The Phantom of the Opera

Date 17th February 2024
Society Shoreline Productions
Venue Shanklin Theatre, Isle of Wight
Type of Production Musical
Director Jeanie Brown
Musical Director Tony Careless/Rosie Hayward
Choreographer Joel Morris/Rosie Sales
Producer Verity McCormIck
Written By Richard Stilgoe/Andrew Lloyd Webber


Author: Christine Blow

Filling the largest theatre on the Isle of Wight and selling out far in advance of opening night, is no mean feat. Shoreline Productions, with their offering of The Phantom of the Opera, even managed to attract people from the mainland. Such was the anticipation of seeing if justice could be done to this iconic show. On a matinee performance on show three of five, the theatre was buzzing with high expectation.

A glossy programme contained full biographies, rehearsal photographs, a brief history of the show, advertisements for other shows, acknowledgements and even a  Phantom quiz. The only item lacking was the NODA logo and strapline.

The set pieces were very large and detailed and enabled the audience to feel totally involved with the setting, whether at the Opera House or outside in the Phantom‘s lair. Use of dry ice, spectacular lighting and amazing pyrotechnics all added to the atmosphere. However, the talent, both on the stage and in the orchestra pit, needed no embellishments. A stellar cast of around forty actors, singers and dancers treated the audience to a spellbinding show, ably assisted by an accomplished conductor in Tony Careless and his extremely versatile orchestra. Sitting two rows behind the orchestra, I was able to witness the variety of instruments utilised and totally appreciated the contribution these talented people made to the success of this show.

Joel Morris ‘Slave Master’ and his Ballet Chorus were mesmerising and how lovely to see not only graceful movements but also smiling faces. Joel, together with Rosie Sales, should also be commended for the excellent choreography maintained throughout the show.

The entire cast should be congratulated as they were all excellent. The superb pairing of Ashleigh Mackness as ‘Christine’ and Steve Jones ‘The Phantom’ was simply perfect. They both made the complex singing look effortless. How Ashleigh hit those high notes, only she would be able to explain. Steve was equally phenomenal, and it was no surprise to read that he has performed with the Welsh National Opera. Their duets surely moved many audience members, including me, to tears. Similarly, duets with Ashleigh and the talented Bertie Everson ‘Raoul’ were tenderly delivered and totally palpable.  Megan West ‘Madame Giry’ was very convincing and maintained great poise and posture throughout. Holly Gardiner gave a standout performance as the diva, ‘Carlotta Giudicelli’. Aside from having a powerful and beautiful voice, both her facial expressions and overall stage presence were excellent.  

One or two of the set changes could have been a bit slicker and the sound quality wasn’t so good in the second half making it difficult, at times, to hear the singers but neither of these factors detracted from the quality of the show.

The show was so entertaining and engrossing that the ending seemed to come far too quickly. The applause was sustained and the standing ovation a testament to the success of this outstanding show. Congratulations to every single person involved in this triumph. The obvious attention to detail and hard work certainly paid off.