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The Phantom Of The Opera, Shaftesbury Theatre

January 12th 1992. Pg 6.7
Written for The Sunday Times (London)

Ken Hill's musical Phantom of the Opera (Shatesbury) is advertised as The Original Stage Musical because it was written before Andrew Lloyd Webber's and, who knows, may have put the idea of the show into the great man's head. But Lloyd Webber's concept is big, lyrical and operatic, whereas this is essentially a small, intimate, cheeky show which is a little ill at ease in this huge house. Its style, of disrespectful spoof, and its cocky little wisecracks ("I can feel a draught." - "It's nothing to do with me, dear.") and wonderful, dog-eared old jokes betray its jolly Theatre Royal Stratford East origins. But don't let that put you off. The chandelier scene is both scarier and wittier than at Her Majesty's and this one has Peter Straker as The Phantom - though we don't hear nearly enough of that extraordinary smoky tenor voice.