Get your skates for a ticket to Phantom

The Phantom of the Opera on Ice, Russian Ice Stars @ Theatre Royal, Norwich

The Phantom of the Opera on Ice, Russian Ice Stars @ Theatre Royal, Norwich


You like ice dancing? You like musicals? You like circus? You like drama? This show had it all.

Scintillating skating was married to first-rate choreography, dazzling acrobatics and a fresh new musical score that had enough power ballads to give Michael Ball laryngitis.

In nine years, the Ice Stars – regular and popular visitors to the Theatre Royal – have got better and better.

The word 'stars' barely does them justice – this 20-strong team have got more than 250 championship medals between them, and we saw the full range of those skills within the comparative confines of the stage.

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The triple salkows, the toe loops, the flips were all there, along with incredible speed generated within a few strokes of their powerful legs – and in the finale, the jump I never expected to see attempted – a triple axel and, for good measure, a somersault.

Gaston Leroux's famous story of the composer, left for dead in a fire by his rival, who overcomes hideous injuries to gain fresh inspiration in the voice of a young diva is faithfully followed, with some rich characterisation from the leading players.

But what makes the show a complete entertainment is the music of Italian composer Roberto Danova and the songs of a team of lyricists led by Tim Duncan, which lead the audience through the action, and their interpretation by singers David Lawrence and Kathy Dooley.

Lawrence in particular was just made for the dramatic ballad, and his delivery was full of emotion and intensity, notably in You'll Be My Destiny and Beneath the Mask, in which he even ventured into a pair of skates.

Dooley was less sure-footed, but Don't Despair proved her best moment.

Of the skaters, Oleg Petrov and Oleg Tataourov were dashing adversaries as Phantom and his rival The Persian, while Olga Pershankova and Maria Bovovikova brought power as well as elegance to their roles of rising star Christine and fallen diva Carlotta.

Alexander and Ekaterina Balokapitov took to the air in the acrobatic flying sequence – there must be easier ways of earning a living than performing circus skills on skates.

But pride of place had to go to Iouri and Svetlana Kouprine who were just fantastic as Mr and Mrs Midnight.

Their characters lit up the stage – Iouri with hidden menace, Svetlana a tiny mischievous elf whose expressive face and spiky all-action skating style were captivating.

They reminded me very much of the Mungo Jerry and Rumpleteaser characters from Cats – and look how they have run and run.

Phantom of the Opera on Ice runs until Saturday – and deserves sell-out crowds in the last week of its 2001 nationwide tour.

t Box office: 01603 630000.