The international touring production of “The Phantom of the Opera”, which opened to Manila audiences last February 20, continues to run at The Theatre at Solaire until March 31.
It has been 7 years since the musical last came to Manila. 32 years after it first opened on the West End, the production still continues to resonate with audiences worldwide.
“The bar is set so high,” says Jonathan Roxmouth, who comes back to Manila to play the titular role. “What you see, what you feel, what you hear, honestly, I’ve done quite a few shows now, I’ve yet to see a musical do what the show does to an audience. It’s on its own level.”
“It doesn’t really matter where you’re from. It’s a story rooted in love,” shares Meghan Picerno, who plays Christine Daaé. “There are just such universal, human emotions within the fiber of the story. And then of course, you have the beautiful melodies and orchestrations of Andrew Lloyd Webber. I mean nothing can compare to that overture. And of course, the costumes. I’m wearing art on stage. It’s just magical.”
Both Roxmouth and Picerno are not new to the characters. Roxmouth played the role during the touring production at the CCP in 2012, while Picerno played the role of Christine in “Love Never Dies”, the sequel to “The Phantom of the Opera”, in its US Premiere and its First National Tour.
“I have a lot more confidence now,” shares Roxmouth, when asked if there was a change in his attack on the role in 2019. “I’m not a fan of change for change sake. That’s very dangerous because I like to trust that what I found back then still rings true. Certain things may have changed here and there, my hair’s shorter, (laughs) but the rest of it, it’s the same effect. The music is so clear in its inspiration for me. The minute it starts, it just happens. I never get in the way of that.”
When asked if Picerno’s experience playing the older version of Christine in the sequel helped her in creating her Christine for ‘Phantom’, “Yes and no,” she says. “In one sense, yes, because I’ve been living her future for the last year and a half and as a performer, I created a backstory. Now, I am living the beginning of it all, so in that sense, yes. And it’s so exciting to know where she ends up. That being said, I do, though, have to remember that the time that ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ was written, ‘Love Never Dies’ was not. So at the same time, I have to separate the two because my future self as Christine actually can’t influence the past self of Christine because she wouldn’t know that that’s where she ends up.”
“It’s very important to remember that there’s a difference playing my 28-year old self in ‘Love Never Dies’ as opposed to my 18-year old self here,” she adds. “In my life too. I’m not the same as I was when I was 18, thank goodness. (laughs) But part of that is the excitement. Christine in ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ is experiencing everything for the first time. She’s in Paris, and the death of her father has not been that far off. It’s the first time she’s ever meeting the Phantom. She doesn’t know what’s coming. In ‘Love Never Dies’, she’s a little bit more refined. She’s been through ‘Phantom of the Opera’, and that’s not a memory that she’ll forget. But I do love that. Very, very few of us have had the great pleasure and honor to do both younger and older versions of Christine. As an actor, I can tell you that it’s very exciting, because this is where it all started.”
“The Phantom of the Opera” is also currently running in London, New York, Budapest, and on tour in the US.
You can watch excerpts of “The Phantom of the Opera”, “Prima Donna”, “All I Ask of You”, and “Masquerade” in the video below.