Three Phantoms (review)

Three Phantoms
Three Phantoms

Being chosen to play Phantom in the world’s most successful musical must be like having all your Christmases come at once.

But what happens to you when the curtain falls for the last time and you take off the mask and make-up?

Well, Three Phantoms is the answer and the name of the show should give you a clue as to what it’s about.

Just starting out on a national tour, Three Phantoms, dropped into Milton Keynes Theatre on Sunday night for a spectacular show.

Actually the name is a bit of a misnomer. Starring alongside Earl Carpenter (MK’s Phantom of choice on the recent tour), Stephen John Davis and Bedfordshire’s own Matthew Cammelle, is a chorus of talent from Phantom, Les Mis and beyond.

They boast that they sing the major songs from 23 West End shows and Carpenter claims that if you’d paid to see them all it would set you back nearly £2,500 a seat (he obviously hasn’t seen the extortionate prices they’re now charging for top London shows).

So this, then, is The West End Musical (Abridged) and it’s a belter. The trio behave like a posh London version of The Rat Pack. There’s an easy camaraderie between them as they introduce each other and share some pretty awful jokes (what do you call a robot who composes music? Android Lloyd Webber - talk about biting the hand that feeds you!).

With a series of anecdotes they reveal what goes on behind the scenes of a now iconic show that has been seen by a worldwide audience of 100m people.

Cammelle, who lives in the tiny village of Gamlingay, admitted once slipping and throwing his leading lady into the stage boat “like a sack of spuds” while Carpenter confessed to getting tongue-tied before giving a speech in front of the boss and former Phantom Michael Crawford.

And, in-between the chatter from three very personable leading men, we had the songs – from Spamalot, Kiss Me Kate, Chicago, South Pacific and all points west. The first half ended in a Les Mis medley when they were joined on stage by opera and musical theatre singing sensation Rebecca Caine – who just about took the roof off.

The finale was, of course, what everyone had been waiting for, but I was devastated that they didn’t sing Phantom’s signature tune. Perhaps it is a copyright issue or ALW stamped his little foot and said no, so, despite a fabulous night of music, I went home disappointed.

Music Of The Night is all well and good but, stamping MY little foot, I expected Phantom from a group of men billed as The Three Phantoms. Finishing on a song from Wicked just didn’t cut the mustard.

Nit-picking aside this really is a flawless and thoroughly entertaining show.

The singers were given superb support from Mandy Watsham Dunstall and Annette Yeo. But the guy who stole everyone’s heart was the phantom Phantom, Alistair Barron, who is playfully bullied throughout by the stars when he comes on dressed like a wannabe lead, before he sneaks in a tremendous rendition of Big Girls Don’t Cry (Jersey Boys).

Three Phantoms return to this area in the autumn when they visit Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre September 20/21. Book your tickets now. Call the box office 0844 871 7677 or go online www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury.

@LBOanne