4 (Fictional) Serial Killers Who Love Musicals

A couple years back Cracked wrote an article about studios tricking audiences into seeing bad movies and one of their examples was Sweeney Todd: Demond Barber of Fleet Street.  Not that the film is bad (in my expert opinion) but Warner Bros decided it would be easier to release trailers which didn’t disclose that the film was a musical because they felt that everyday audiences would be put off by all this singing malarkey. To demonstrate the dilemma Warner Bros was in, Cracked developed this delightful pie chart.

killer 6



I’ll admit I’m too squeamish to be a horror fan (let alone serial killer) but I’ve watched a lot of movies with murderous characters and noted that a love of musicals and love of killing do occasionally go together, like rama lama lama
ke ding a de dinga a dong.


Leon from Leon the Professional

Working as a professional hit-man, Leon lives without friends, family or even a conscience. He is reluctant to let Mathilda into his life after her family is killed but over time they form an emotional attachment, proving he is capable of love after all. Of course the film can’t just jump from a man having no soul to becoming a father figure, so early in the movie they place little hints that he is capable of feelings. Firstly is the love and care he takes to tent for his house plant. But secondly, and more important for the purposes of this article, is the look of wonder on his face when he goes to the cinema.


That look of wonder is inspired by Gene Kelly’s seminal classic Singin’ in the Rain. Now before you argue that the wonder of cinema itself is inspiring him, Leon is not exactly a movie fan. Later in the movie, Mathilda dresses up as famous actors such as Charlie Chaplin and Marylin Monroe. Leon doesn’t even recognise, let alone care for these characters, but when she begins singing and dancing around with an umbrella, as Kelly did in Singin’ in the Rain, it’s all smiling and fatherly affection.

What I’m trying to say is, people who don’t like musicals are more inhumane than some serial killers.


Alex in A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange was years ahead of Sweeney Todd in combining carnage and a good show tune. Alex proclaims his love of “Ultra violence” is brought upon by the music of Beethoven and Mozart, but one of the film’s most shocking scenes is the gang rape of a woman while belting out the lyrics to Singin’ in the Rain.


Makes you wonder what is up with that film when two of the killers on this list love it so much. Though this is the only example we get that Alex even cares about musicals, he does know all the words and I’m pretty certain that makes you a bit of a fan. Clockwork fans must have picked up on it because they developed this little mix of iconography.


This killer has no redeeming features. Call me old fashioned, I know lots of likeable characters who technically (or straight up) count as killers, but does rape definitely crossed the line between good and evil. The only good thing we can take from this is that even in such a bleak future, quality music at least survives.


Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs

Once again we have a killer who primarily listens to opera (which makes me think I should re-write this list about murders who love opera). But Hannibal does quote song lyrics from the classic Broadway musical Oklahoma! when he says to Clarice that “people will say we’re in love.” He also rips the face off a man and wears it, shortly after eating another man’s ear.


There are two murders in the film and Lecter the Oklahoma! fan is the favourite by far. The film has been made into a musical know as Silence! The Musical but it is a parody with the opening number actually sung by lambs.


Patrick Bateman in American Psycho

Patrick Bateman rapes and kills women and men in his apartment with a Les Miserables poster on his wall.


He also mentions that he has matinee tickets to the show so he’s a pretty big fan. Anyone who has read the book or seen the film will know that it acts as a critique of soulless consumer culture. Musical fans may know that the 1980s not only marked the boom of Wall Street (which is blamed for giving these characters the money to be so consumer driven) but the rise of Megamusicals like Les Mis. These shows were heavily marketed money-making machines, hated by critics for having a lack of substance underneath all the epic stories and big sets. So it’s fitting that Bateman would love the high-grossing blockbuster musicals that are void of any real sentiment. His love of Les Mis is as much an understanding of this shallow character as his love of perfect business cards and Rolex’s.

I tip my hat to you author Bret Easton Ellis for creating an inside joke for us musical fans. Even though I love Les Miserables and in no way consider it part of the consumer culture or lacking in sentiment (I’ve yet to meet anyone who has seen it without crying), I understand why it has been viewed as such. Once again the film/book has been made into a musical, hopefully Bateman moonwalks with an axe to a decent show tune.



Harvest Rain Theatre Company at The Concert Hall, QPAC in Brisbane

“Oh what a beautiful Mornin’! Oh what a beautiful day! I got a beautiful feeling, everything’s going my way”

Cowboy Curly and farm girl Laurey tease each other but are too stubborn to admit their feelings. When farmhand Jud asks Laurey to the box social, she accepts to spite Curly but she later finds Jud is obssessive and determined to make her his own. Meanwhile Laurey’s friend, the empty headed Ado Annie has trouble staying true to her fiancée when the peddler Ali Hakim tries to woo her, she’s “just a girl who cain’t say no.”

This show was ground-breaking in its day as the first fully integrated musical and longest running of its time. 70 years later, the show is considered a classic and still performed around the globe. While people today may not agree with all the ideologies of America’s past, the basic human values and dreams presented in Oklahoma! are eternal. The characters have such depth and three-dimensionality, even the villain and the comedic subplot characters are given poignant moments.

I could not possibly be critical of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s book or score for Oklahoma! As a critic I have no hesitations in being pernickety over the works of many talented artists and wonderful shows, but even I draw the line at fault-finding in a Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. That stuff is critic kryptonite. I could cavil the show for its choices in casting, costumes, set design, choreography… at least I could if the show wasn’t produced by Harvest Rain Theatre Company, one of (if not the) finest musical theatre companies in Brisbane.

Making their professional debut, Harvest Rain has excelled itself in casting. At first glance Ian Stenlake appears a tad too old to play Curly, especially opposite a young Laurey. But his natural charm and great chemistry with Angela Harding made the role his. With such a sweet voice, Harding is definitely an actress to watch out for. Andy Conaghan is equally impressive with a deep soulful voice that made Jud Fry’s ‘Lonely Room’ such a show-stopping number. Even though he’s the villain of the piece the audience constantly felt sympathy for him. ‘Lonely Room’ changes him from a creepy loner to an anguished outcast and even though we want Curly and Laurey to end up together, Conaghan’s desperate portrayal of Jud during the bidding scene sees that we continue to empathise with him a little.

The love triangle between Ali Hakim (Matty Johnston), Will Parker (Glenn Ferguson) and Ado Annie (Erika Naddel) created most of the shows laughs as the actors hammed up their roles. Naddel’s belt during ‘I Can’t Say No’ puts Gloria Grahame’s number in the film version to shame while missing none of the humour. Naddel constantly utilised the accent and various personality traits of character for laughs, especially the frequent exclamations of “pruuurdy!” (translation: pretty). All of the accents seemed over-exaggerated at first but the lyrics demand those inflections and it’s something you get used to.

I found many of the costumes to be gaudy and I’m not just talking about the outfits of gaudy characters like Ali Hakim and Gertie Cummings. The colours were just unnaturally bright, especially against the wonderful rustic set which was also designed by Josh McIntosh in his dual role of costume and set designer. Jud’s smoke house in particular created such a sense of the character; while others sing and dance in sunlit cornfields, he festers away in a dark room surrounded by girlie pictures.

Callum Mansfield’s choreography is always a highlight of Harvest Rain productions which explains the company’s almost constant choice of dance filled shows. Oklahoma! is no exception with ‘Kansas City,’ ‘The Farmer and the Cowman’ and of course ‘Laurey Makes Up Her Mind.’ The dream ballet allows the audience to see into Laurey’s psyche, her hopes and fears displayed in one heavily metaphoric number through the majesty of dance. Most productions use ballet dancers to double as the characters during this sequence but the actors at Harvest Rain proved talented enough to perform it themselves. This landmark number is one of the reasons Oklahoma! is so highly regarded, if I didn’t feel it was up to scratch, this review would surely have begun with a few expletives.

The recent success of South Pacific proved that musical theatre classics are still loved yet there hasn’t been a sudden surge of old gems re-appearing on Brisbane stages. Harvest Rain Theatre Company was better known for more modern musicals and even original productions, so their triumph with Oklahoma! demonstrates just how easily classics are able to fit into any company’s repertoire. Think of all the classics us theatre fans are missing out on because theatre companies are trying to appeal to non-musical people by being new and edgy. Come on Companies! I don’t want to wait years to see the likes of Pal Joey or Lady in the Dark!

La Cage Aux Folles

Playhouse Theatre in London


“We face life though it’s sometimes sweet and sometimes bitter. Face life with a little guts and lots of glitter.”

A gay couple’s relationship is tested when their son tries to hide his parent’s sexuality from the ultra-conservative parents of his fiancée. Same plot as the hilarious but unfortunately non-musical film The Birdcage.

One night, in an attempt to achieve some form of domestic bliss, I watched Better Homes And Gardens. In this episode they were demonstrating how easily you can turn your old records into fabulous clocks to hang on the wall of any child’s bedroom. The record in question that they used for this demonstration was an original Australian Cast recording of La Cage Aux Folles. I have never forgiven them. Such is my love of La Cage Aux Folles that I gave up all my hopes of domestic bliss, refusing to watch the show and considered who I could complain to about this blatant disregard for Australian Musical Theatre displayed on Channel Seven. La Cage really is one of those special musicals.

Musical comedies, however well-written, are often considered frivolous and out of touch with modern audiences. Serious musicals such as West Side Story and Cabaret are thought of with an air of sophistication because of their socio-political commentary, the kind of commentary that the humble comedy is thought to lack. La Cage Aux Folles centers on an openly gay couple who have happily raised a child together. While fairly tame by today’s standards, the show opened in 1983 as the world was still struggling through the AIDS epidemic. It is a testament to the team behind La Cage (composer Jerry Herman and book writer Harvey Fierstein) that the musical could still manage to be hugely successful despite the negative connotations that people at that time felt about gay men like the characters (and cast) of the show.

 I personally admire the way the book has been beautifully crafted so that audiences who aren’t so fabulously inclined are able to accept, if not understand, the relationship on-stage. The first romantic song (‘With Anne On My Arm’) is a straight one, sung by son Jean-Michel about his girlfriend. This tune that portrayed a traditional romance is then reprised as ‘With You On My Arm’, a song between two gay men. The couples use the same song because it is the same feelings of love and romance being portrayed. Love is analogous and if you can understand the romance between Jean-Michel and Anne then you can understand the romance between Albain and Georges.

Similarly impressive is the song ‘Look Over There.’ Jean-Michel’s biological father Georges sings it to his son as a reminder that Albain is, for all intents and purposes, Jean-Michel’s mother. While this could have been an opportunity for a politically charged soapbox speech, that just isn’t the style of La Cage. Instead we get a touching description of the many things a parent has done for their child with sentiments so universal that the audience is convinced of Albain’s right as a parent to Jean-Michel.

While there are numbers that rejoice in the campiness of the gay night club setting (complete with drag queens, flashy elaborate costumes, outrageous dancing and witty humour that only gay men can write), the heart of the show is carried by this loving family. When informed that his step-son wishes to hide him from the prospective in-laws, Albain is visibly crushed but says nothing. Seeing the usual drama/drag queen so utterly defeated shows more internal pain that if he were to cry hysterically. Being told to hide himself away like this drives him to sing the musical’s most contentious and most celebrated number ‘I Am What I Am.’

I saw the show in London with Denis Lawson as Georges and Douglas Hodge as Albain. I was very surprised a few years later when Hodge was re-cast as Albain on Broadway, not because he wasn’t brilliant in the role, but because it was a very British interpretation. The characters are all French but in almost every West End show, no one bothers to disguise their awful English accents. Hodge in particular accentuated his until he sounded like British gay comedian Alan Carr. He also added humour by doing impressions of the likes of Marlene Dietrich during the ‘La Cage Aux Folles’ number which I’m not sure if American’s would get. Hodge’s less masculine voice doesn’t make as bold a statement as George Hearn or Anthony Warlow singing ‘I Am What I Am’ but that would contradict with his delightfully playful ‘A Little More Mascarra.’

Sadly the story will always be relevant (thanks for that Tony Abbott) but the recent Broadway revival seems to have figured that as New Yorkers are more progressive, the score could be altered. The effect of the two love songs is ruined by added commentary by Georges in ‘With Anne On My Arm’ and the new words highlight Georges homosexuality for no obvious purpose than to sell Frasier as a gay man.

La Cage obviously means more to me because it deals with a subject close to my heart but this is musical theatre. These audiences are comprised mainly of gay men and fat girls who are friends with gay men. I’m sure many others would feel my seething rage at seeing felt numbers being glued around the edge of a La Cage Aux Folles record, even if they weren’t particularly interested in gay rights, just because they appreciate how fabulous a show it is.

The Top 7 Movies Abut Theatre Life

7. The Band Wagon  (Minnelli 1953)

the band wagon

While countless movie musicals have a plot that can be condensed into the simple ‘let’s put on a show’, The Band Wagon is one of the best and exclusively discusses theatre instead of film (Singin’ in the Rain) or putting on a show in a barn (Babes in Arms). Of course, being a musical comedy, the show will turn out to be a massive hit but there are some troubles along the way. All the off-stage drama comes second only to Vincent Minnelli’s beautiful dance sequences, especially those with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse.

6. The Red Shoes (Powell and Pressburger 1948)

the red shoes

A young woman is torn between the man she loves and a ballet master who can realise her burning ambition to be a prima ballerina, as symbolised by the red shoes she wears. Dancers in real life find the film relatable and it is even referenced in A Chorus Line as inspirational for many of the auditionees growing up. Of course I have to mention that the splendid ballet sequences are choreographed by Australian national treasure: Robert Helpmann.

5. 42nd Street  (Bacon 1933)

42nd street

The greatest elements of the backstage musical take the lead from this Busby Berkley film. The sweet rising star, the creative director who believes in her, the bitchy lead actress who feels threatened by the new-comer and the hard-up producer attempting once last hit show: these characters became classic tropes after this musical. And of course it created the iconic line “You’re going out there a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star!”

4. The Producers  (Brooks 1967) and (Stroman 2005)

the producers

Whether you’re a fan of the original Mel Brooks film or the musical remake, it’s the zany escapades of these characters putting together a Broadway show that produces such a fit of giggles. After discovering a way to make more money with a flop than with a hit, Broadway producer Max Bialystock romances little old ladies for investment money to help make the worst play ever written. Though Max’s business technique provides many laughs, other theatrical characters including playwrights, actors and directors are also hilariously mocked.

3. Black Swan  (Aronofsky 2010)

the black swan

Black Swan takes elements from 42nd Street, The Red Shoes and All About Eve, but the effect is completely different. The film is a psychological thriller, following the usually timid Nina (Natalie Portman) who finds her dark side after taking on the role of Odile (the black swan). Again the ballet scenes are beautiful and correspond with perfectly with Nina’s mindset. Though it tends to be a film you either love or hate, if you’re part of the theatre world you can understand the toil of performing as portrayed in this film.

2. Amadeus  (Forman 1984)


This fictionalised story of rivalry between composers Salieri and Mozart makes for truly great cinema. Though it deals with opera in 18th Century Austria, the desire to create unforgettable art resonates with all forms of theatre and surely all composers have felt that mix of awe and jealous anger at seeing a rival’s masterpiece. The film also gives insight into Mozart’s influences, namely the relationship with his father. Both lead actors ( F. Murray Abraham and Tom Hulce) received Oscar nods for their performances but sound and costume design also won awards, largely due to the amazing opera scenes.

1. All About Eve (Mankiewiczs 1950)

all about eve

Established theatre actress Margo channing (Bette Davis in her most renown role) begins to feel threatened by her young ingénue Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter). Though the film’s moral about the dangerous ambitions could apply to any career, it’s the characters of the theatre world that bring all the wit and humour to this film. George Sanders makes a wonderful theatre critic full of spiteful remarks but Margo has the best dialogue, including the film’s most iconic line: ‘Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!’ demonstrating her theatrical off-stage life.

Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Spectacular

Brisbane Entertainment Centre

“Everything’s alright, yes everything’s fine.”

In the days leading up to *spoiler alert* Jesus’ death, this musical takes a look at the human experiences of his followers, enemies and the superstar himself.

The story of Jesus has entertained people for two thousand years. The musical Jesus Christ Superstar added a contemporary feel that has lasted over 40 years. Frankly, a modern-day revival of Jesus Christ Superstar was more unnecessary than the latest Spiderman reboot. The musical’s great achievement was in humanising the characters of the story, painting Jesus as a social crusader who could be the leader of any group at any time. Other productions have drawn parallels between Jesus and other contemporary leaders before; however, this show took the idea that what happened then could happen now and ran with it faster than Usain Bolt, leaving all subtlety back at the start line. To portray Jesus as the leader of a 99% style protest group, the show had news reports on protests, an actual protest, the disciples pitching up tents, Simon wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt, Molotov cocktails being thrown, Jesus addressing the crowd with a megaphone and activist slogans and posters filling the big screen. It’s an interesting take and certainly applicable but the material is adaptable enough to new approaches without having to constantly hit audience members over the head with every protest group cliché. The production itself demonstrates that the material doesn’t need to be overflowing with contemporary references to make this interpretation work. Caiaphas and the priests are already presented as established authority figures in the score so all it takes is some suits, a boardroom desk and a secretary for the priests to appear as corporate men, the established authority in today’s world.

Apart from providing comic relief, the main purpose of ‘King Herod’s Song’ is to show Pilate’s reluctance to sentence Jesus himself. The song does feel out of place, not just because of its contrasting musical style but because once it is over, Pilate’s scene with Jesus continues as if the song was never there. ‘King Herod’s Song’ has remained in the show because it is a great song with such possibilities, this interpretation being one of the greatest. King Herod is the host of a talk show and Jesus is the topic of the day — is he a lord or is he a fraud? Vote now! Not only does this fit in with the honky tonk style music but it adds contemporary criticism. While it seems incongruous for the son of God to appear on daytime TV, that is how flippantly we handle serious matters today.

Casting Andrew O’Keefe (a well-known TV host) as King Herod adds dimensions to the role but it wasn’t the greatest performance. If King Herald would have let his showman mask down for a moment and showed his true biased opinion on Jesus, or even acted somewhat menacing, it would have been much better. Thankfully there was more impressive Australian talent on-stage. The applaud Jon Stevens received as he stepped into the stage told me there were some hard-core Jesus Christ Superstar fans in the audience who remembered his brilliant performance as Judas in Australia’s 1992 revival. In the smaller role of Pilate, he reminds us why he is so revered.

Tim Minchin playing Judus would have attracted more than a few people to the production yet it wasn’t the desperate kind of stunt casting that led to a Jonas brother playing Marius in Les Miserables. Minchin boasts musical theatre writing credits that assured me he was familiar with the medium and he is an accomplished musician and singer. Oh boy, can Tim Minchin sing: high, low and long notes all in rapid succession. Imagine then, the disappointment in finding out that he couldn’t act correspondingly. His movements weren’t big enough for the stage and none of the character’s inner torment was displayed outwardly or theatrically. I have never seen such a complete lack of stage presence before. The big screen did show signs of distress in his eyes but for the most part Judas’ sole disposition appeared to be grumpy. Even Judas’s big finish ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ doesn’t have any of the energy or showmanship you’d expect from such a performer singing such a song. Other reviews praised his performance so I did wonder if I caught him on an off night (he had just lost out on a Tony Award to Cyndi Lauper of all people) but the recent DVD release confirms his grumpy Judas was a regular thing. I genuinely hope that this performance style was the director’s decision and that Minchin will never again find himself miscast like that again.

The production labels itself as an “Arena Spectacular” and while there are some great stunts, lighting and props, the show does fall short of being a true spectacular event. If you’ve read about the original Broadway production of Jesus Christ Superstar (directed by Tom O’Horgan), you will know that it was critiqued heavily for large symbolic nonsensical staging. If you haven’t read about it, I’ll tell you now it involved a flying bridge made of animal bones, a giant hollowed out dragon’s head, banners of a see-through Jesus doing a headstand and Judas descending from a giant butterfly in a silver lamè bikini. Take that all in for a moment. The arena specular may not be elaborately staged but it never lets the characters or score become buried by gimmicks, in fact much of the spectacularness of it all comes from great performances such as Ben Forster’s ‘Gethsemance.’ Yet still there could have been better use of the talented chorus, huge stage and the big screen which mainly provided backdrop settings, displayed close ups or showed tweets about Jesus.

This production was good but there is yet to be a definitive incarnation of Jesus Christ Superstar. For a story that has lasted so long, it would be silly to think this show won’t age well in the future, but once the whole economy thing gets settled (in a few decades) this production will seem out of date. I would still recommend buying the DVD for the timeless performances and score, if you can stop yourself from picturing Tim Minchin as Judus descending onto the stage in a silver lamè bikini.

Avenue Q

The Playhouse Theatre, QPAC in Brisbane

“I can make you feel special when it sucks to be you.”

Princeton leaves college with a useless degree and struggles with life in the real world, luckily the neighbours in Avenue Q befriend him as they all have similar problems.

Brilliant in its simplicity, Avenue Q takes the format from children’s shows like Sesame Street and uses it to teach twenty something’s important life lessons, like how to come out of the closet or tell if a guy likes you. For a generation who learned their ABC’s from puppets, the parody is particularly fitting and piques the interest of people who don’t usually attend musical theatre. You’ll have heard me complain about shows that are made specifically to bring in non-musical fans (such as Fame) but that’s only because they tend to favour flashy exploits over content. Avenue Q doesn’t rely on the audience’s love of puppets for its humour or heart, the characters are hilarious and touching in all the right places.

As someone who is still trying to figure out what to do with my B.A, the show’s opening is very relatable. Princeton is fresh from college, looking for a purpose in life and trying to scrape by on little funds while still having fun with his friends. Who hasn’t been there? The songs are quite informative on how one should get by during this time in one’s life. We should all remember that doing things for others makes you feel better and when it sucks to be you, at least you’re not Gary Coleman. The only lesson I disagree on is ‘The Internet is for Porn.’ I know the internet is bursting with porn but there are other uses for it, a musical theatre website for example.

Older generations may find the humour incredibly crude but there was fair warning on advertisements that the show would contain full puppet nudity so if that’s not your thing: don’t see it. While people may have giggled the first couple of times a puppet swore, the humour never relies upon the fact that they are puppets being rude. When Kate monster says “normal people don’t just sit at home looking up porn on the internet.” there is a long pause and slow hand to face in disbelief before the reply, “you have no idea.” The actors know how to get laughs from theatre audiences and never fight for attention over the puppets.

Each production of Avenue Q has its own little changes to better suit the time and place. The 2003 Broadway version said not to get depressed because George Bush was “only for now” and this production promised the same of Tony Abbot, which I will hold them to. There are also little additions the actors threw in, ‘If You Were Gay’ the line “what does it matter to be what you do in bed with guys?” comes complete with crude hand gestures to specify what he may do in bed with guys.

Even though I am a big Wicked fan, it’s easy to see why this unique little show scooped up the main awards at The Tony’s that year. Even if musical theatre isn’t your thing, you’ll enjoy this show and as small scale productions are popping up across the globe so you have no excuses not to see it.

Love Never Dies

The Regent Theatre Melbourne

“Coney Isle. Miracle on miracle. Speed and Sound all around.”

10 years after The Phantom of the Opera, Christine is asked to sing at the fantastical Coney Island with her husband Raoul and son Gustave. She soon finds this glittering world belongs to the Phantom who has brought her here in a final bid to win back her love.

Everyone has surely read that the ‘retooled’ production of Love Never Dies in Melbourne is a triumph for Australian Musical Theatre and that Andrew Lloyd Webber is quoted many times in saying “this is one of the finest productions I’ve seen of my work, anywhere.” Promotional items also showed off regarding the 300 costumes and 5,000 light bulbs that would dazzle the audience. Yet I remained unconvinced that the show would be something great. I had over a year ago – with excited frenzy ­­— purchased the Love Never Dies album and my disappointment then was not something I was willing to go through again. The show in London had not been saved by spectacles on-stage because it was teamed up with a lamentable mess of a book.

When Promotional items say this version has been ‘retooled’ they are being polite. They thankfully took an axe to that first act saving us from giving it the nickname ‘Paint Never Dries’ as it received in London. The show is far closer to the original Phantom then I could have hoped. The London production opened with Meg desperately in love with The Phantom and Raoul as an abusive drunk which was very distancing for fans. This show eases the audience into the situation by explaining how they occurred first. Instead of dumping the audience with changed setting, style of music and characters, this show begins with The Phantom singing ‘Till I Hear You Sing’ which acts as a perfect continuation from ‘The Music of the Night’. The only songs that deter from the original style are now the vaudevillian performances by Meg to the crowd at Coney Island. The book has also perfected weaving together the original with the sequel as old lines are echoed in new scenarios — once again “Things have changed, Raoul”.

Coney Island looks entirely the creation of The Phantom: a magician and architect with a flair for the strange and grand. His presence is always felt with masks and skulls in the costumes and scenery, not to mention the return of the symbol playing monkey. You can read the facts about how many costumes and light bulbs there are but the effect of them on-stage are mind blowing, especially when as a fan you can spot the various nods to the original. The sets work well within the chorus numbers but are easily played down for the more dramatic moments.

The book has been carefully crafted and provides an emotional pull equal to the spectacle. Much more explicit in this show is the effect that Christine’s decision will have on her career as a singer, she is choosing between her husband and the man that inspires her voice after all. The pacing does slow in the second act which is entirely built upon the tension of who Christine will choose. If you don’t care for the characters, then this just won’t have the same effect on you as it does a fan.

I would have seen the show in London (had it played long enough) because of the magnificent talents of Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess who have thankfully had their talents recorded and filmed in the 25th anniversary production of  The Phantom of the Opera. Ben Lewis who plays The Phantom in this production does a good job. Just good. It is a difficult role to pull off. Many greats have played the Phantom in various ways, from Warlow’s grand serene Phantom to Crawford’s more fatherly and Karimloo’s hellbent, but this show doesn’t display the emotional complexities of the character that took up so much of the first. Lewis is bound to playing a generic Phantom. He has a powerful yet expressive voice though I was just as pleased with his physicality in the role. The one fault I would give is that Madame Giry couldn’t sing even with the key changed for her but thankfully she didn’t have to sing much.

The production really is a testament to the talents of Australian Musical Theatre and while there is a filmed version on DVD, such a show has a far greater effect seen live at a beautiful theatre.