|James Penniston as Raoul & India Shaw-Smith as Christine|
Vivo D'Arte never ceases to amaze me with the skill and incredible talent of its young performers - their production of The Phantom of the Opera is no exception. From start to finish they gave everything the Youth Company promises: passion, commitment and excellence.
|George Watkins as the Phantom|
It was quite something to have got the rights to perform one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's most successful musicals and I was really knocked off my seat with this production, almost forgetting at times that no one in the cast was older than 19.
|Hayley White as Carlotta|
Young director Dan Cowtan who trained in voice at the Royal Northern is also the vocal coach for many of the cast. Dan's experience and directing skill really brought out the best in this young cast. His excellent teaching has helped some of them gain prize places at many of the country's top drama and music schools including Richard Edwards (acting at Italia Conte), George Watkins (voice at Guildhall) and James Penniston (voice at the Royal Northern).
The incredible depth of emotion portrayed by the cast in this compelling musical drama was breathtaking.
George Watkins, who played the title role of Phantom has a rich powerful voice, and created a character that we were able to pity and despise simultaneously. James Penniston was a joy to watch as Raoul, with his tender soaring voice. He gave a profound gravitas to Raoul in his interpretation which showed a sensitivity way beyond his years. Beautiful India Shaw-Smith was stunning as Christine and I was amazed by her fabulous voice. Sara Lawrence gave us a brilliantly austere Madame Giry and Hayley White's comic Carlotta was absolutely on point.
|Sara Lawrence as Madame Giry|
There was some fantastic comic timing in performances by Freddie Clarke, Richard Edwards and Alfie Glasser and a lovely cameo from Pippa Taylor in her Meg Giry. The corps de ballet from the Espinosa Dance Project lent a really professional framework to the production under Yat-Sen Chang's choreographic guidance. Fiona Quilter-Wood's choreography for the rest of the cast was inspired!
The work that had gone into the production was incredible, the costumes, set, lighting and the rousing band. From the littlest member of the chorus, everyone gave their all to this stupendous production of Phantom - a show I shall never forget. Well done Vivo d'Arte!!
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