A SHATTERING chandelier, a gondola heading out of the mist, a selfplaying piano, impressive pyrotechnics, ghostly surround sound – and even a disappearing act.

The clever tricks and fireworks lit up this phenomenal show. But it was a spine-tingling performance from both the leads that took it to another level altogether.

Both Southampton’s Earl Carpenter as The Phantom and Katie Hall as Christine bring out the emotion in the lead roles with their powerful voices. They succeed in making the well-trodden tale of the soprano who becomes the obsession of a disfigured musical genius completely believable all over again.

Special mention should also go to principal of the opera, Angela M Caesar, who brings a comic touch to an otherwise dark tale – and particularly the double act of Andy Hockley and Simon Green as the theatre’s baffled owners.

Cameron Mackintosh’s reimagining of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical brings us a world beyond the Paris Opera House we have loved for the past quarter of a century and more.

Cleverly constructed scenery including a set of floating stairs allows the audience to be transported in a moment from the opulence and splendour of the opera house directly to the dark and dismal dungeons in which the Phantom hides away, shamed by his physical appearance and feared by all.

The classic tune strikes up throughout from the superb orchestra and the costumes are exquisite, ranging from the flamboyant creations used in Hannibal to the ornate masks and gowns needed for a Venetian-style masquerade ball.

From start to finish of a production that manages even to top the delightful West End version, the cast, orchestra and crew fully deserve the rapturous reception they are receiving.