What it takes to star in ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ in Dubai

“The Phantom of the Opera” has made its UAE debut at the Dubai Opera. (Supplied)
Updated 22 October 2019

What it takes to star in ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ in Dubai

DUBAI: Dubbed the world’s most popular musical, “The Phantom of the Opera” has made its UAE debut at the Dubai Opera, but not before the cast and crew shared their take on the world-renowned play. 

Brought to the region for the very first time by Broadway Entertainment Group, in partnership with Dubai Opera, the Andrew Lloyd Webber production will run until Nov. 9 and promises a spectacular visual and auditory experience for musical theater fans.

Based on French author Gaston Leroux’s classic novel, British composer Webber’s romantic musical is now in its 33rd year and is the longest-running show on Broadway. Worldwide, more than 140 million people have seen “The Phantom of the Opera” in 37 countries, 172 cities, and in 16 languages.




The probes, sound, lights and costumes were all shipped from the US in 20 containers. (Supplied)

“For an evening out, for people that see musicals every day or for the first person that’s ever come to see a musical, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ has everything that you would want in a production,” Liz Koops, the chief executive officer of Broadway Entertainment Group, told Arab News.

The latest edition of the musical, which has cost more than $10 million (SR37.5 million), has “brand new physical production,” such as the chandelier and 380 costumes. The probes, sound, lights and costumes were all shipped from the US in 20 containers. 

“If you were to see this show in New York city, Broadway or in the West End, when you walked into the theater it would look exactly like this,” the musical’s executive producer said.




The latest edition of the musical has cost more than $10 million. (Supplied)

The tour, which started in Manila, is expected to be on the road for at least 10 years. The orchestra has 10 UAE-based musicians who are part of the Dubai performance.

“With this orchestra, we are very grateful to have musicians who play it well but also play it with their hearts,” said David Rogers, the show’s music director and conductor. “The goal is not perfection by any means, the goal is music. The goal is art.

“It is very encouraging when at the end of the show … there are 50 or 100, 200 people that come down to the pit rail just to listen to the orchestra play all the famous melodies from the show one more time,” he added.




The tour, which started in Manila, is expected to be on the road for at least 10 years. (Supplied)

Claire Lyon, who portrays the female protagonist Christine Daaé, said stamina is the toughest part of her role. “It is very vocally demanding (and) physically demanding for all three of us. Having to pace yourself throughout the whole week and knowing when to rest, when to push yourself back and training yourself like an athlete (is a challenge),” she said.  

Despite having performed as the Phantom dozens of times, Jonathan Roxmouth still discovers new aspects of his character.

“I still prepare for (this character). I don’t think you ever fully prepare for a role like ‘The Phantom of the Opera’… I am still finding things,” Roxmouth explained. 




Matt Leisy, in his first tour, plays the role of Raoul De Chagny who falls in love with Christine. (Supplied)

It takes the team more than an hour to get Roxmouth’s makeup ready for the musical. “There is no other show I would do this for… It is my dream role,” he said. 

Matt Leisy, in his first tour, plays the role of Raoul De Chagny who falls in love with Christine. “It is such an honor to be the first actor to play this role for an audience (in the UAE).

“We all bring different essences and energies to these roles. So I like to think that mine is just a little different, and that helps tell the story,” he said.


‘Rome chose me,’ says Saudi artist on breakthrough Italian exhibition

Updated 45 min 44 sec ago

‘Rome chose me,’ says Saudi artist on breakthrough Italian exhibition

  • “Rome chose me and not vice versa. This idea wants to be a bridge between cultures,” Fahad told Arab News
  • He could not be in Rome for the opening of the exhibition, which is open to visitors until Dec. 10

ROME: Saudi artist Sultan bin Fahad has chosen Rhinoceros, an art gallery in Rome’s historic heart, for his first solo show.
The exhibition, “Frequency,” is staged in a 15th-century building recently renovated by French architect Jean Nouvel, and includes six installations featuring light, incense, shadows, music and sounds. Each piece describes a spiritual journey to modernity through many cultures, but one that is firmly linked to Islam.
“Rome chose me and not vice versa. This idea wants to be a bridge between cultures,” Fahad told Arab News from Los Angeles, where he lives. He could not be in Rome for the opening of the exhibition, which is open to visitors until Dec. 10.
“Each of my creations is specific. I wanted to tell a concept that was understood and expressed by the surrounding place,” the artist said. Over the years he collected precious antique pieces from Makkah and Madinah which he found all over the world, including some metallic pieces which had gone missing in 1979. He shot videos and recorded sounds, and used everything in the artwork that describes what he sees as the human journey toward a sacred temple of feelings.
The exhibition includes “Been There,” a piece with four ancient stones inscribed in Arabic interacting with a large plate of luminescent glass. Then comes “If Stone Could Speak,” with white marble works from Makkah. A video is projected showing men and women gathered in prayer.
Another work, “Possession,” shows an image of the hands of men and women trying to get closer to an elusive God, trying to touch the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
“I filmed those people and I was interested to understand why they were doing those gestures. They were trying to reach the divine. I thought it was moving,” Fahad said.
“The Verse of The Throne” contains a projection of a verse from the Holy Qur’an in front of six bowls, with water serving as an element of purification. Then comes “The White Noise,” represented in two immersive rooms, associated by the artist with the prayers of Makkah pilgrims.
Fahad said the exhibition looks to “involve all the senses to create a real experience, going beyond a visual experience for the visitor.”
In this sense, his works represent the place where anthropological concepts were born and became infused by Greek, Latin and Eastern cultures.
In fact, in the Arabian Gulf, humans once measured their existence through the loss of their relatives, creating a cult of the dead, which is reflected in Fahad’s work.
The artist is waiting to see what the future has in store. “I have no plans so far. I am so happy that I could produce something in 2020 due the the difficult time the entire world is experiencing. Let us hope that the situation will evolve for the better,” he said.