Just returned to my hotel room after seeing this tonight at Birmingham. Katie Hall was off, but I thought Olivia Brereton did a great job as Christine. Her "Wishing you were somehow here again" was my highlight of the show. Hopefully she'll get to play that part in the West End (or any other role...) I was a bit indecisive about Earl Carpenter - he was just OK in the first act, but much stronger in the second act. Neither did I like his "Music of the Night" that much. But perhaps I was just expecting too much after reading some reviews... Simon Bailey was also good, but sometimes looked a bit too young to actually be a Viscount.
The show began approx.10 min late and quite suddenly as no "welcome, turn your phones off, recording is the most evil thing (only second to wearing white shoes after labour day
)" speech was played. The Hippodrome is a really nice theatre, great view from my Stalls row G centre seat, quite comfy seats and - even more important - enough leg room.
I absolutely loved the new set and staging. The way down to the Phantom's hideout with the stairs moving out of the wall and the Phantom's actual hideout was pretty impressive (even more when you think it's a touring production). Also loved the chandelier effect at the end of act 1 - sat more or less right under it. Even though the last time I saw Phantom was roughly 2.5 years ago in the West End, I actually preferred the touring set to the West End one.