Phantom Las Vegas: 4 September 2006 - The Double Dip Edition

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Phantom Las Vegas: 4 September 2006 - The Double Dip Edition

Post  Raphael on Sun Nov 29, 2009 11:37 pm

Since it looks like Phansonline has permanently bit the big one, I thought it might be a good idea to re-post some of the old reviews for archival purposes. Here's the first one...

Review: Phantom Las Vegas: The Double Dip Edition - 4 Sept 2006

(Warning: The following is an extensive and extremely long-winded review of the September 4th performances of "Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular." It is recommended that interested parties have a supply of water and food rations readily available before proceeding to read this review.)

I’m finally back from a week-long road trip from California all the way to Arizona. But despite witnessing the natural beauty of sunset at the Grand Canyon and the man-made wonders of the Hoover Dam, the highlight of the entire trip for me was attending back-to-back performances of “Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular.”

And it definitely lives up to its name.

Considering all the talk of trimming down the show to 95 minutes, I went into the Phantom Theatre tempted to refer to the production as “Phantom: The Cliff Notes Version.” But now having seen the show and all the changes made (both large and small), I rather think of it as another animal entirely. The production has been running long enough that most if not all fans are aware of the trims made to accommodate the shorter running time, but I was unprepared for the alterations made to the score or how some of the aforementioned changes would affect some characters. I’ll address these issues as they arise in my reviews, as well as center each review on certain pairs of lead characters.

But first, taking a cue from previous visitors, I did all my shopping at the Boutique during off-hours; picking up some souvenir programmes for myself and friends, a pair of cufflinks, a polo shirt and (on a second visit) the Phantom/Christine music box. I even toyed with the idea of getting a corset and playing Prince Charming in search of my Cinderella who would fit (and look *really* good in) it. I also met up with Joseph before the show who filled me in on a few things about the theatre before we were officially let in.

The 7pm review will cover the Boggess/Gleason dynamic since I felt that it was one of the stronger ones I’ve seen in a long time. The Phantom of both performances, Anthony Crivello, will be reviewed in my 10pm review with Elizabeth Loyacano. Comments about other actors will appear in both reviews as appropriate.

7pm - Crivello/Boggess/Gleason/Batman

My first impression of the auditorium was that it was familiar, yet different (probably had something to do with the flying saucers hanging over the orchestra section). The parterre proved to be an ideal spot to take in everything, the overhang of the balcony only obscuring a small portion of the view of the dome. It’s also level with the center of the stage, height-wise, allowing for an unobstructed view of everything happening onstage.

Prologue - Sometimes, a long history and familiarity with a show can be a problem, taking you out of the experience as you recognize some gaffe, glitch, or change in staging. This first made itself known to me with the very first line of the show when I thought to myself, “Hey, that’s Michael Lackey!” without having read the cast notes first. It occurred to me once again with the first trim of a lead character’s dialogue (Old Raoul). It would prove an annoying recurrence, but thankfully it lessened significantly about halfway through the first show.

Overture - It was surely the loudest one I’ve heard, and my first taste of the newly updated score. With a more rock edge, the Overture reminds me somewhat of the Phantom Overture from Sarah Brightman’s Harem tour. Some of you who know me are aware that I’m something of a traditionalist and don’t care for electric guitars in a story set in the 1880s, however I’m also not against it outside the context of the show. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s Las Vegas, but the new Overture felt “right” here. It was bigger and bolder, matching the spectacular reassembly of the chandelier itself (love the blue rays of light streaming down from the dome) and the restoration of the auditorium to its former glory. I even thought that the minor addition of the two stagehands raising the backdrops was an inspired move that breathed fresh air into the show.

Hannibal - The show surges forward like a locomotive and it was very apparent in this scene with all its trims. There appeared to be a tendency for actors to run over each other’s dialogue but for characters like Firmin, this actually enhanced his curt, disinterested attitude. Most Firmins are portrayed as the money side of the duo, but while most push it to the point of grumpy old man, Lawson Skala’s Firmin is a more even-handed interpretation, I thought: stoic, business-like with his comedic moments delivered in a dry manner. And speaking of which, I felt that Elena Jeanne Batman’s Carlotta was played rather straight as well, without the over-the-top histrionics that have become a staple for the character. In a way, she reminded me of Rosemary Ashe from the OLC. But while I adore more grounded portrayals, it is an interesting dilemma since Carlotta allows for more extreme interpretations without turning into a gross caricature while similar acting choices with Firmin can quickly turn him into a money-grubbing fuddy-duddy. But enough of my tangent. Back to the scene.

The multiple trims kept pulling me out of the scene, and I do miss the full Hannibal ballet sequence. The changes did keep me on my toes, though, and it was at that point that I chose to pull out my opera glasses and get a better look at the action. Unfortunately, as I panned across the ballerinas as they went through the new choreography, my first good look at Brianne turned out to be when the ballerinas strike their “lift and separate” pose.

Oops. Talk about your first impressions.

The scene sped along and things like the stagehands in the elephant got lost in the shuffle (I actually don’t even remember seeing it being wheeled offstage until my second viewing) as I struggled to keep up with the exposition. But bits like Skala’s disapproving stares and Rebecca Spencer’s almost flamenco-like flourish when she reveals the first of the Phantom’s notes made up for it.

Think of Me - My immediate impression of Sierra Boggess’ Christine was that she seemed very much the ingénue. Her voice was light and pure and in terms of acting, she seemed very much the innocent. Oh, and very pretty, to be sure.

I noticed the transition from rehearsal to gala night was staged a little differently, as well as what I thought to be a new ToM lyric variation “Think of August when the *world* was green.” Anyone know if this is exclusive to the LV production or did I miss a newsletter at some point?

The new, fully-functional opera boxes were a nice addition (always thought the ones that slid out onstage seemed out of place) and it was while admiring the new portions of the set that I saw an interesting bit of business from Tim Martin Gleason - while Christine is onstage performing, he borrows Mme Firmin’s opera glasses to get a better look. I don’t recall any of the Raouls I’ve seen in the past do this, but I thought it was a nice touch. I meant to check to see f he’d do it again during the 10pm show, but I’ll explain why I forgot to do so in that review,

Angel of Music - This was Brianne’s first official number, and I can safely say that I haven’t encountered a more adorable Meg. With a sweet voice and the impression of being a sincere friend to Christine, you can’t help but want to wrap your arms around her and squeeze her like a big ol’ roll of Charmin.

Little Lotte - In Boggess and Gleason’s first scene together, they proved to have very good chemistry, as if long lost friends finally reunited. It was also in this scene that another aspect of Boggess’s Christine was revealed; as aspect perfectly described by Sylvia Rhyne when she said “Christine (…) is always at the absolute peak of whatever emotion she is feeling.” When Raoul suggests supper, you can hear the anxiety rise in Boggess’ response. And after he leaves, the alarmed cry most Christines deliver is almost shrill with terror of the consequences of disobedience.

PotO - Again, the score shows an obvious update with the more rock edge to the title song. In this case, it sounded remarkably like the Harley/Brightman version. I also think I heard the infamous offstage voices as a female voice whispering the lines from the rear of the auditorium, but I could be mistaken. The enhanced set was very nice with the added arches and the mirror that extended the candles further back.

MotN - In this scene, Boggess seemed like a throwback to the early days of PotO, portraying Christine in a serene manner, her only significant reaction being that which you see in the PLV promotional commercial. The new mirror bride effect was interesting, but I can’t help but think of it now as the “chestburster” mirror bride since the effect reminded me of those creepy creature from the “Alien” movies.

Notes I/Prima Donna - The first thing that popped into my head when this scene began was “Dude! You’ve got a door!” (What can I say? Little things make me happy.). Skala and John Leslie Wolfe as Andre play the managers pretty straight, yet still with humor. Skala’s grammatical correction a sort of “Argh! Dammit, I did it again!” manner that I thought original and amusing.

The trims here I thought were less intrusive, and the bit where Carlotta hands Andre her parasol as if to say, “Here, hold this so I can sob more efficiently” was quite nice.

Il Muto - I was so enjoying watching Boggess bouncing her legs against the bed in a cute, child-like way that I didn’t notice the set now filled the entire stage. I rather missed Don Attilio’s signature moment, but I begrudgingly admit that probably took a good chunk out of the original running time (depending on which actor is playing Attilio, that is). The new staging was nice, with the stunt Phantom hanging out of the chandelier practically at my eye level. But most impressive was the hanging of Buquet in full view of the audience (particularly the casualness the Phantom displayed as he let go of the rope and left the stage).

All I Ask of You - The newly fleshed-out Opera roof looked great (I’ve always been a bit disappointed in the previous productions’ rooftop sets). Here again, Boggess and Gleason show great chemistry together and sing the love duet beautifully. One funny moment that stood out was the second kiss - Boggess practically lunges in when she initiates it, so much so that I half-expected them to go tumbling to the ground. Again, a display of Christine at the peak of the emotion of the moment. I’d speculate further, but this is the family hour Wink

Segue - The lightning and fireworks was very effective as the transition to the masquerade ball. The miniature opera house looked great, too.

Masquerade - With the managers’ meeting at the far right of the auditorium just under the boxes, I thought Andre’s skeleton costume couldn’t be seen as well by the audience, resulting in less laughter than I’m used to hearing when he shows his bones off. My mind was quickly distracted by the giant Manolo Blahnik onstage, which eventually turned out to be the staircase. Nice, colorful costumes that seemed a little glitzier than normal, but that may just be due to the fact that they’re so new. Being a Christine fan, I missed the inclusion of her dance number but its loss didn’t diminish the scene.

Giry’s Tale/Notes II - This severely compressed scene really stood out, not because of the inter-activeness of the characters walking around the front rows, but because it was the one scene that had the most modifications. It did have its pros and cons, however. The swiftness that Raoul comes up with his plan made him appear stronger than in the original version but the removal of the Phantom’s voice-over diminishes his distaste for Carlotta and subsequently her connection to the action.

Wishing - Maybe I’m in the minority, but going from Notes II to the graveyard always made more sense plot-wise than doing the DJT rehearsal in-between. Therefore, omitting the rehearsal didn’t faze me at all. Boggess had a great earnestness in her vocals for this song that made the truncated version effective despite the trimmed lyrics. Gleason, in his confrontation with the Phantom, also displayed a great deal more manly heroism in protecting Christine than I had seen him show in previous performances.

Before the Premiere - The condensed version worked perfectly fine here, as did King Kong!Phantom hanging off the proscenium arch. I also liked the lighting effect of the “curtain” rising for DJT. The change did make it feel like PoNR was the first scene of the opera rather than the climax, however.

Don Juan Triumphant/PoNR - PoNR will be covered extensively in the next review, but here I’ll just note that Meg’s flirty little kick to Piangi was a great addition to the Passarino-teasing exit that has become a standard in the scene. Boggess’ Christine seemed a bit more subdued in this number until she realized the Phantom was under the hood. I like the police racing onstage (something I don’t recall happening in other productions), and the chandelier drop was definitely free-fall. I wish I’d had a set underneath it just so I could experience that!

Final Lair - Something struck me as rather odd when Gleason crawled out of the lake and took his place on the other side of the portcullis. The appropriate amount of desperation and concern are in his voice, but… How to describe it… he’s standing there with his face poking through the portcullis like all Raouls do in the scene. But his legs are together and he’s just kind of leaning casually to one side. “Hi, ho neighbor. Mind if I come in to rescue my girlfriend?” It just felt kind of strange, is all I’m saying. But this awkward moment was completely redeemed in Gleason’s reaction during the kiss. Trapped in his torture chamber for one, you can really feel the pain and helplessness the character is experiencing seeing the woman he loves kiss another man. Bravo!

It was a pretty packed audience for the 7pm show, but a well-behaved and responsive one. Sierra Boggess, Tim Martin Gleason, Elena Jeanne Batman and the rest of the cast were well deserving of the standing ovation they received!

Post Show Wrap-up - Having done the stage-door experience a number of times, it was pretty strange standing around the lobby trying to keep an eye on three potential exits the actors might use between shows. Also rather strange to be the only blatant autograph-seeker in the crowd. I met Brianne, who very kindly signed my programme and posed for a snapshot (Lord only knows if it came out. I’m not all that good at taking pics when I’m also one of the people in the shot). Between shows is the dinner break for the actors, so I didn’t want to cut into her time too much, it being a long day for her and so forth. I thought I spotted Larry Wayne Morbitt passing through the lobby, but I wasn’t quite sure so I didn’t stop him. No Sierra or Elena, though. If they did exit the theatre, I didn’t recognize them. I just remember hoping I’d have better luck after the 10pm show.

Okay, that’s it for this portion of the review. Next up will be the Crivello/Loyacano review of the 10pm show and all the hi-jinks afterwards.

R.

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Raphael

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Re: Phantom Las Vegas: 4 September 2006 - The Double Dip Edition

Post  Raphael on Sun Nov 29, 2009 11:39 pm

10pm - Crivello/Loyacano/Gleason/Jeffries Mattox

Joseph had told me that the 10pm show would have a thinner crowd. Thankfully, I was sitting in the front row so I couldn’t really tell. Seeing a half-empty theatre always gets me disappointed right off the bat.

Upon entering the theatre, the ushers were very friendly; apparently a couple of them knew I had been attended the previous performance that night.

In another amusing aside, I found out firsthand how strict the management is in regards to recording imagery inside the theatre. As I have on past occasions, I bring my sketchbook with me when I go to PotO. Before both performances that night, I sketched the auditorium from my seat to keep my skills sharp (all those folds in the prologue drapery really force you to concentrate on details) and to take notes on sets and costumes for future reference. Anyway, one of the ushers (Linda, I believe her name was) came up to me about five minutes to curtain and apologetically told me that she had been informed that even *sketching* the auditorium was prohibited and she would have to take any drawings I had made. So I handed the one I was working on and the one from 7pm, that no one had called me on, too - it’s not like they were very good anyway Smile After the show, while I was waiting in the lobby for some of the actors, another usher walked up to me and apologized again about having to take my sketches, saying that she was glad that I was so understanding. Personally, I thought the entire situation really amusing.

Okay, on with the review.

Overture - Sure enough, those sitting up front have to crane their necks around to see the reassembly of the chandelier. Pretty cool to see it from that angle, but I think I prefer the view I had before.

Hannibal - This is the whole reason I enjoy sitting up close: I get to see so much more detail in the performances. Geena Jeffries Mattox opened the scene with the same comedic beats I remember from her days with the long-run San Francisco production - absolute classic Carlotta. Larry Wayne Morbitt’s Piangi is also as wonderful as I remember him being on Broadway several years back, his equally comedic take pairing perfectly with Jeffries-Mattox’s Carlotta. This second time around, I also got a better look at little bits of business here and there away from the main action such as Skala silencing Brianne and her fellow ballerina’s whispering and giggling during Carlotta’s private rendition of ToM, and the nasty glare Brianne gives Ted Keegan’s Reyer when he gives Elizabeth Loyacano’s Christine only that brief glance at the libretto and the “Eh, whatever” shrug he replies with. And while I’m commenting on little details, does anyone else think that the ballerinas’ original extended leg pose at the end of the Hannibal number looked more elegant than the new version?

Think of Me - What can I say about Elizabeth Loyacano? Her Christine seems a more mature one than that of Sierra Boggess’ and there is a clear path of development from the beginning of the show to the end. This detailed performance makes it hard to take your eyes off her when she’s onstage, despite whoever else is there with her. Vocally, she reminded me a little of Teri Bibb with shades of the underlying power of Lisa Vroman. Most definitely a voice that draws attention to itself, and it’s only enhanced by her acting. Towards the end of the first verse, just prior to the transformation to Gala night, you can see Christine’s eyes light up, realizing that she can really do this, that she can really sing this role. It’s these little nuances to the performance that keep you riveted, eager to see what she’ll do next. And it’s the reason I didn’t look up to check if Tim Martin Gleason did his opera glasses thing again - I just couldn’t keep my eyes off Loyacano.

Angel of Music - Brianne’s pouty delivery of “Always rehearsals…” coupled with an equally pouty walk was a real gem here.

Little Lotte/The Mirror - Loyacano’s Christine ran the gamut of emotions in this scene, going from uncertainty to joy with Raoul to timid, obedient student of the Angel of Music. Her performance was more restrained than Boggess,’ but that did not diminish the potency of the emotions running through her character.

Now we come to Anthony Crivello’s Phantom. His voice is a commanding one, full of power and self-control. His reveal in the mirror was a great one, and the lighting giving the planes of his face a stone-like, chiseled look. To me, Crivello’s Phantom was an aged one, kin to the Phantoms early in the stage show’s run. That alone had me taking an immediate liking to this interpretation. The mirror effect was intriguing, with the mist pouring in from the sides of the mirror, masking Christine’s walk through the mirror. The only quibble I had with it was that it would have had a better effect if the mist had dissipated more when Raoul entered the room. As it was, it just looked like Christine had been featured in an anti-drug commercial (“Later, Angel. I’ll get a job next week…”).

Phantom of the Opera - Loyacano’s vocals in the first verse again remind me of Vroman, in that there is a silkiness to Loyacano’s voice as compared to Vroman’s - for lack of a more appropriate word - sultriness (or for the Coffee Talk crowd, it’s “like buttah”). It’s a good compliment to the strength in Crivello’s vocals here. The inherent benefits of the front row made the lake transformation quite immersive since my eye level was aligned with the surface of the stage, essentially giving the impression that you’re seeing things from the water’s surface. Loyacano’s Christine seems fully aware of her surroundings yet under complete control of the Phantom. Her body is more animated than most other Christines I’ve seen previously, and her final high note is delivered with an orgasmic physicality not unlike Rebecca Caine’s in the Toronto PotO promotional video - and the shock of that sensation is registered on her face as the note fades into the air.

Music of the Night - If I had to make a comparison, I’d say that Crivello’s Phantom is Crawford with less romanticism - that void filled with Brad Little or John-Owen Jones’ commanding presence instead. This Phantom is always in control, always dominating, yet soothing at the same time in this scene. Loyacano’s Christine is at turns afraid and enthralled as she embodies the lyric she will later sing in the rooftop duet:

“… his voice filled my spirit with a strange sweet sound… / In that night there was music in my mind… / And through music my soul began to soar! / And I heard as I’d never heard before…”

Through her movements, you can really see the Phantom’s voice affecting her throughout the entire song. The only point in the scene that I thought Loyacano’s acting might have been a little too much was when they enter into the signature MotN pose. As the Phantom’s arm is slowly coming around, Christine has a wide-eyed, open-mouthed “OMGOMGOMGHE’SGOINGTOTOUCHME!!!!!!” expression that switches straight into a swoon as they hit the pose. I dunno, it just felt a little bit over the top to me. But then again, it’s at least a reaction of some sort, so in that respect I appreciate it.

Stranger - Maybe it’s just me, but whenever this scene starts and the monkey music box starts playing, I always expect Christine to roll over, slap it on the head to shut it off and then roll over and go back to sleep.

Christines vary in their approach to the removal of the mask. I’ve seen curious, playful, etc. Loyacano’s seems straight out of Leroux when she literally tears the mask off his face. Crivello shows the appropriate rage in response and the scene climaxes with Loyacano collapsing to the floor hyperventilating and looking completely terrified (no mean feat considering there’s really no light on her at that point, but like I said, it was hard not to watch her no matter what else was going on).

Notes I/Il Muto - Jeffries Mattox really casts an imposing aura when she’s onstage. Perhaps it’s her physical stature, but she really seems to dwarf the other actors in the scene like a proper diva should. Again, she shows off some classic Carlotta comedic delivery in both scenes and a very convincing croak Smile

Returning to the hanging of Buquet, this murder in full view of the audience (something the original production only implies) officially confirms that the Phantom is a killer. We always knew he was one, but there you have it, plain as day. No more fantasizing of a goody-goody misunderstood Phantom, this one stunt returns some edge to the character that has been slowly fading away.

All I Ask of You - Gleason shows off the same boyish charm in this scene as he did in the previous show, and Loyacano, again in keeping with the lyrics, goes from anxiety-ridden as the scene opens to flashbacks of her entranced moments during MotN, to loving as the song ends.

Angel Reprise - Crivello lacked the ominous entrance I sort of enjoy in Phantoms as they reveal themselves hiding in the Angel statue, but the mournful turn his voice took when he sang dispelled the disappointment. Lots of Phantoms become very emotional in this scene, but Crivello maintains a level of composure despite the fact that he’s been betrayed. This might make one think that his Phantom is colder than most, but believe me, this constant control he shows does pay off. One minor note of concern during this scene was how he covered his ears, crumpling the brim of his fedora as he did so (both shows, too). It’s probably wrong of me to fear for the appearance of a piece of headwear, but, hey, what can you do?

Masquerade - Just as good as before, but this time I got a much better look at the costumes. And is that Napoleon mannequin new to this production? I got a good glimpse of the Meg/Mme Giry dynamic in this scene as the Spencer physically shields Brianne once the Red Death appears. In fact, I saw a great deal of closeness between the two characters throughout the show. You don’t get that a lot, so it was a welcome experience.

Giry’s Tale/Notes II - Very immersive with the actors moving about the front rows, although I had to turn away to keep from bursting out laughing over the fact that the Vicomte was only a few steps away from my seat.

Wishing - Once more, Loyacano displays shades of Vroman’s powerful, emotional vocals in this scene. I’m not sure how people can think of this as a dull scene, considering it showcases the emotional conflict of the female lead. It’s always been a favorite scene of mine since it gives the actress some serious dramatic meat to bite into. I thought Loyacano did very well here in showing the conflict the character is facing and struggling to overcome.

Front row allowed for a better view of the Phantom’s fireball gauntlets, which look like ordinary thick black gloves that just happen to have fire shooting out of them. Scene proceeded as it does, puffed-out chested manliness from the guy on the ground staring down magic fireball manliness from the guy in the feathery hat. The couple runs offstage, The Phantom shouts, and I get my eyebrows singed off. The end.

Before the Premiere - Again, with the action all over the place, it’s a more immersive experience. And King Kong!Phantom still looked like he was ready to swat down a plane or two.

Don Juan Triumphant / Point of No Return - Okay, time to tuck the kids in, because this review is about to enter PG-13 territory. And if my sentences devolve from well thought-out observations into fragmented comments and pointless descriptions, just bear with me. ‘Cuz this was a Point of No Return that definitely lived up to a Las Vegas reputation.

A minor blooper occurred when Justin Lee Miller as Passarino accidentally knocked his cap off the table and needed a couple of tries to pick it back up since his hands were already full. It was a little distracting, but then you-know-who walked onstage and I forgot he was there entirely. Loyacano’s Aminta is definitely a more self-assured character, which makes the sexy Beyoncé-esque strut she does back to the bench work so well (not that I was staring or anything, I’m just really observant like that). Loyacano showed the same confident and sensual attitude that the last Christine I saw outside of Vegas, Marni Raab, had, although Loyacano trumped Raab in the “Best Performance with an Apple” category. To paraphrase Matthew Broderick from Biloxi Blues, it was hot. Africa hot. Tarzan couldn’t take this kind of hot. And then she did this slow slide across the bench… oh, how long has that guy in the hood been standing there?

But seriously, Crivello and Loyacano milked what remained of the song for all it was worth, infusing it with a real intensity. Personally, I like a little more foreplay with my PoNR, but I guess I’m just a romantic at heart.

Crivello sang with a barely-restrained passion like a powder keg ready to explode while Loyacano became bolder and practically the aggressor during the final moments on the bench. But the acting immediately switches off once she discovers who is under the black hood. I noticed that Crivello’s Phantom puts his ring on Christine’s finger, in keeping with his more dominant nature. The unmasking came off without a hitch, but it seemed that they were all onstage for longer than seemed plausible. Of course, the Phantom has to drop the chandelier and all, but considering the pace of the rest of the show, it seemed to actually slow down here.

Great scream from Brianne’s Meg, and how about that - an appearance of the old Final Lair lasso around Piangi’s neck (have they always used the gimmick noose here? I’ve never had this good a view before)!

Down Once More - The scene moves like gangbusters, but I think the line that was dropped from the Phantom’s lyrics lessened the pity the audience might feel for the character. In this version, you only get to hear about his tragic background during the opening moments of the Final Lair and I’m not sure if it’s enough.

Final Lair - Unlike the recent stage Phantoms who really manhandle their Christines as they enter the Lair, Crivello’s is rough, but controlled - angry to be sure, but it’s kept in check. In this final scene, I really have to give Loyacano kudos for the gutsiest Christine I’ve ever seen. Her Christine is practically pissed at this point, her first lines to the Phantom almost taunting. You could almost say that this was an ALW!Christine with a Leroux!Christine backbone. So much so that when the Phantom replies, she turns away from him and crosses her arms with an audible “hmph!” It’s only when he begins to lament about his childhood that her features soften and she turns back to him, the compassion she still has for him apparent on her face. In a blur, it seems, the wedding veil is already on her head and Raoul is climbing out of the lake. Gleason repeats his “friendly neighbor” pose on the opposite side of the portcullis and Crivello strikes a rather amusing gentlemanly stance not unlike Mr. Peanut as he says “Be my guest, sir…”

Once Raoul’s trapped in the cage, the tension ratchets up again as the three leads really pour their hearts out in what feels like a whirlwind of emotions. Anger, confusion, despair, pleading, all swirling around until the moment Crivello’s Phantom, fed up with the game, demands Christine choose. The kiss is the classic one, with the Phantom’s hands spasming uncontrollably. As the first kiss ends, Crivello lifted his head up in a silent cry, all the anger within him apparently purged by Christine’s kiss. And when she brought her lips to his a second time, his trembling arms lifted up as if to put them around her only to drop back down again.

Trimmed for timing and the new logistics of the scene, I rather miss the tense silent moments before the Phantom releases Raoul. Here, it seems to go straight from the kiss to the cage being lowered and Raoul being freed. Crivello’s Phantom seems to finally lose his self-control entirely as his “Go now and leave me!” comes out like a wail. But it’s the moment when he’s on his knees singing to the monkey music box that is the clincher - it’s then that the character openly weeps. It is the culmination of the character’s emotional journey through the show from a dominating presence to a fragile, ordinary man and is very effective. When Christine returns, you feel the surprise in Crivello’s reaction and the resigned acceptance when she hands him back his ring, the plaintive “Christine, I love you…” is very touching and Loyacano’s expression is that of tearful compassion as she raises a hand to her lips and rushes out leaving the Phantom alone once more.

Crivello’s final lines in the show are delivered very strongly as has become a staple with the show (although I do love it when their voice breaks with emotion during the penultimate line - which I’ve only seen happen once). And in a nice change of pace, Brianne forgoes the traditional look of wonder that Megs always seem to have in favor of a sadness when she picks up the mask, the only thing that the Phantom’s left behind. That backstory Brianne developed for her character really pays off in a very unique interpretation of the character.

Another swell-deserved standing ovation from those of us in the front row, but form all the applause and hooting I’d head for the cast throughout the performance, I’m sure the rest of the attendees followed suit.

Post Show Wrap-Up - I decided to stick around like some other people and to listen to the exit music since I was so close to the lobby already. And once I was out, I was prepped and ready to spring into action the moment I saw a face out of the playbill.

It still took some time for the actors to come out (and there were a lot of people waiting around this time, but they all appeared to be friends of cast members that were visiting for the holiday weekend), but the first face that I recognized was Rebecca Spencer’s, who I must say is the antithesis of Madame Giry - she’s a very animated and lively person offstage. While she was signing a couple of my programmes, I heard an amused voice to my left saying, “I ought to sign too, since I’m famous!” I looked up and saw Lawson Skala whom I never would have recognized on my own. Strange how that works out, really, I’ve never been able to recognize the actors who play the managers on my own. Anyway, he said that he’d be off to the side talking to some people if I wanted him to sign after I was through talking to Rebecca. And I was all for it had he not vanished once I turned around to look for him (guess I was talking to Rebecca a little longer than I had anticipated). Joseph joined me in the lobby at that point and pointed out Elizabeth Loyacano slipping back into the theater with some guests and not soon after, Geena Jeffries Mattox coming out the same doors. I took a step towards her but she was immediately met by several friends of hers so I stood a respectful distance away to wait for my opportunity to talk to her. While I was waiting, I spotted John Leslie Wolfe coming out the theatre doors by himself and, proud that I actually recognized an Andre for a change, went up to him and asked him for his signature. Now the actors seemed to be coming out of the woodwork because no sooner had I thanked Mr. Wolfe, that I saw Anthony Crivello walking out the side door.

Mr. Crivello proved to be very gracious when I asked him for his autograph, even asking me where I wanted to have it signed and if I wanted it personalized. I was sort of dumbstruck at the questions; usually the actors just sign their names. I’ve never been the position to have options before! *L* We actually talked for quite a bit when I brought up the name of my friend whom I was having the extra programme signed for. By the time I wished him goodnight, Ms. Jeffries Mattox had already left.

By this time, the ushers were already calling it a night, but I knew Ms. Loyacano hadn’t come back out yet so I figured I’d wait around a little longer. It took awhile, but she did eventually come out with her guests and to my mortification, I immediately fell into “flustered fanboy mode” (you’d think by my age that kind of thing wouldn’t happen anymore). I vaguely remember saying something rather trite like “I really admired your interpretation of the character” or something to that effect and that’s about it. She was quiet but cordial and thankfully she seemed ready to call it a night so I didn’t have the opportunity to make a bigger fool of myself Smile

So that’s it. End of story. Anybody still reading this?

R.

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Re: Phantom Las Vegas: 4 September 2006 - The Double Dip Edition

Post  operafantomet on Mon Nov 30, 2009 8:43 am

Yup, still reading! Thanks for re-posting this one.

Still giggle about that "no sketching" part, he-he...

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Re: Phantom Las Vegas: 4 September 2006 - The Double Dip Edition

Post  phantomphan1992 on Mon Nov 30, 2009 9:09 pm

Good date. September 4th is probably my favorite day of the year. Wink

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Re: Phantom Las Vegas: 4 September 2006 - The Double Dip Edition

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