With all today’s press hubbub about Love Never Dies (read our review, Mark Shenton’s roundup and listen to the podcast discussing the show and its critical reception) we thought it would be interesting to see what The Stage said about The Phantom of the Opera, when it opened at Her Majesty’s Theatre in 1986. It was reviewed by the paper’s editor, Peter Hepple, who said:
WITH The Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber at last has found himself the excuse to write the kind of music he seems to like best, the lushly romantic operatic style which has surfaced briefly in one or two of his other pieces. It is a far cry from Jesus Christ Superstar…
This is a lavish throwback to musical melodrama… Unfortunately, from the viewpoint of suspense it does not stand up to the film versions, though it may be more true to Gaston Leroux’s original novel…
The only concern is how and when he will be caught, and one had the feeling that when it happens, after more than two hours… it is not a moment too soon. The fizz has gone out of the plot long before.
…Andrew Lloyd Webber, never one to let a good tune slip out of his hands, concentrates on two or three leitmotivs, with All I Ask of You emerging as what is likely to be the hit song, in as much as one can imagine it being rendered in soul fashion by a pair of black American singers… John Savident and David Firth, as the harassed managers, inject the only comedy in a show which could do with one or two more lighter moments.
To read the full review, see the image below:
If you’re interested in the history of The Stage, our archive from the very first issue in February 1880 right into the 21st century is now available online at http://archive.thestage.co.uk, with access prices starting at £5.00 for 24 hours.