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Gallery: Review - The Phantom of the Opera Youth Group Production, Co-op Juniors Theatre Company, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, to July 18.

PUBLISHED: 10:17 16 July 2015 | UPDATED: 10:17 16 July 2015

The Co-op Juniors Theatre Company stage The Phantom of the Opera Youth Production at Ipswich's New Wolsey Theatre until July 18. Photos: Mike Kwasniak

The Co-op Juniors Theatre Company stage The Phantom of the Opera Youth Production at Ipswich's New Wolsey Theatre until July 18. Photos: Mike Kwasniak

www.mikekwasniak.co.uk

Andrew Lloyd Webber's multiple Olivier and Tony award winning show is a massive undertaking for an amateur group. It's a demanding score full of so many well-known numbers and technically challenging. A few first night hiccoughs aside, the cast thoroughly deserved their standing ovation.

The Co-op Juniors Theatre Company stage The Phantom of the Opera Youth Production at Ipswich's New Wolsey Theatre until July 18. Photos: Mike KwasniakThe Co-op Juniors Theatre Company stage The Phantom of the Opera Youth Production at Ipswich's New Wolsey Theatre until July 18. Photos: Mike Kwasniak

Brooding Phantom (Chris Vince) leaves his lair beneath a Paris opera house to court ingenue Christine (Anna Watson), ensuring she wins key roles by any means necessary. But she falls for its benefactor Raoul (Peter Ling), the Vicomte de Chagny; setting all involved on a dangerous path.

Hats off to director and choreographer Rebecca Darcy and musical director Nigel Virley, tasked with the company’s most ambitious production to date. Perfectly paced, it was dripping with intensity, passion and humour.

The whole thing looked amazing. Oliver Brett’s sumptuous set, loosely based on an actual Paris opera house, was both simple, yet ornately detailed which helped pull you into the characters’ world. Every one of the 200 costumes, hired from a company in Norfolk, were unbelievably lavish. So too were the female cast’s hairstyling and makeup. The Phantom’s make-up, the result of two-hours work before each performance, was worthy of a professional company.

The choreography was impressive, especially during the masquerade sequence; and I loved the way the cast used all of the stage.

All of the principles were very good. The vocals, for the most part, were strong as was the chemistry between them. Congratulations to the extremely hardworking ensemble too.

But, aptly given her role as up and coming starlet, this was Watson’s night. She was exceptional. Falling to the floor at the finale of opening number Think of Me the audience went wild. It was a confident performance from the 18-year-old in every respect, start to finish.

It wasn’t a perfect first night.

Some of the scene transitions could’ve been quicker. On a few occassions the vocals got lost in the music. Forced to compete with the 15-piece orchestra, the company’s largest, some of the cast were pushed outside their comfort zones resulting in some minor pitch issues. I also found some of the cast adopting accents and others not slightly off-putting.

These were minor blemishes on an otherwise great evening.

Go behind the scenes here.

Wayne Savage

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