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Thursday, 31 January 2013

Phantom of the Opera- Wales Millennium Centre

Here I am  on our hotel balcony ready for our night out in Cardiff.

Saint David's Hotel and Spa Balcony View
We enjoyed a three course meal for £12.95 and a bottle of wine at Pizza Express. There are so many nice places to eat in Cardiff Bay, it is always difficult to choose, so we usually choose the Restaurant with the best offer on! However, if you have any suggestions of any lovely independent restaurants there, then please let me know as I'd like to try out more local restaurants in the future.

We had a lovely time and would have been quite happy to sit there all night enjoying the fine wine...however I had a date with The Phantom!

We made our way to The Millennium Centre with plenty of time to spare.  We listened to an acoustic act in the foyer. 

Phantom of the Opera Wales Millennium Centre

We're not really into sports cars (a good thing really!), but I  know a few people who would appreciate this picture.

Red BMW MK1 Wales Millennium Centre

Then we headed to one of the many bars!  There are bars on every floor so you can drink in the bar closest to your seats.  Of course we didn't do that!  We went to the first bar we found!  The good thing is you can order your interval drinks at any bar and they will bring the drink to your level.

In my  The Doctor Who Experience at Cardiff Bay post, I wrote about the inscription on  the Millennium Centre.

 "The aim of the inscription was to emphasise and reflect the cultural aspirations of Wales:

Creu Gwir
Fel Gwydr
O Ffwrnais Awen
In These Stones

The Welsh words translate as ’Creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration’."

Well, here are the letters from the inside of WMC.  Beautiful, letter shaped, glass windows.

Wales Millennium Centre quote windows

And here I am!  Peeking out of one of the windows.  I should have taken a photo outside of WMC all lit up in the dark.  It is stunning.  

Wales Millennium Centre Bar Letter Window

The inscription is also reflected in the mirrored bar.  

Millennium Centre Cardiff Bar Inscription

We found the wine to be quite expensive (£3.95) but spirits (double Jack Daniels and coke, £3.50) were very reasonably priced.  Trust me to have expensive taste!

The Phantom of the Opera
We bought our programme and it was time for the show!

I promise I didn't keep my phone on and take these photos during the show.  I took one before the show started and the other during the interval.

Here is the view from our seats.  There are no bad seats at WMC.  You have a good view from wherever you sit.  Therefore, I ordered the "Budget" seats when I booked through Superbreak.  However, we just felt too far away from the stage to truly enjoy the musical.  The seats would be fine if you were watching a band, but next time I will buy the Premium seats if I am booking for a play or musical.

The Chandelier.

The chandelier unveiled in all it's glory.

Phantom of the Opera Chandelier Wales Millennium Centre

Phantom of the Opera is the longest running show on Broadway (at the Majestic Theatre) and one of the longest running shows in the West End (at Her Majesty's Theatre), London (Les Miserables has been running for one more year).     Obviously, with a permanent performance they have the benefits of an amazing set, scenery and special effects.  Could this be recreated on tour?

The touring production was wonderful.  The cast and orchestra were so talented and did themselves proud in every song.  I would be very happy having a Phantom Soundtrack featuring this strong cast.

The show starts off very quietly with the auction scene.  Everyone is anticipating the overtures of the Phantom of the Opera.  Once the orchestra dramatically start, we know the show has begun (and I had butterflies in my belly!).

The scenery changes were seamless and there were so many!  Paul Brown's ingenious new set is as opulent as Maria Bjornson's original design, whilst making it possible to show us much more of the backstage Theatre life at The Opera Paris.

Of course we still have the auction scene, the Opera House and Royal Boxes, Christina's Dressing room and the Phantom's Lair.  However, we also get to see the sub stage, the fly floor, the wings, passageways, labyrinths, rehearsal rooms and offices.  The stairs magically appear out of the wall, and I'm sure they also disappeared again!

I did wonder how they would show the Phantom Lairs as the image of the boat scene is so iconic.  However, using the old trick of smoke and mirrors (not really!) they do pull this off and I felt the Phantom and Christine were in a boat in the Opera's mysterious, underground lakes.

Phantom of the Opera Sets Special Effects Programme

However, something crucial is missing from the tour performance of Phantom of the Opera.  The crashing chandelier scene.

Due to health and safety and the limitation of regional theatres, the chandelier looks incredible, but is sadly restricted to an up and down movement.  No sudden crashing down before the interval.  This confused me greatly, I had anticipated it so much that I kept grabbing Dave's hand each time I expected it to happen!

My favourite parts, as I expected them to be were the musical numbers, "Phantom of the Opera" and "All I ask of you" ( my favourite song from a  musical.  Ever.  Fact.).

I expected Masquerade to be a grander and jollier affair than it appeared to be.  Possibly, it was understated due to a lack of the grand staircase.  I expect this had to be sacrificed to make room for the extra sets.  We can't have everything!

Overall, I loved getting the chance to see Phantom of the Opera on tour in Cardiff.  It is great that these traditionally West End shows reach out to people who may not get to travel to Ye Olde London Town.

 It has given me a taster, however it has not satisfied my hunger, I still need to see the extravaganza for myself in London.  I want the multiple Phantoms, more special effects and most of all the iconic crashing chandelier.  I don't ask for much! 

I will also make sure I get closer seats, so I can connect more with the characters.  I did not believe the connection between the Phantom and Christine, in this production, but I am blaming sitting too far away to feel the love and tension!

Overall it was a great night and a lovely weekend.  I walked out of the show singing my favourite songs and that is always a good thing (for me anyway-not so much for those who have to hear me!).  This "Phan" was very happy!  I would say it was a "phantastic" performance!

The next day we walked from Cardiff Bay to Cardiff Central.  Here are some snaps we took along the way.

Cardiff Bay Balcony Movie Stars

There were some familiar faces on these balconies on the Bay.

Cardiff Bay Balcony Movie Stars

The Millennium Centre.

The Millennium Centre, Cardiff ,Wales

Outside The Millennium Centre.


Ooh, Road Closure for BBC filming!  I wonder what that could be... (yes, I know really!).

Fountains Cardiff


Statues Cardiff

Cardiff Pond ice

Ice, ice baby.  It was very cold!

Cardiff big strong hands installation scupture

Big, strong hands.

Cardiff Church

A Church.

Cardiff Train Station Phantom of the Opera poster
And, look what we found at the train station.  A big, reminder of our lovely night.  It was the highlight of Dave's weekend taking this photo of me in a busy train station with lots of people rushing about to get their trains!

Dave Cardiff Train Station Danger High Voltage sign

See how happy he looks!

Danger!  Danger!  High Voltage!


Now, I'm back to real life!  Being a busy mum of four!

I wonder where our next adventure will be?

Have you seen Phantom of the Opera in London or on tour?

What did you think about it?


1 comment

  1. Saw it years ago and loved it. Well done for taking some time out, sounds great from start to finish!


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