend that you see the show – but as it has sold out I can only commiserate with those who have not managed to obtain tickets, and advise you to move quickly when Shoreline Productions announces its next show!