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Ken Hill's Phantom of the Opera

Written for BBC.co.uk by BBC Nottingham



This might not be the Phantom you think it is but Ken Hill's version of the famous Gaston Leroux novel grabs good reviews wherever it goes.

In the world of musicals say "Phantom of the Opera" and everyone thinks of Andrew Lloyd Webber. But ten years before Sir Lloyd Webber penned his musical Ken Hill wrote his own "Phantom". Although the story is basically the same, the treatment is very different. Daddy promises an aspiring opera singer to send the Angel of Music to her after he dies. Low and behold after he pops his clogs who turns up but a mysterious, golden-voiced, masked being. The promised "Angel" begins to coach the singer and her voice improves dramatically. Meanwhile, the new owners of the Paris Opera House are becoming increasingly annoyed by the activities a certain Opera Ghost going around making demands.

If I told you that this Opera Ghost bore an uncanny resemblance to an Angel of Music would I be giving too much away. Eventually the theatre owners make the connection and are off in pursuit of the phantom - cue more songs, lots of declarations of true love and a nice little bit of self sacrifice. Ken Hill has written Phantom as a musical comedy. The songs may not be household names, but that doesnít diminish from the score too much.

Ken pokes fun at Opera, and in particular Opera as it used to be. And so as not to be outdone by itís more famous younger sibling a few modern changes enable it to poke subtle fun at the Andrew Lloyd Webber version. So don't be put off if you thought you were getting the other one - this Phantom is a funny and moving production, with songs a plenty to get you humming along.