Nelson Youth Theatre’s production of Phantom sparkles


Author: Judith Ritchie

Published: April 9th 2018

The secret of pulling off a decent musical is all in the art of breathing.  So says Phantom musical director, Ewen Griffiths and judging by the stellar performances of the Youth Theatre cast, he’s done his job well.

Always mindful of giving young performers their moment in the spotlight, director Richard Carruthers has created three major cast teams over 15 performances.

Opening night was Team Sophie, featuring fifteen year old Sophie McCarlie as Christine. For one so young, she surprised with her singing range, at one moment sweet and gentle, and then deeply powerful; quite stunning. Meanwhile the suitably egocentric Carlotta, played by another fifteen year old, Rhiannon Griffiths, who also has a remarkably powerful voice and excellent character presence on stage. 

Christine’s love interest Raoul, played by Seth Blackburn who sang with warmth and tenderness, fitting for his role. The Phantom, a deformed composer who haunts the Paris Opera House of 1910, was played by 29 year old Daniel de Clercq. He sang with depth and passion, drawing us into his world of seduction and despair, eliciting both sympathy and repulsion.

Proper breathing aside, the technical achievements of this production also need mention. With stunning lighting, lavish sets and ambience created by dry ice, a boat floated by in the mist, while candles were cleverly suspended in the air. The gorgeous costumes made the production sparkle and added hugely to the cast’s presence on stage.

The sound was excellent, although there were a few times when the singing was almost shrill and when combined with the music, became a mass of noise. There were also a few scenes where the cast were placed well back on the stage, making it hard to discern features.

But these are small niggles considering the excellent quality of this production. And let’s remember these are young people delivering a musical written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, intended to be sung by adult professionals. 

Get along to a show while you have the chance; it’s pretty special indeed.