27 August 2010, London, 7.30pm, Shannon, Webb, Barratt

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27 August 2010, London, 7.30pm, Shannon, Webb, Barratt

Post  auctioneer on Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:45 pm

I've never done a review before, though I've seen the show over a hundred times, so my review will probably not have the same flow. Rather than do a chronological review, I'll compartmentalize my thoughts.

Who Was On:
-All the principals with Christine alternate (Tabitha Webb) and Meg Giry 2nd cover (Liesl Dowsett)
-Mr Griffiths was off; Auction was, I believe, Stephen John Davis, though I'm not sure who covered the Reyer track (not the same person).

Performances:
-Rebecca Lock was, as usual, phenomenal. We never get to keep the excellent ones for long. She does not miss a beat and has found little things to do during scenes. Case in point is during Prima Donna, she and Piangi collaborate, as he steals one of the 'notes,' rips it, and Carlotta points and says "a-HA! Yes!' Little touches on top of wonderful vocals.
-I've mentioned this in the London thread, but I just don't believe that the Phantom part is a good fit for Mr Shannon. It's a powerful part, and while there is a place for toning things down in order to bring out the contrast, Mr Shannon really did not let loose at all during the performance. The Phantom part has beautiful cadences and powerful phrasings, but this was not really delivered in the performance. I want to think that this is because the part is simply not all that appealing to Mr Shannon, which would explain why he is leaving after less than a year, but I wouldn't want to speculate on his personal motivation. He rushed the final lair, as there was almost no time delay between taking the candle and setting Raoul free. His final phrase was also rushed. Maybe everyone just had a party to go to after the show or something, but it was simply too quick. On the other hand, in the few instances when he did project, his pitch was fantastic and dead on. As I said on the London thread, it was like listening to a recording. Very beautifully sung at times, but just not often enough.
-Mr Snook (whom I always associate with Gus the Theatre Cat) and Mr James (whom I always associate with Thenardier) are seasoned professionals who have their performances well honed and deliver solidly. Not much can be said against them, and they play well opposite each other. Mr James, as is his tendency, goes for comedy, which in this piece is a welcome relief.
-Ms Webb, as I suggested elsewhere, is a good Christine who reminds me of Robyn North. As the piece moves forward, one detects her naivete dissipating and a mature young woman emerging, capable of making her own choices. Her voice has a pleasant quality. Her final lair revealed a complex series of emotions, and her return with the ring suggested that she was leaving with a great deal of regret.
-Mr Tickell has done the part for several years and knows how to play his bits. He is to the point now where one can see him observing both fellow actors on the stage and in the audience, as he has grown very accustomed to his role. He does it well, though I have a feeling that he is capable of much larger roles. If I recall correctly, he was once understudy Phantom. I would think that he would have a strong voice in the role.
-Ms Adams delivered a solid performance, bringing the mystique of the character forward along with a strong yet graceful presence. For the first time, she reminded me of Heather Jackson. Vocally precise.
-Ms Dowsett had a lovely voice and played a beautiful Meg - one whom I could never imagine nearly drowning a child or shooting Christine! That's a compliment. Nice to see her emerge from the Corps de Ballet and deliver a strong performance.
-Mr Barratt was a perfectly fine Raoul who did not particularly stand out. I think that he will work on developing his character so that, like Christine, he matures throughout the performance. Right now he still appears just as oblivious in the final lair as in his first scene. That said, what I particularly appreciated about his performance was that his singing is clear, and I was able to distinguish his lyrics in Wandering Child and in Prima Donna, which is unusual.

Ensemble:
-Clearly this group enjoy working together. The tracks are so tight now that ensemble members know precisely when they can mingle with each other. During Masquerade in particular, it was clear that the performance is so familiar that the cast were enjoying themselves, and this shows to the audience.
-The dancing was precise and clear this evening. Fiona Morley was on, and I have always found that the ballet is tighter then.

Orchestra/Musical Direction:
-I have maximum respect for these professionals, as eight of them have been doing the show eight times a week for 24 years. I believe that it is likely still the largest orchestra in the west end (unless Oliver! is larger) with a particularly beautiful string section.
-Mr Gabriele holds the show together and appears to relish his roles in the show. I found that the ensemble were tight and in synch with the orchestra. This is not always the case at the show. Props to him for keeping everybody on pace.
-My sense continues to be that the performance was rather rushed. I don't know that I can credit this to the MD or to the principals, who appeared to set a quick pace.

Technical:
-Nothing went wrong in the performance
-All cues seemed to be precise
-The very busy stagehands must be careful not to appear on stage when the lights are up, particularly when setting up the final lair. Over the past few performances, I have noted a stagehand who appears on stage in order to set up the Phantom's organ.
-This has been said before, but I believe that standard operating procedure is to do the bulk of the moving of the Masquerade staircase both before the music cuts out of the Raoul/Giry scene and to finish it once it begins again. That sucker is loud.
-I'd like to start a campaign not to bring the lights up on the stage during the quick change to Il Muto, as the audience nearly always think it's the interval. Similarly, I'd like to get rid of the canned applause right before the chandelier crash, as everyone starts to clap. These two things have always (for silly reasons) bothered me.

I enjoyed the performance largely, though I found the speed regrettable. I appreciate that doing the show so often makes one prone to going a little faster, but something is lost from the piece if things move too quickly. The production is a well-oiled machine, and the ensemble clearly enjoy working with each other. It's the end of a contract, so I imagine that the company are enjoying their last few performances together.


Last edited by auctioneer on Fri Sep 03, 2010 10:46 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: 27 August 2010, London, 7.30pm, Shannon, Webb, Barratt

Post  operafantomet on Tue Aug 31, 2010 9:46 pm

Thank you for a nice review, it was interesting to read. I think I agree with you on several points.

When Stephen John Davis was on as the auctioneer, did he still do the Buquet role?

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Re: 27 August 2010, London, 7.30pm, Shannon, Webb, Barratt

Post  auctioneer on Tue Aug 31, 2010 9:52 pm

Yes, he was most definitely Buquet. I'm not 100% sure that he was the Auctioneer, but it certainly looked like him.

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Re: 27 August 2010, London, 7.30pm, Shannon, Webb, Barratt

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