London 17/12/09: Shannon/Webb/Bailey

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London 17/12/09: Shannon/Webb/Bailey

Post  Helen on Tue Dec 22, 2009 10:43 pm

I’ve finally got round to writing my review of the performance on the 17th of December 2009. I had a great seat in the middle of row E in the stalls. First off, I checked the cast board, and was pleased to find that I would be seeing a Phantom and Christine that I hadn’t seen before.

The Cast

The Phantom: David Shannon
Christine: Tabitha Webb
Raoul:Simon Bailey
Carlotta: Rebecca Lock
Firmin: Barry James
Andre: Gareth Snook
Madame Giry: Nicky Adams
Piangi:Rohan Tickell
Meg Giry: Emma Harris

Prologue/Overture

“Sold, your number sir!” Philip Griffiths did his usual thing as the auctioneer. He’s great. I like Simon Bailey as Old Raoul, he sounds so old and frail. Then the chandelier was sold and the familiar sound of the overture filled the auditorium.

Hannibal

Rebecca Lock is awesome. She sounded and acted exactly like I imagine Carlotta to. Her Carlotta wanted to be the centre of attention the whole time. She kept having a go at the Wardrobe Mistress (Ellen Jackson), which was very funny. At one point, the Wardrobe Mistress was fixing her hem and Carlotta strutted away. The Wardrobe Mistress was dragged forward and pretended to cut her lip on a pin, then dropped the pin and spent ages looking for it. There were loads of other funny things that both Rebecca and Ellen did, but I’d be here forever writing about them. Barry James and Gareth Snook were both very good as the managers. Firmin’s hip flask has returned, and he took a few sneaky sips from time to time. I quite liked Nicky Adams as Madame Giry. She was very strict, and when Andre tried to introduce himself to her, she was having none of it, giving him a “talk to the hand” gesture. Now for my first look at Tabitha Webb as Christine. She’s so pretty. Her wig is a lot lighter than the one Gina Beck wears. Its very light brown and has lovely ringlets. She was very cute when she ran in late for the ballet. She kept subtly glancing over at Meg to make sure she was doing the right steps. There was quite a funny moment when Piangi climbs up onto the elephant and the cast finish the chorus of Hannibal. Normally, the audience applauds straight away. Not this time. There was deadly silence for two or three seconds before someone clapped.

Carlotta’s Think of Me

Rebecca sang this bit excellently, slightly OTT, but brilliant. I loved how she flirted a bit with Andre and Firmin was left standing there. Her “these things do ‘appen!” tantrum was so funny. She really let rip! M. Lefevre looked absolutely terrified, he was actually shaking! Carlotta was obviously another reason why he was leaving the opera house in the “capable” hands of Andre and Firmin! She flounced out, practically knocking over the Wardrobe Mistress and anyone else who happened to be in her way! Rohan Tickell’s high pitched “amateurs” never fails to amuse me. Stephen John Davis played Joseph Buquet. He has a fantastic voice, it’s a shame he doesn’t really get to show it off as Buquet. I hope to see him play the Phantom at some point.

Christine’s Think of Me

Meg was very cute when she volunteered Christine to sing, but Christine pulled her back and seemed reluctant. Tabitha’s nervous bit at the start was good and when she got into main part of the song, I realised that her voice was beautiful. It has a lovely pure quality to it. I think they had a few problems attaching the skirt, as she had to start singing while Ellen was still fixing it. Tabitha’s cadenza was gorgeous, I was very impressed. Simon looked and sounded great in the box. His voice was a lot stronger than I remember it being.

Afterwards, we catch a glimpse of a very sleazy looking Joseph Buquet. He stood in the shadows for a long time eying up Christine and the ballerinas. I wish Nicky Adams would get angrier with the ballerinas in the “you were a disgrace tonight” bit. I thought Nicky looked almost perfect as Madame Giry. From her picture in the programme, I was worried that she’d look a bit young, but she didn’t.

Angel of Music

Emma Harris was very sweet when she sneaked away from the ballet lesson, she kept looking over her shoulder to make sure Madame Giry didn’t catch her. She had a nice voice, and she and Tabitha looked very cute together. Tabitha seemed excited, yet scared at the thought of her Angel being near. Ellen Jackson was obviously eavesdropping on their conversation. She looked at Christine as if to say “that’s nice dear.” When she came in to collect Meg, Nicky Adams was good. She sounded suitably angry. When she was told to “go and practice,” Meg looked sulky and tried to protest, but it took one look from Madame Giry and she was off!

Little Lotte/Mirror

I love the purple dress that Madame Firmin wears, it’s become my favourite costume. I wish she was onstage for longer, just so I could have a good look at it! Simon and Tabitha were lovely together. I liked that Raoul whispered “I know” when Christine said her father was dead. It was a nice little touch. Last week was the third time I’d seen Simon play Raoul, and I’ve come to really like his Raoul. David Shannon was good in the Mirror. His voice was very hypnotic, but perhaps not as strong as other Phantoms I’ve seen. Tabitha seemed mesmerised by his voice. She waved her arms about a bit too much for my liking, but apart from that I liked her.

Title Song

It was much the same as ever, to be honest. Both David and Tabitha sounded lovely. I paid more attention than usual to the staging. I had fun trying to work out which pair was the real Phantom and Christine and which was the double. The candles and the boat still look beautiful. David’s “sing, my angel” was very commanding. I liked Tabitha’s high note at the end, but I didn’t like how she clutched her throat when she sang it.

Music of the Night

I’ll be completely honest here. Having loved David as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, I expected to be completely blown away by his MOTN. However, I was slightly disappointed. He sang it well, and he does have a lovely voice, but his big notes sounded a bit quiet. His acting was very good, quite similar to Earl Carpenter, I thought. To me, that’s a good thing, as I loved Carpenter’s Phantom. Tabitha’s acting was good too, quite subtle, but she was totally under the Phantom’s spell. The Phantom caught Christine when she fainted this time. The last time I saw the show, Ramin Karimloo had an injury so let her fall. It was a little detail that I missed.

Stranger Than You Dreamt It

Tabitha’s acting was lovely. When she woke up, she looked round the Phantom’s lair like a curious child. When she saw him, she hesitated for a bit before going to him and removed his mask. David Shannon didn’t go as nuts as other Phantoms I’ve seen. He seemed quite restrained, actually. Tabitha looked terrified and cried quite a lot.

Magical Lasso

I love Stephen John Davis as Buquet, he’s creepy. He seemed to love scaring the ballet girls. Madame Giry soon came in and spoiled his fun. He actually seemed to listen to her. I’ve never seen a Buquet do that before. He usually completely ignores her!

Notes/Prima Donna

Everyone sang and acted well here, particularly Rohan and Rebecca. He followed her around like a lovesick puppy, which was funny. When she’d had her rant about receiving the note, she crumpled it up and dropped it on the floor. She then looked at Rohan and then at the crumpled piece of paper. He dutifully picked it up and put it in his pocket. Firmin’s hip flask made an appearance at least once. Prima Donna was good, but I could only pick out Rebecca’s and Simon’s voice.

Poor Fool…

The Fops and the Confidante sounded excellent and the guy who played Don Atillo was brilliant! I’m not sure who he was as I don’t have a programme to hand, but I really liked him. His voice was strong and I loved the way he looked at Carlotta’s “maid.” Tabitha looked so cute in her pageboy outfit. Again, Rebecca attracted my attention the most. She’s only been playing the role for a short time, but she’s really made the part her own and made me forget about the other actresses I’ve seen play the role. Her “your part is silent, little toad!” was said through gritted teeth. She sounded so angry, yet so evil! Gareth Snook was brilliant when he was arranging to get the ballet moved forward. He was wringing his hands and sounded so nervous. He gives the audience a strained smile, which I thought was funny!

Why Have You Brought Me Here/All I Ask Of You

Both Tabitha and Simon were fantastic here. Christine seemed so scared, yet Raoul didn’t believe what she was telling him, and got quite annoyed at her. It seemed that all Christine wanted was someone to love and protect her. All I Ask Of You was lovely. It’s not my favourite song in the show, but Tabitha and Simon sang it well. It was so romantic. When he went down on one knee to propose, she left him kneeling there for ages before bending down to help him up. When Raoul told Christine he loved her, she gave him the most beautiful smile and looked so relieved that someone was going to take her away from her nightmare.

All I Ask of You Reprise

This scene always makes me cry, and this was no exception. David put so much emotion into his voice, and he looked like a broken man when he heard Christine and Raoul singing together. His voice was really strong when he sang the last few lines, which was a bit of a surprise, as I found his MOTN a bit weak. The chandelier fell right above my head, which was a bit scary!

I promise that act 2 will be shorter, and posted as soon as it's finished!

Helen

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Re: London 17/12/09: Shannon/Webb/Bailey

Post  Scorp on Wed Dec 23, 2009 9:11 am

Helen wrote:
I love the purple dress that Madame Firmin wears, it’s become my favourite costume. I wish she was onstage for longer, just so I could have a good look at it!

I like the costume too. Ah, if I were a girl, I'd so audition to be Mme Firmin. Each night I'm sure I'd find a new interesting way of saying "Greedy!" Laughing Maybe you don't need to be a girl? They should have a Mme Firmin in drag one day to see if anyone notices.

I liked Tabitha’s high note at the end, but I didn’t like how she clutched her throat when she sang it.

Gina does that as well...I think it's a new direction (or an old one that's come back into use). Think it's supposed to go along with the idea that the notes coming out of her mouth at that point are alien to her and are coming out as if by magic (the 'magic' idea is apparently what led to ALW's decision to make those notes pre-rec, as apparently Sarah Brightman, Claire Moore and Rebecca Caine sang them live at one point in the early days of the London production before...this is all according to Rebecca Caine, anyway). I sort of like the idea, haven't really made up my mind on it though. Either way it's a lot more subtle than in Hungary where Christine faints after singing the high note (IIRC?).


I’ll be completely honest here. Having loved David as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, I expected to be completely blown away by his MOTN. However, I was slightly disappointed. He sang it well, and he does have a lovely voice, but his big notes sounded a bit quiet.

Yeah I think my attention sort of wandered during David's MotN. To be honest I wasn't keen on Ramin's either, though. I hope the whole holding back on the notes thing is temporary and David Shannon doesn't end up doing that forever. Don't like it when the "niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight" ends really early. Was listening to JOJ's new album last night and his MotN still blows me away completely.

When she saw him, she hesitated for a bit before going to him and removed his mask. David Shannon didn’t go as nuts as other Phantoms I’ve seen. He seemed quite restrained, actually. Tabitha looked terrified and cried quite a lot.

That's a problem I've found generally with London Phantoms, they don't get nearly as mad as they should do on that unmasking scene. I understand it can't be too excessive as the audience can't see at that point what the big deal with his face is and won't do until Act 2, but still for the characters it's the first time The Phantom's deliberate manipulative illusion and deception goes completely t*ts up and potentially ruins any attraction Christine may have had for him, so he should get insane as per the novel and the original film IMHO. JOJ did a fair bit of screaming at that point, but I don't think other London Phantoms have really since.

I love Stephen John Davis as Buquet, he’s creepy. He seemed to love scaring the ballet girls.

Very Happy I've turned into a big SJD fanboy. Laughing

His voice was really strong when he sang the last few lines, which was a bit of a surprise, as I found his MOTN a bit weak. The chandelier fell right above my head, which was a bit scary!

I know! I don't get why, but it's not until the Angel scene that Shannon's Phantom really picks up for me. It's like he suddenly wakes up. His second Act is better than his first, IMHO.

So Tabitha's all right then? *tries to block memories of that awful Songs of Praise video* Still dubious as to whether I should ever book for a Monday or Thursday...but then to be honest even if she were fine, I like Gina so much that I'd still probably want to go and see her instead.

Liking this sudden influx of London reviews, thanks! Smile

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Re: London 17/12/09: Shannon/Webb/Bailey

Post  Helen on Wed Dec 23, 2009 11:24 am

Scorp wrote:
Helen wrote:
I love the purple dress that Madame Firmin wears, it’s become my favourite costume. I wish she was onstage for longer, just so I could have a good look at it!

I like the costume too. Ah, if I were a girl, I'd so audition to be Mme Firmin. Each night I'm sure I'd find a new interesting way of saying "Greedy!" Laughing Maybe you don't need to be a girl? They should have a Mme Firmin in drag one day to see if anyone notices.

I suppose she doesn't have to be a girl. I'd autition to be Madame Firmin too, just so I could wear the dress. She gets to understudy Madame Giry too, which would be really cool.

So Tabitha's all right then? *tries to block memories of that awful Songs of Praise video* Still dubious as to whether I should ever book for a Monday or Thursday...but then to be honest even if she were fine, I like Gina so much that I'd still probably want to go and see her instead.

I liked her a lot, but that's just my opinion. Try not to judge her by the Songs of Praise video. I thought she was much better than that. I like her about the same as Gina. They're quite different. There are some parts where I like Gina more, some parts where I prefer Tabitha. Act 2 will be up some time this afternoon.

Helen

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Re: London 17/12/09: Shannon/Webb/Bailey

Post  Helen on Wed Dec 23, 2009 3:24 pm

Now for Act 2

Masquerade/Why So Silent?
It was as lovely and colourful as ever. I didn’t notice the scary clown this time and Hula Girl wasn’t there. The fish was on though. Christine’s dress looked a bit different from usual. The colours seemed a lot brighter, and the material of the dress seemed a bit shinier. Simon’s jacket looked a bit old and battered. I hope the wardrobe department sort it out soon! I liked the bit where they were all dancing on the stairs and singing together. Rebecca’s voice is so powerful, I could hear her over everyone. Why So Silent was the same as usual. Christine went straight into a trance as he beckoned her to him. I’m pretty sure that the Red Death double failed to appear at the top of the stairs.

Backstage with Raoul and Madame Giry

I liked Simon. He sounded angry and very threatening towards Madame Giry. He didn’t shout as much as he has in previous performances that I’ve seen, but he still sounded a bit scary. Nicky Adams was OK. She delivered her lines well, but she didn’t do anything remarkable.

Notes 2/Twisted Every Way

Everyone in the cast really raised their game here. I was particularly impressed by Nicky, since she hadn’t really stood out earlier in the show. Her “madness” bit sounded really great. She acted quite frightened and frustrated that no one was taking her seriously. Simon was again angry and threatening towards her when he asked her if she was on the Phantom’s side. It was a nice continuation from the previous scene. Rebecca was fantastic as Carlotta! She was so evil towards Christine. When Christine had her little outburst she sniggered, then there was the realisation on her face that Christine might actually be mad.

Don Juan Rehearsal

Rebecca stole the scene. When Laughing guy laughed at Piangi, she gave him a dirty look which soon shut him up! She then smacked Reyer on the bum with her score to get his attention. When Madame Giry asked “would you speak that way in the presence of the composer?” she replied as if Mme Giry was a bit stupid! Nicky’s “can you be certain of that” was a bit quiet. I couldn’t really hear her.

Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again

I really loved Tabitha’s rendition of the song. At the start, she looked terrified and was fidgeting with her scarf. She sounded so emotional throughout the song, yet her voice was beautiful. I need to mention the Wishing gown. It’s so beautiful.

Wandering Child

David’s voice was so hypnotic, quite similar to how he was in the mirror. He sang “fathering gaze” instead of “far reaching gaze.” I liked the change. As soon as she heard the Phantom’s voice Christine was totally under his spell. When Simon came on to sing his bit, his voice completely overpowered the other two, which was a shame.

Before the Gala

There was a funny moment between the managers. Firmin said to Andre “is this going to work?” Andre replied sarcastically “do you have any better ideas?”

Point of no Return

Tabitha looked gorgeous in the dress. When she heard the Phantom’s voice, it seemed like she recognised it, but dismissed the idea, thinking that she was hearing things. It was only when she felt his mask that she realised for certain that it was him. Tabitha didn’t struggle against him as much as other Christines I’ve seen. A little touch that I liked was that David forced the ring onto her finger. I don’t think I’ve seen it done that way before. I loved both David’s and Tabitha’s voices, very strong and clear. The chaos after they leave was great. Raoul really didn’t want to go with Madame Giry, she had to convince him that it was a good idea.

Final Lair

Both David and Tabitha were very good. There are lots of little details that I’ve forgotten, but I’ll write what I remember. He had a manic look in his eyes when he was fixing her veil and he shoved the bouquet into her hands. He seemed not to hear her when she said that it was in his “soul where the true distortion lies.” I always like Simon in this scene. He did the “go to h€ll!” ad lib, but fortunately he didn’t mutter “freak” this time. Christine seemed utterly betrayed by the Phantom and had to summon all her strength to kiss him. The kiss was good. Raoul looked absolutely gutted. The Phantom didn’t react at all at first. He kept his arms by his side, and when he realised what was happening, he pulled away from her. He put his fingers to his lips and they stood in silence for ages before he let Raoul go. David really let rip with the “go now and leave me!” The goodbye between Phantom and Christine was heartbreaking. He stood up, looking hopefully at her. When he said “I love you,” he touched her cheek gently with his fingertips and she gave the ring back to him as she burst into tears. In the boat, she kept glancing back. David’s “it’s over now, the music of the night” was really powerful! Then he sat on his throne, covered himself in his cloak, and he was gone. Meg appeared, ripped off the cloak, picked up the mask and knelt centre stage holding it up. Then the lights went down and the show was over.

At the curtain call, Rebecca and David got the biggest cheers from the audience. When I left the theatre, the snow started to fall and I felt all Christmassy! As always, a massive thank you to the cast and crew of Phantom for yet another wonderful show! Merry Christmas one and all!

Helen

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Re: London 17/12/09: Shannon/Webb/Bailey

Post  starryeyed on Wed Dec 23, 2009 8:20 pm

Thanks for the great review. And you've made me think of something, I don't think the red double appeared the night before either. The clown was certainly on though, hate him. Loving all the new London reviews, I could do one but I don't know if I have the energy. And all I really have to add is in Prima Donna Simon did a crazy note that he should really do more often!

I have never saw Tabitha but the picture of her in the PONR dress shows she looks gorgeous in it.

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Re: London 17/12/09: Shannon/Webb/Bailey

Post  Helen on Thu Dec 24, 2009 12:07 am

Scorp wrote:
I love Stephen John Davis as Buquet, he’s creepy. He seemed to love scaring the ballet girls.

Very Happy I've turned into a big SJD fanboy. Laughing

I've been a fan of his for a while now, ever since I saw him as Javert in Les Mis. He was great, that's why I'm so keen to see him play Phantom.

Yeah I think my attention sort of wandered during David's MotN. To be honest I wasn't keen on Ramin's either, though. I hope the whole holding back on the notes thing is temporary and David Shannon doesn't end up doing that forever. Don't like it when the "niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight" ends really early. Was listening to JOJ's new album last night and his MotN still blows me away completely.

I wasn't that keen on Ramin's also. Out of the Phantoms that I've seen, JOJ's MOTN is my favourite. I must get a copy of his album!

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