London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

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London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  operafantomet on Fri Dec 18, 2009 11:47 pm

Phantom of the Opera, Her Majesty's Theatre, London, December 8th and 9th 2009

PHANTOM: David Shannon
CHRISTINE: Gina Beck
RAOUL: Will Barratt (u/s) and Simon Bailey
CARLOTTA: Melanie Growie (u/s)
ANDRÉ: Gareth Snook
FIRMIN: Barry James
PIANGI: Andrew Keelan (u/s)
MADAME GIRY: Nicky Adams
MEG GIRY: Emma Harris
AUCTIONÉER/REYER: Phillip Griffith
BUQUET: Stephen John Davis
LEFÈVRE: Tim Morgan

(as far as I could tell, identical casts for both days, except for Raoul)


BEFORE THE SHOW (DEC. 8th):
Originally I wasn't to see POTO on December 8th. But my plane got horribly delayed at Torp airport, which made me miss my appointment with the V&A. That annoyed my greatly, I was in such a shitty mood that evening. I knew the only thing that would comfort me would be to see Phantom. Asked for the cheapest ticket they had, and got Grand Circle, B2. Actually great value compared to the price (20 pounds)!

The scary ushers at HMT seems to be gone. It was almost like I missed them, because people took pictures like crazy before the show. A bit annoying after a while. But then... I gave in and did too. Without flash, mind you. The girl next to me seemed interested in me taking pictures, so I started chatting with her. Turned out she was from Germany, and had seen POTO in Hamburg, Stuttgart and Basel previously, as well as London! We chatted for a while about differences and such, and it was time for the show to start.

It was an understudy galore, which was rather fun. Too bad HMT never does a detailed cast list (as in who's playing the minor roles when understudies do the lead roles), but I think the above list is correct.


BEFORE THE SHOW (DEC. 9th):
Met up with Scorp by the Eros statue at Piccadilly. Did of course sit on the "Phantom side" (the statue is wrapped in, and the outside is decorated with huge posters for different musicals), and that's where Scorp found me. We went to eat and Phantom nerd, and then we headed for HMT.

Outside they keep a poster for "Love Never Dies". Hmm... You can see our opinion on that here:
http://desertedphans.forumotion.net/andrew-lloyd-webber-s-phantom-f1/love-never-dies-all-views-allowed-t32-255.htm
http://desertedphans.forumotion.net/andrew-lloyd-webber-s-phantom-f1/love-never-dies-all-views-allowed-t32-270.htm

Ha-ha!

We had rather splendid seats, F 24 and (I think) 25 in Stalls. It was Scorp's 30th show, after all. Very Happy

I've seen something like 11 performances a row in Copenhagen in only a few months, so forgive me for comparing Copenhagen and London at places. It's not done to argue who's the "better" production, just to compare how various details are different.


AUCTION / OVERTURE:
It does amuse me a tad that the London auctionéer does this snotty Oxford character instead of the spooky guy other aim for. I like both, and I don't think I've heard/seen the "Oxford auctionéer" anywhere else than in London. But they could tune it up a bit right before the chandelier. Will Barratt's old Raoul was very quiet, too quiet I dare say, but still I liked him immediately. Simon Bailey was more audible, their acting seemed to be very similar in this scene.

I like how silvery the legs of th London chandelier are, and how long the strings of beads are. Almost camouflages the legs entirely. The Copenhagen chandelier had big, black and very visible legs... The London one seemed to have more sound too, probably the long beads underneath.

The beginning of the new Overture wasn't all that different, I thought. But it was really funky towards the end, when it starts at the top again! You could seriously feel the drums and the rhythm.


HANNIBAL:
Ooooh, such strong and bold colours! Everything looked so glowing and intense. Seems London has adapted a new colour scheme for the Hannibal costumes the last couple of years, using deeper jewel colours than before. Intense emerald green, blood red, lots of gold. Very pretty.

U/s Carlotta Melanie Growie reminded me a lot of Wendy Ferguson, both in looks, acting and voice. Most people would be trhilled about that. However, I never really warmed to Ferguson's portrayal... I missed a sense of humour, a pinch of charisma. Carlotta is of course a tantrum, but she's also the grand diva of the Parisian opera, and needs to be a person everyone adores. What helped was that Growie had a softer voice than WF, I found her singing comfortable. But she still did the humourless diva. Anyway... when that is said, Growie was very good. Just not my preferred take on Carlotta.

I didn't notice we had an u/s Piangi as well. Having seen Rohan Tickell previously, and having him as one of my fave Piangis, I was a bit surprised when Piangi entered stage. He didn't have the grand voice I remembered, and he was rather tiny size wise as well. After a while I decided it had to be an understudy, and sure enough: when I checked the cast board afterwards, the name of Andrew Keelan appeared. That said, I liked him a lot in the role. He is very much in character. Nice voice too. But not exactly "Don Juan must loose some weight...."! Laughing

The slave girl dance sequence seemed more rapid than both Broadway and Copenhagen, but they were very much in sync. The current UK slavegirl costumes are so nice in the back! Really long, with the belts placed low. Very flattering to the figure.

Was VERY curious about Nicky Adams as Madame Giry. I strongly disliked her Christine, and wasn't sure what to expect. She did a super strict Madame, she would qualify to Joel Schumacher's envision of the stage Madame being an exclamation point... But I didn't necessarily dislike her. She didn't overact, and her voice suited the role. Not a favourite, but not horrible! Sometimes that's all I ask...

The backdrop fell a bit wrong on Tuesday. The stage right side seemed to still be suspended, while the stage left side fell as it should. Nothing major, but they seemed to work a bit on it to make sure they could raise it for TOM.


TOM:
Gina Beck must be one of the prettiest Christines ever. Shallow comment? You bet. But true? Yup. She looks goddamn pretty. I say that as an envious, straigh female! Had heard various clips on her online, and wasn't sure what to expect. Some has been really impressive, some has seemed a bit more unsteady and sharp. But live she sounds for the most fantastic. I felt her intro to TOM was too weak, no reason why she would be cast as Elissa, to fill in for Carlotta, if she sung like that. It also sounds like she need to concentrate to project sound at some of the high notes. And sometimes she seems not to bother...

But this was truly her grand number. Utterly charming, beautiful voice, and very gracious. And when she came to the cadenza, she lingred for a long time, played with the notes, showing off her technique, and flung out a loooong top note. She set the house on fire on Tuesday! The audience went wild, so fun to see. Very Happy She didn't make as much out of in on Wednesday, but it was still awesome.

Both Raouls was excellent in the box; Barratt with a slightly deeper voice, Bailey with a dash more natural authority. I loved them both.


AOM:
Creepy Buquet! He did a thing I've never seen before. When the ballet girls flocked to the pine rosin powder box (is that a word??) to dip their shoes in, Buquet was lurking in the shadows, and stood reclinging towards the proscenium. He even tried to carress one of the ballet girls, which looked very intimidated by him. In some way it reminded of the movie Buquet, except this one was more sly, more creepy. Then Buquet took the box off stage. A tiny, but very effective detail.

In Christine's dressing room... No Ellen Jackson??? Neutral Not for any of the performances. Whaaaat? Me and Scorp had planned to stalk her. Apparently she had heard that and fled the country...

Loved Meg (Emma Harris) from the very beginning. Cute how she looked back over her shoulder, to the other dancers, after each "Christine....". She and Gina Beck seemed to have such a good chemistry, very nice to watch.

Madame Firmin blurted out a jokingly "Richard!" when he implied a love story between the Vicomte and chorus girl. Another cute detail.


LITTLE LOTTE:
I loved both Raouls! I am a bit partial to Simon Bailey, though. Main reason is that he puts tons of energy into the role, he ad libs tiny stuff, he seems to react to what the others are saying instead of "just" following the script. And he has a gorgeous voice, and lots of authority. However, Will Barratt is also an excellent Raoul. He seems to have a clear idea about Raoul, adding small details of his own, and he has a full and deep (yet gentle) voice. They both have great chemistry with Gina Beck too.

Loved Bailey's comforting "....I know..." when Christine tells her father is dead.

The last dancer to walk off stage before the mirror scene usually walk in a way hinting to Degas' sculpture "Little dancer, age fourteen" (which the white costume is also based on). However, the current London production includes TWO works by Degas; the tired "fatigue" stretching AND the sculpture mentioned overneath. Again, a tiny detail, but a very cool one. I wonder if this is due to Gillian Lynne stopping by, or if it's an idea the dancer came up with.


MIRROR SCENE:
First encounter with David Shannon's Phantom. Special phrasing going on... Not bad, but a bit... odd. Also expected a lot more volum in his voice. Hmmm.

Gina Beck has an interesting take on the Christine role: she is absolutely mesmerized and hypnotihised by the Phantom's voice. In the last part of the mirror scene you can see her eyes go blank, her head is tilted backwards, and she is totally at his will. She repeats this in MOTN and "Wandering Child" too, and it reminds me of Leroux!Christine's reaction to the voice. Very cool.

Too bad the London production don't put ANY smoke in front of the mirror. In Copenhagen it was done to perfection, with a semi-full "cloud" blocking the view just for a short time, enough for the mirror to open without the audience noticing. By the time the Phantom turned, the smoke was gone, and so was Christine. In London they just slide the mirror open, and close it. SO obvious. I'm sure they intend to make it obvious, but I prefer some attempt to make it a magical moment.


POTO:
I very much prefer the 2004 orchestration to the new one... Sure, the new one is rocky and funky, but it lacks the cool yet subtle style of the 2004 one.

Love that they actually use the real actors for the second half of the travellator. Is this done elsewhere?

The HMT stage is a lot deeper than Det Ny Teater. Interesting to see how different the first half of the scene appears... But whazzup with the bright turquoise light on the smoke? It ain't Disney Land! Didn't particularly care for the crazy light, much prefer the "smoky" blue many productions still have. Has Broadway upgraded to the turquoise one?

I would have liked it much better if Gina Beck stayed "in trance" at the end of the cadenza instead of looking confused. Would keep up what she's doing in the Mirror scene and MOTN.


MOTN:
Liked David Shannon a lot here. He pauses here and there, really pronounce the words and lines, as if to make Christine understand just how important it is. He also appeared to be a sensual Phantom. Still wish for more volume in his voice (came in the "Beeeee!" note!).

Just when I was to conclude that Gina Beck is a perfect Christine, she started overacting. A lot. I HATED it on Tuesday. It was.... really, really bad. You all know the picture from the brochure, when she flungs her head backwards, her arms out, her mouth open? She did that. Several times. And way too pronounced. It was better on Wednesday, or maybe it just was my seating which made me perceive it differently, but I wish she would tone it way down. I mean, I like the idea of her being affected by the Phantom's voice, but not just on the high/strong notes. And not so overly pronounced. Subtle! Subtle! She needs to be a bit careful there...

David Shannon did a very short top note. Why is he so scarse with volume and sound? He HAS a lovely voice, I just want to hear more of it (and not just on the money notes).


STYDI:
Liked how Gina Beck acted out the beginning of this scene. Whent he monkey started playing, she just turned over, away from it, like it was an alarm clock she turned off. And then she seemed to remember....

I liked how David Shannon looked up at the mirror bride, and then turned away, when singing "...dreams of beauty...." I also liked how Christine's pose matched that of the mirror bride. I wonder if that was planned?

Should probably remember a lot more from this scene, but... it just didn't stand out in any way.


MAGICAL LASSO:
Make way for Creepy!Buquet!! What a Face I never realized one could have a favourite Buquet, but this guy was so different. Good different. And I like how his interpretation flesh out the life in the opera house, not just for those on top, but also the poor ballet rats.

In this scene He did the normal aerie/funny Buquet, but when telling about the magical lasso he also *almost* seemed to trying to kiss one of the ballet girls, making her uneasy, before yelling "BOOO!" at her. What a quirky and creepy Buquet! I would not be left alone in the dark corridors with him...

Christine and the Phantom was barely visible when they got up, maybe due to the depth of the stage? In Copenhagen they were really visible, if only for a second or three.


NOTES / PRIMA DONNA:
Barry James talk-sing a lot! At places he barely sung at all. Interesting to hear. And an odd opinion, but.... Gareth Snook's André seemed very America. Why? I dunno. I wish I could explain. There were something about his style and his... pronounciation? Hmm. Liked Piangi a lot here, he was wagging like a dog around Carlotta. Tee-hee. Also liked Simon Bailey's authority and style. Growie (Carlotta) didn't do the high notes at the end, I've been so spoiled by those when hearing Eva Malmgren flung them out. It really adds an exclamation point to the end of the scene! Do the UK Carlottas ever do the high notes? Come to think of it, I cannot remember having heard it there. Or? But very solid done, and tons of applause as usual.


IL MUTO:
Very mint green and pink! Carlotta's costume had got a mint green apron, and there were also other details with that colour. Fop trio seems to always be excellent, and I love the use of hand fan in London. They use it in an amusing and decadent way. I wonder why no-one else has adapted that detail, especially since the Carlotta-countess sketch includes a fan.

From my Grand Circle seat I could hear the Phantom sneak into place over the proscenium. Squeeky, old, lovely Her Majesty's!

Loved how André kept wording "The ballet" through his strained smile. "The ballet..... the ballet.... The ballet!".

But what kind of dead Buquet doll is London stuck with? OMG.... It looks fake, falls fake and probably feels fake. Seriously! It appears so stiff and pillow-like. The Copenhagen one had dangling arms and legs, and a rather convincing face and wig. I remember being anti-impressed with the London one in the past, but I didn't remember it being that bad...

Lovely ballet as such, though.


ROOFTOP:
As before: Simon Bailey very masculine, powerful, energic, and (I must add) sweet. Will Barratt a tad gentler, but with deeper and fuller voice. Loved them both here too. Liked how Raoul appeared to go down again after he throught he had comforted Christine enough (then she goes off rambling about this underground monster, and he realize they ain't going anywhere soon...).

Gina Beck did a rather bad"sooooaar" on Thursday, not got at all. It was better on Wdnesday, but not convincing. Strange, after hearing that TOM cadenza of hers. However, it sounded like AIAOY really suited her voice, it sounded really, really good. And she seems to have a great chemistry with most, or maybe all, of her co-actors. AIAOY was gorgeous, both in singing and acting.


I GAVE YOU MY MUSIC:
Loved David Shannon in this scene! As in, WOW! He seemed to sob and sulk and pour his pain out. Instead of sounding "just" beautiful, it sounded real, because it seemed like such raw emotions, anger, pain. One of the best Angel scenes I've seen.

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  operafantomet on Fri Dec 18, 2009 11:53 pm

Act 2 and pictures to come... Some day... Hopefully tomorrow. Smile

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  Scorp on Sat Dec 19, 2009 12:29 am

Interesting thoughts!

Am going to have to look up those Degas poses you referred to.

Re: the turquoise light, it looked like its usual blue colour to me when we went to see it on Wednesday. Unless the turquoise thing happened on Tuesday? Maybe it was just a lighting mistake.

Barry James and Gareth Snook have always sort of sung like that. Barry's voice for Firmin isn't much different from the voice he had as Thénardier (you can hear him on the Complete Symphonic Recording)...although it's obviously more refined, less rough (and in his Firmin's case, more alcoholic!). I enjoy Barry James' acting quite a bit. Gareth Snook's OK, not my favourite André but not the worst. I like him in the 'Il Muto' scene. And you don't want to hear him try an American accent, it's not good (he's Artie Green on the OLC of Sunset...do not like!).

I'm getting incoherent now, I should go to bed.

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  operafantomet on Sat Dec 19, 2009 12:50 am


The Copenhagen chandelier and the London one, app. same angle but different light. Still, you can see how noticeable the black legs of the Copenhagen one are compared to the London one. No wonder they could ram it down on stage like they did...



Passed HMT right after sunset, looked up some floors over the stage door, and this is what I saw! One of the costume rooms, with a not-in-use-for-this-performance Masquerade and Aminta costume looking down at me. So close, and yet so far (she said in melodramatic voice...).



Gina Beck, me + Stephen John Davis. Both of them super nice at the stage door, bless them.



Two random photos: the Auction set, and the Xmas poster by the Eros statue at Piccadilly Circus.


Scorp and Josephine, I have pics of you too to post. Mostly in front of posters. Is that OK with you?

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  Phantomlove on Sat Dec 19, 2009 3:19 pm

Lovely review, very interesting to read.
Re the turqoise light: It's been like that at HMT for ages, at least ten years I think. I always love it and have wished for other productions to include it but I've not seen it elsewhere. But you have a point in it being a bit Disney... Basketball . You haven't seen it before?

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  operafantomet on Sun Dec 20, 2009 9:41 am

Phantomlove wrote:Lovely review, very interesting to read.
Re the turqoise light: It's been like that at HMT for ages, at least ten years I think. I always love it and have wished for other productions to include it but I've not seen it elsewhere. But you have a point in it being a bit Disney... Basketball . You haven't seen it before?
Yes, I think it's been there for a long time, around the time they got the larger souvenir brochures I think, I had just forgot it was as pronounced as that. And I must admit I prefer the mistier, bluer colour.

Scorp, interesting about Gareth Snook. Must admit I haven't heard him in anything else than Phantom.

Act II to come very soon...

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  operafantomet on Sun Dec 20, 2009 11:12 am

ACT II:


MASQUERADE:
The staircase is actually differently placed that Copenhagen, probably due to more depth on stage. The London one seems to be deeper in and at a different angle, making less room at the side but more in front.

Because Scorp noticed a funny lifting detail about the "Scary Clown" in Copenhagen, I spent the whole of "Masquerade" watching London's Scary Clown to see if he did the same there. Nope, he didn't, but I saw other interesting stuff: the Scary Clown and the Matador seems to be outsiders of the party, and acts like naughty schoolboys. They stood behind the balustrade, goofed around, watched people, made silly gestures, appearing to looking for ideas for a practical joke. They also formed a cheerleader pyramide with one of the female dancers. They've probably always done that, I've just never seen it before...

Not to keen on the current Chrstine Masquerade costume. The bodice has crazy bright colours, and the skirt looks so glossy. I like Carlotta's very silvery costume, on the other hand.

Two other random observations: Hula girl was not on, despite having lots of understudies. Guess all main dancers were there. And it seems the cello plays Red Death's steps?

Red Death seemed very generic, but there were no evil laughter when the double came on. Is that standard?


BACKSTAGE:
Simon Bailey was at the "yelly" side. One would think it was too much, but he pulled it off so well. He was furious! He almost managed to cover up for the squeeky, loud folding-away of the staircase... Laughing Will Barrett did a more tones-down Raoul.

Suddenly foud it amusing how the music underscores every time Raoul figures out a new piece of the puzzle...


NOTES / TWISTED:
This scene seemed very generic up until TEW. Love how they increase the tempo right before Christine snaps (like in the Japanese cast CDs), very effective. They've done it for a couple of years in London, I'm surprised no-one else has adapted that.

Gina Beck seriously hammered on Raoul's chest, and she was also pushing him. Reminded of Rachel Barrell early in her run, very cool.

I know people dislike Nicky Adams, but I didn't. She sings the role rather well, especially in the "Notes" scenes. Her acting is a bit meeh, I found her way too strict. And she doesn't really look like how I envision Madame Giry at all, she has an almost masculine appearance. But I think she's way better than her reputation (as Madame Giry, that is... Her Christine is one of my least favourites. Autumn 2003 was a dark year for the London production, Christine wise...)


WYWSHA:
Gina Beck belted the ".....my naaaaaaaame" line and held the last note forever. Rather interesting to hear! I found WYWSHA to be one of her best numbers, because her Christine seemed to almost loose it and go into a state of madness. Much despair in her acting and singing.


WANDERING CHILD:
Lovely to hear the trio again, especially when Raoul is audible like both Simon Bailey and Will Barratt. Christine seemed to go into a trance again, I like that approach. Rest of the scene felt raher generic.


DON JUAN TRIUMPHANT:
I like how the Don Juan figures in the background seems to be gentle foreshadowings of what will happen later. The London costumes are more "farmish" in style, I can see how Sam Fleming's comment applies to them (but they do not apply on the US costumes, Vegas or not!).

Two of the cast members did some cool flamenco styled dancing before going offstage, very cool!


PONR:
Beautiful Aminta costume! I especially love the shape of the skirt (especially how big it looks compared to the tiny bodice), and the graded fringes over the shoulders. Very Happy

Gina Beck didn't go center stage to sing the "...of loooove" line, instead she made a sexy pose reclining towards the proscenium at stage left. I know Leila Benn Harris did the same, while Rachel Barrell did not. The later left in 2006, and there have been 5 others doing the role in the mean time. Who came up with that?

Rather liked David Shannon's singing her, very sensual and good pronounciation. He is holding back his voice for the most, but in PONR you can get away with it, and his distinctive pronounciation suited the song.

Loved how they slowed down the music and sang very soft in "We've passed the point... of no... return...".

Cool detail that Meg discovers the dead Piangi, screams, and then seeks comfort at whoever is closest. If I remember correctly, she sought out Raoul at one performance, and one of the managers at the other (or maybe I'm mixing?). In Copenhagen she stood there screaming, while the managers tried to stop the desperate Raoul (which I also liked).


DOWN ONCE MORE:
Liked how Shannon pronouced "BLACK!... despair". And excellent (though short) "Heeeeeell!" note.


FINAL LAIR:
Wedding dress skirt looks a LOT fluffier than before! It was the lace. Cool, but.... fluffy!

David Shannon did some excellent acting here. I don't find him to be the most intimidating of Phantoms, but he became a bit more unpredictable for this scene. He would benefit from a more edgy style, I think, judging by his "I gave you my music" and "Final Lair". That's the numbers he does best, and when he's good he's very good. I want more of this!

But the real joy of this scene was actually Simon Bailey's Raoul. He just puts a lot into the role. When Ramin Karimloo played Raoul, I loved how he dared making it a lead role instead of a supporting role (as some tend to do). It made the Erik/Raoul battle real. Tomas Kofod did the same in Copenhagen. And I've come to enjoy that so much. Simon Bailey is very in sync with that approach. His famous "spitting on the Phantom" after "Why make her lie to you to save me?" was awesome, his Raoul would take no nonsense, even from lunatics kidnapping his fiancée.

Will Barratt also did the spit thing, and was a masculine Raoul. But he still seemed to have a softer approach than Bailey, making the battle that of the Phantom and Christine. I like both ways of performing it.

Gina Beck reminded me a lot of Rachel Barrell in this scene, both in her acting in general (a bit spunky) and in various details. But she sat closer to the organ when singing the "...tears of haaaate!".

The kiss.... The reaction... I should remember some details. But I don't. scratch


So in short:

David Shannon has lots of potential, he can go either way. I like elements of his performance, and want a lot more of it. No point in saving the voice and holding back, because I think he has a good idea of where to take the role.

Gina Beck is the best Chrisine London has had in years. There are some vocal issues, but in general she has a stunning voice and a vibrant and interesting interpretation. Her acting is probably what I liked the most (though... I can see how some might find it too much, she's no softie on stage). She also has such a wonderful chemistry with all her co-players, with Raoul, with Meg, with the Phantom. Add that she's gorgeous to watch, and you have a winner.

Will Barratt is a superb Raoul understudy, me thinks. Deep, nice voice, interesting portrayal, a gentle touch, masculine. Was very happy to see him in the role.

Simon Bailey is a notch above that, though. Can see why he's the main Raoul. He puts lots of energy, thoughts and effort into the role, he makes the vicomte come alive. Strong voice too. Very much to my liking!

I could very well live without the purple design. I was prepared to dislike it, but... I hated it! Meeeeh. Especially inside, but it wasn't a winner outside either. But in general, the London production seems to be in very good shape, lots of details I found very cool. The extended role of Buquet, the new orchestrations, the small dance details, the vibrant new Hannibal costumes. If David Shannon settles more in the role, they'll have one of the best London casts in ages.

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  Scorp on Sun Dec 20, 2009 1:56 pm

Which turquoise light are people talking about? As in before the travelator comes into view or during the boat scene? Cos the boat scene has always looked blue to me in London -- bluer than in other productions, especially Broadway -- and I don't think I'm colour blind... scratch

Re the Red Death double laughter, no it's not usually missing in London...I have no idea why we didn't hear it because I remember wondering where it had gone to. *shrugs*

I can live with the purple, to be honest I do like it in the context of the poster you see which says "The Brilliant Original" and also in the Christmas poster, but I do think the main poster with the cast list should be toned down, as should the hanging signs, which were better when they were black. And if the reason for the change is because LND's colour is black then that's frankly ridiculous. I'm far more annoyed by that hideous poster used in America. Can someone please write to them and tell them it sucks?

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  operafantomet on Sun Dec 20, 2009 2:57 pm

The current lake colour in London to have a greener teint than the original (and also compared to what some others still have). Best description I have of a greenish blue colour is turquose, but maybe that isn't the right term for it in English? Still, I think you see the difference in these photos:



Glad to hear the Red Death maniac laughter is usually there, because it was so odd without it! It was missing both on Tuesday and Wednesday, that's why I wondered if they had cut it recently.

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  Lycanthrope on Sun Dec 20, 2009 3:09 pm

operafantomet wrote:The current lake colour in London to have a greener teint than the original (and also compared to what some others still have). Best description I have of a greenish blue colour is turquose, but maybe that isn't the right term for it in English? Still, I think you see the difference in these photos:



Glad to hear the Red Death maniac laughter is usually there, because it was so odd without it! It was missing both on Tuesday and Wednesday, that's why I wondered if they had cut it recently.

I know exactly what you mean about the colour of the lake, operafantomet - it used to shock me a bit as I was anticipating a more blue-ish colour for the lake, but I really like it!
And re: the Red Death laughter, I remember that being distinctly lacking last October, but as far as I can remember that had been rectified by the time I saw the show in September this year.
Anyway thanks for the review - I loved all the details and its made me intrigued about David Shannon's Phantom. Glad to hear that the cast is so strong at the moment.

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  Mandrake on Sun Dec 20, 2009 3:44 pm

Missing Red Death laughter has annoyed me for ages!

I first noticed it after they changed the sound system. It used to be very prominent, but now it seems either very quiet or missing entirely.

It makes him look a bit daft as he's capering down the stairs with the jaw going and hardly any sound coming out. I do wish they'd either fix the sound or stop the capering!

Lovely long review.

Did either of you notice anything about the interior condition of the theatre? I've found recently it's beginning to look a wee bit shabby, could do with a bit of a clean and new upholstery/ carpets I think... No doubt would be highly expensive though.

I hadn't noticed the colour of the lake, but the little glowing blue light under the monkey during the auction is a bit out of place. I guessed it was something to do with the remote control.

Now, does the monkey actually play the sound itself (at the auction)? It does seem to have two large speakers in the bottom and I swear when you sit close to the stage you can hear the sound come directly from it and change as it's moved left to right... But my friend says I'm mad and it's played by the orchestra.

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  starryeyed on Sun Dec 20, 2009 7:08 pm

I can't remember the last time I heard manic laughter from Red Death, and it certainly wasn't present on Wednesday!

Oh good question about the monkey, I have never thought about that and unfortunately don't know the answer.

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  Phantomlove on Sun Dec 20, 2009 8:14 pm

Scorp: The "turqoise, greenish" light comes on when the chorus sings "He's here the Phantom of the Opera" and the candelabras rise. I ususally describe it as "The enchantment under the sea light". I like it, but I also understand the Disney link and why it might be too much perhaps.

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  Raphael on Sun Dec 20, 2009 8:54 pm

operafantomet wrote:It does amuse me a tad that the London auctionéer does this snotty Oxford character instead of the spooky guy other aim for. I like both, and I don't think I've heard/seen the "Oxford auctionéer" anywhere else than in London.
All these little difference make me regret not seeing Phantom in London yet.

Gina Beck must be one of the prettiest Christines ever. Shallow comment? You bet. But true? Yup. She looks goddamn pretty. I say that as an envious, straigh female! Had heard various clips on her online, and wasn't sure what to expect. Some has been really impressive, some has seemed a bit more unsteady and sharp. But live she sounds for the most fantastic. I felt her intro to TOM was too weak, no reason why she would be cast as Elissa, to fill in for Carlotta, if she sung like that. It also sounds like she need to concentrate to project sound at some of the high notes. And sometimes she seems not to bother...

But this was truly her grand number. Utterly charming, beautiful voice, and very gracious. And when she came to the cadenza, she lingred for a long time, played with the notes, showing off her technique, and flung out a loooong top note. She set the house on fire on Tuesday! The audience went wild, so fun to see. Very Happy She didn't make as much out of in on Wednesday, but it was still awesome.
That sounds very nice. I'm hoping I'll get to see her perform sometime.

Creepy Buquet! He did a thing I've never seen before. When the ballet girls flocked to the pine rosin powder box (is that a word??) to dip their shoes in, Buquet was lurking in the shadows, and stood reclinging towards the proscenium. He even tried to carress one of the ballet girls, which looked very intimidated by him. In some way it reminded of the movie Buquet, except this one was more sly, more creepy. Then Buquet took the box off stage. A tiny, but very effective detail.
Interesting...

Too bad the London production don't put ANY smoke in front of the mirror. In Copenhagen it was done to perfection, with a semi-full "cloud" blocking the view just for a short time, enough for the mirror to open without the audience noticing. By the time the Phantom turned, the smoke was gone, and so was Christine. In London they just slide the mirror open, and close it. SO obvious. I'm sure they intend to make it obvious, but I prefer some attempt to make it a magical moment.
There's none at all? That's very curious. Has it been like that since the beginning? Here in the US, they always have some smoke in that scene.

Love that they actually use the real actors for the second half of the travellator. Is this done elsewhere?
To my knowledge, they do in the States.

But whazzup with the bright turquoise light on the smoke? It ain't Disney Land! Didn't particularly care for the crazy light, much prefer the "smoky" blue many productions still have. Has Broadway upgraded to the turquoise one?
I honestly don't recall. It's defintiely not a deep blue, though. That bright turquiose reminds me of the Blue Grotto in Capri, though.

Liked David Shannon a lot here. He pauses here and there, really pronounce the words and lines, as if to make Christine understand just how important it is. He also appeared to be a sensual Phantom. Still wish for more volume in his voice (came in the "Beeeee!" note!).
I wonder if he's going back to the original interpretation as the basis for his take on the character. Sounds rather different from Karimloo's Phantom.

Just when I was to conclude that Gina Beck is a perfect Christine, she started overacting. A lot. I HATED it on Tuesday. It was.... really, really bad. You all know the picture from the brochure, when she flungs her head backwards, her arms out, her mouth open? She did that. Several times. And way too pronounced. It was better on Wednesday, or maybe it just was my seating which made me perceive it differently, but I wish she would tone it way down. I mean, I like the idea of her being affected by the Phantom's voice, but not just on the high/strong notes. And not so overly pronounced. Subtle! Subtle! She needs to be a bit careful there...
Sounds like early Loyacano - pushing things to the limit to see how far one can go with it before pulling the interpretation back. Beck's been around for awhile, though, so you have to wonder why she's still doing that.

Liked how Gina Beck acted out the beginning of this scene. Whent he monkey started playing, she just turned over, away from it, like it was an alarm clock she turned off. And then she seemed to remember....
Oh that's nice. I like that interpretation Smile

Make way for Creepy!Buquet!! What a Face I never realized one could have a favourite Buquet, but this guy was so different. Good different. And I like how his interpretation flesh out the life in the opera house, not just for those on top, but also the poor ballet rats.

In this scene He did the normal aerie/funny Buquet, but when telling about the magical lasso he also *almost* seemed to trying to kiss one of the ballet girls, making her uneasy, before yelling "BOOO!" at her. What a quirky and creepy Buquet! I would not be left alone in the dark corridors with him...
I'm really starting to like this Buquet. It's another one of those named characters who aren't given all that much to work with, so it's nice when you see someone bring something unique to the role.


Very mint green and pink! Carlotta's costume had got a mint green apron, and there were also other details with that colour.

Mint green and pink? How many interpretations of the Countess costume are there?

I GAVE YOU MY MUSIC:
Loved David Shannon in this scene! As in, WOW! He seemed to sob and sulk and pour his pain out. Instead of sounding "just" beautiful, it sounded real, because it seemed like such raw emotions, anger, pain. One of the best Angel scenes I've seen.
Sounds great! Smile

R.

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  Raphael on Sun Dec 20, 2009 9:04 pm

operafantomet wrote:Because Scorp noticed a funny lifting detail about the "Scary Clown" in Copenhagen, I spent the whole of "Masquerade" watching London's Scary Clown to see if he did the same there. Nope, he didn't, but I saw other interesting stuff: the Scary Clown and the Matador seems to be outsiders of the party, and acts like naughty schoolboys. They stood behind the balustrade, goofed around, watched people, made silly gestures, appearing to looking for ideas for a practical joke. They also formed a cheerleader pyramide with one of the female dancers. They've probably always done that, I've just never seen it before...
Seriously? Hmm. I'm going to have to pay attention to the ensemble next time I watch the show...

Suddenly foud it amusing how the music underscores every time Raoul figures out a new piece of the puzzle...
Maybe they should add little lightbulbs over his head, too (or lighted candles in this case, I guess)

Gina Beck seriously hammered on Raoul's chest, and she was also pushing him. Reminded of Rachel Barrell early in her run, very cool.
Nice, a very physical Christine!

PONR:
Beautiful Aminta costume! I especially love the shape of the skirt (especially how big it looks compared to the tiny bodice), and the graded fringes over the shoulders. Very Happy
I've always preferred the London Aminta costume over the US one. The massive amounts of black fabric on the US bodices always struck me as overdoing it.

Gina Beck didn't go center stage to sing the "...of loooove" line, instead she made a sexy pose reclining towards the proscenium at stage left. I know Leila Benn Harris did the same, while Rachel Barrell did not. The later left in 2006, and there have been 5 others doing the role in the mean time. Who came up with that?
Uh oh, the Dirty Old Phan is stirring inside his crypt...

Cool detail that Meg discovers the dead Piangi, screams, and then seeks comfort at whoever is closest. If I remember correctly, she sought out Raoul at one performance, and one of the managers at the other (or maybe I'm mixing?). In Copenhagen she stood there screaming, while the managers tried to stop the desperate Raoul (which I also liked).
Intriguing...

But the real joy of this scene was actually Simon Bailey's Raoul. He just puts a lot into the role. When Ramin Karimloo played Raoul, I loved how he dared making it a lead role instead of a supporting role (as some tend to do). It made the Erik/Raoul battle real. Tomas Kofod did the same in Copenhagen. And I've come to enjoy that so much. Simon Bailey is very in sync with that approach. His famous "spitting on the Phantom" after "Why make her lie to you to save me?" was awesome, his Raoul would take no nonsense, even from lunatics kidnapping his fiancée.
I'm not sure about the spitting, but I do like the more assertive (even while being strangled) Raouls, yet don't detract from the battle of wills between the Phantom and Christine.

Great review, Anéa!

R.

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  starryeyed on Sun Dec 20, 2009 9:42 pm

Yes, Emma does appear to seek comfort in whoever is closest. However, as the lights come up I've noticed she always ends up cuddling into Nicky as Simon struggles with Gareth (one of the stupidest looking things i think because Simon is clearly stronger than Gareth, he could easily get past him. I actually was at a performance he knocked poor Gareth right off his feet! Heather who was Giry at the time in order to cover then pulled him back and carried on with the scene.)

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  Helen on Sun Dec 20, 2009 11:51 pm

ruthy wrote:I can't remember the last time I heard manic laughter from Red Death, and it certainly wasn't present on Wednesday!

It wasn't there on Thursday, either. To be honest, I can't remember if the double even appeared at the top of the stairs when the Phantom disappeared. I'm sure it must have, I just didn't notice.

I know people dislike Nicky Adams, but I didn't. She sings the role rather well, especially in the "Notes" scenes. Her acting is a bit meeh, I found her way too strict. And she doesn't really look like how I envision Madame Giry at all, she has an almost masculine appearance. But I think she's way better than her reputation (as Madame Giry, that is... Her Christine is one of my least favourites. Autumn 2003 was a dark year for the London production, Christine wise...)

I liked her a lot more than I expected to. She's not my favourite, but I didn't dislike her. I thought her best scene was the second Notes scene, as her acting was good and her singing was a lot stronger than it was during the rest of the show. Thanks for putting up the review. I'll try and get mine from Thursday night posted tomorrow or the next day.

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  Scorp on Mon Dec 21, 2009 10:50 pm

operafantomet wrote:The current lake colour in London to have a greener teint than the original (and also compared to what some others still have). Best description I have of a greenish blue colour is turquose, but maybe that isn't the right term for it in English? Still, I think you see the difference in these photos:



Aaah, I see what you mean now. But isn't that blue-green colour used in other places too? I quite like it, but I didn't realise things had necessarily changed from years before. Maybe I'm just inobservant. But then, does it not look more blue and less 'turquoise' to you when you see it on things like the new press reel footage with Ramin and Gina? I think it looks more blue in person than it does in that picture. *shrugs*

I'm starting to wonder now based on others' comments whether the Red Death double's laughter is usually there post-sound-system-update. It was definitely there previously, and I *thought* I heard it even after the sound system was upgraded, but I could be wrong. I'll have to listen out for it again next time I go. It looks a bit silly for the double to be laughing as you can see him clearly do when there's no sound coming out.

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  SenorSwanky on Tue Dec 22, 2009 9:05 am

The US productions are pretty blue-green during the lair scenes.

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  starryeyed on Tue Dec 22, 2009 1:19 pm

Don't worry Scorp don't think you're going mad. I think a couple of times since the sound system upgrade i have heard the laughter, but really quietly. Actually... I think it seemed to disappear when the 08-09 cast started... and not right after the sound system upgrade. I definitely remember hearing it in June and September 08 but since then I don't know if I have.

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

Post  operafantomet on Tue Dec 22, 2009 2:34 pm

Raphael wrote:
]Liked David Shannon a lot here. He pauses here and there, really pronounce the words and lines, as if to make Christine understand just how important it is. He also appeared to be a sensual Phantom. Still wish for more volume in his voice (came in the "Beeeee!" note!).
I wonder if he's going back to the original interpretation as the basis for his take on the character. Sounds rather different from Karimloo's Phantom.
You know what? When I saw him for the first time (Tuesday) I actually thought about Crawford or another early UK Phantom. But then there were little else giving me those vibes, so I didn't write it in the review. But yes, I found him very different from Ramin Karimloo.


Very mint green and pink! Carlotta's costume had got a mint green apron, and there were also other details with that colour.

Mint green and pink? How many interpretations of the Countess costume are there?

R.
Well, the UK ones has been mint green/pink for a long time. The whole scene is dominated by those two colours, and it looks quite yummy. But the costume u/s Carlotta wore had a mint green apron from doom! It might have been this one, excep it appeared even greener to me:

http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v323/reiseaudun/designilmuto/mutoeu6.jpg

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Re: London December 8th and 9th 2009 (Shannon - Beck - Barratt/Bailey)

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