Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Crivello/Holden/Ragone - 28 September 2010 7pm and 9:30pm: The “Poppin’ Phantom Cherries Left and Right” Edition

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Crivello/Holden/Ragone - 28 September 2010 7pm and 9:30pm: The “Poppin’ Phantom Cherries Left and Right” Edition

Post  Raphael on Mon Sep 06, 2010 1:00 am

Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Crivello/Holden/Ragone - 28 September 2010 7pm and 9:30pm: The “Poppin’ Phantom Cherries Left and Right” Edition



I haven’t double-dipped Phantom in years, but when the opportunity arose to see the show with some Phantom “virgins” – at not only one, but two performances in a single night – one doesn’t pass it up. And due to some fortuitous circumstances, we managed to have one set of virgins sitting under the chandelier in the early show and another virgin in the front row for the late show.

My only (minor) concern was that having come from the Hope 3 benefit dance concert earlier that afternoon, I thought that some members of the cast might not be at their usual 100% after such a long day. But I knew that they were all professionals, and they’d put on a great show even if they were dead on their feet.

The performances at both shows were virtually identical, so I will be condensing both the 7pm and 9:30pm shows into a single hybrid review. As it turns out, it was a great night for introducing noobs to our obsession.

Prologue:
Swing extraordinaire Scott Watanabe was on as the Auctioneer that night. Again, nobody out-creeps Lackey, but Scott had a good bit of sinister in his voice working for him. Although I thought at one point I saw him crack a slight smile. VERY un-Auctioneerish if that was the case. But then again, one of us in the front row might have been doing something silly. Like, I don’t know, bidding on the merchandise or wearing a snorkel or something.

Overture:
Sitting up front so often, you begin to forget what a visual treat it is to sit further back and take in the transformation of the auditorium as a whole rather than missing a lot of it because it’s taking place behind you. Now if the guy sitting next to me would just stop playing on his smartphone…

Hannibal:
Danielle White was out that night, so we were treated to Carlotta understudy Arsenia Soto who – upon first glance – looked like the Mini-Me version of Geena Jeffries-Mattox. Considering how severely cut down the role is in Vegas, Arsenia did a great job utilizing every moment she had to give Carlotta a personality and some dimension.

I also took the opportunity to focus on the ensemble this time around; taking mental snapshots of characters such as the Lion Man, Wild Women, and Gollywogs for reference and seeing what little stories are going on behind the main action. I did take notice of Doug Carfrae’s Lefevre line readings and reactions to other characters. I enjoyed how he said, “May I have your attention please? Please?!?” in a hopeless manner as well as the lines concerning his departure, quickly raising his hand to stop anyone from asking any questions so he could introduce the new managers – as if he’d sprung the news to the company only then and there. He also scolded Meg after her first “He’s there, the Phantom of the Opera!” outburst, to which Brianne could be heard protesting, “I didn’t do anything!” I actually heard a lot of these non-lines throughout the show and will endeavor to note them as I go along.

After the Sylvan Glade drop fell (Brianne could be heard saying, “Did you see that?” to Christine off to the side), Arsenia’s Carlotta ran the gamut from angry at Andre’s somewhat dismissive outlook on the “accident” to her fury at Lefevre for not doing anything about it in the past to genuine emotional hurt by the events as she left the stage like she was some bachelorette party attendee that fell asleep at Ká only to wake up to find her bobble penises shoved into her mouth ("Aw, man! Every single time I fall asleep, the same s#!% happens…").

Brianne’s “Hey, I’ve got an idea!” pantomime to Kristi Holden’s Christine just before she suggests Christine sing the role of Elissa was a nice moment I caught this time around as well.

Think of Me:
Kristi’s first line of the song literally could NOT be heard; which in this case, is a good thing. It was probably the only time I appreciated the new things they were doing with the sound in the Vegas production. Behind her, I spotted one of the Gollywogs look up and roll his eyes before turning his back on the audition and pull out a newspaper to read. A similar “really horrible American Idol audition” reaction was apparent in the majority of the characters that helped sell the situation, particularly when they react to Kristi’s voice blossoming at the end of the verse.

Kristi’s interpretation of the role has vastly improved since I first saw her several years ago. While still a “classic” Christine, her portrayal has been accented with little moments that make her more unique. ToM being the number whose primary use is to showcase the actress’s voice, Kristi’s sounded just as lovely as always and she projected a vibrancy as the young ingénue that worked very well.

And not to exclude the gents in the box, John Leslie Wolfe’s Andre looked very pleased by Christine’s performance and Andrew Ragone’s Raoul sang his “she may not remember me” line with a great deal of warmth.

Angel of Music:
I liked the transformation from hopeful anticipation to “Oh no, we’re in deep s#!% now…” the ballerinas had on their faces when Tina Walsh’s Mme Giry gave them her opinion of their performance.

Brianne and Kristi sounded absolutely sublime in this scene. I really loved how their voices sounded together. Did I mention how Brianne’s vocals just get better and better with each performance?

Oh, and I also like how Tina pauses and turns her head slightly to eavesdrop on Christine as she reads Raoul’s note in a very Frau Blücher sort of way.

Little Lotte/The Mirror:
I think Kristi is the only Christine that acts shocked and alarmed that a strange man just barged into her dressing room uninvited and I think that’s just darn adorable. It also serves to highlight her enthusiastic embrace with said strange man all the more.

Anthony’s voice really boomed throughout the auditorium, giving it an otherworldly quality that I think has been missing in other productions wherein the Phantom’s voiceover sounds just like his “regular” voice only disembodied. Kristi added to the acting in her response, a more heartfelt apologetic quality to the delivery.

Phantom of the Opera:
I’m liking what the Phantom and Christine doubles are doing nowadays as they come down the travelator. They’re a little more active, pausing, splitting up, coming back together, etc. And the Christine double makes a distinct shift in body language when the Phantom sings, “My power over you grows stronger yet,” going from self-aware to hypnotized in a Mary Philbin sort of way.

Not as much fog this time, which made it easier to see the boat come on and how high Kristi sits up front. I think she was sitting as far forward on that thing as you can without doing a “Kate Winslet on the bow of the Titanic.” And speaking of Kristi, during her vocal acrobatics at the end of the song, the aural difference between her singing with her back to the audience and facing the audience was very distinct. I don’t think I’d ever actually noticed it until this trip.

And yay for the guy sitting next to me finally paying attention to the show for once!

Anthony did a great job with the transition. It still had the rough quality that just comes with his voice, but it would ebb and flow in accordance to the lyric. His pacing was also spot on, savoring the notes and the moments between them rather than just going through them.

Music of the Night:
As I said in my previous review, his portrayal has softened from the early part of the run, but now it’s got a nice sort of balance between the edgy early stuff and the classic romantic stuff. The Crawford-esque grand arm movements were there, layered over his usual self-confident interpretation of the character, and that night he was really into sustaining the final note in the third verse.

Kristi walked the line between the self-aware and catatonic well, and it was nice to see that unlike the early Vegas Christines who walked briskly to their next mark after the “Is that a tuba in your trousers or are you just happy to see me?” portcullis moment, they now do the slow run that is more commonly seen in the other productions – all the better to give the dressing gown the opportunity to split open to show off Christine’s legs. Yeah! Vegas baby!

Okay, time to quibble a bit. Anthony still tends to sing this portion of the song more in the direction of the audience rather than Christine that I always find off-putting. And while I liked the breathy sigh Kristi gave when she and Anthony struck the signature MotN pose, I still can’t figure out why she insists on wiggling her fingers as she raises her hand up to touch the Phantom’s mask. Anthony also didn’t sustain the “power of the music of the night” line when he whipped the dustcover off the mirror (guess I’m just spoiled by Crawford), and he got up pretty early from kneeling next to Christine for the conclusion of the song. For me, when the Phantom stays down close to her until the very last moment, it gives a feeling of a greater emotional connection between the two. But you now how picky I can be.

Nit-picking aside, Anthony did a great job with the song and the applause was well-deserved.

Stranger than You Dreamt It:
Kristi continued her Virtuous!FantineChristine interpretation when she conveyed a sense of alarm when she remembered “there was a man…” I’m still waiting for a Christine to follow that line up by mirroring Audrey Hepburn’s “am I still wearing all my clothes?” pantomime from “Roman Holiday.” Alas, I think I’ll be waiting for a long time to come.

I think Anthony seems far too in control after the first unmasking. He doesn’t lunge after Christine or stumble around like others have. It seems to me that this extreme violation should set him off to extremes that would give Christine every reason to fear him. Instead, he just seemed really, really angry. He doesn’t even make much of an attempt to cover his disfigurement. The first few rows of the left orchestra probably got a really good look at it throughout the scene. His “secretly, secretly…” as he crawls towards Christine was nicely crushed, though.

Notes/Prima Donna:
There was a rapid set change from The Next Morning to The Manager’s Office. The Lair set was partially visible sliding offstage as John and Lawson Skala proceeded into Notes I. I don’t recall it being that visible in the past, but I might just be misremembering.

Oh, this might be a new line reading, but Lawson really emphasized the word “money” in “In addition, he wants money!” which aided in letting everyone know where his character’s priorities were.

Strange as it may sound, I typically don’t pay attention to Carlotta in this scene (my attention is usually diverted elsewhere), but Arsenia really added to this scene in how she played her part: starting off not convinced of the managers’ sincerity but slowly coming around as they fed her ego. Sure, that’s the whole point, but you could really see the emotions playing across her face as she pondered every line they sang. And the interplay between her and Larry Wayne Morbitt’s Piangi as he comforted her felt very genuine.

Il Muto:
I gotta say that Kristi has raised the bar for the Serafimo role. Not only did she do a 5-star Serafimo ass volcano, but she preceded it with plenty of hip shimmies and wiggles while smoothing the bed sheets down. Shake it Vegas-style baby! Woohoo!

And in news that doesn’t make me sound like a pig, I loved how Arsenia said, “your part is silent!” through her teeth at Christine. And hey, look at the audience members craning their heads around trying to figure out where the Phantom’s voice is coming from. We have trained you well, Saturday night audience ☺

The Il Muto ballet was nice (and John’s whimpering intro got plenty of chuckles), but after attending the Hope 3 concert earlier that day, I came to realize how underutilized the dancers are in the show itself. The physical feats these folks are capable of are staggering and the way they make it look practically effortless is absolutely awe-inspiring. So I really have to give them credit for their skills.

Also of note here is one of the ballerinas (I believe it was Jordan Ashley) who is so completely befuddled by the silhouette of the Phantom pantomiming hanging by a noose that she is completely thrown off the choreography for a few steps and has to swiftly catch up to the rest of the dancers. It’s big and broad, but it still works well.

All I Ask of You/Reprise:
Kristi and Andrew always sound great together and they have wonderful chemistry, particularly in this scene. The sound was highly manipulated again that evening (hopefully that addition won’t be around for long), so that detracted from my overall enjoyment of the number. However, it might have been my imagination, but after the second kiss -- you know, the part where both Raoul and Christine sing at the top of their lungs for a half a line -- I could have sworn some of the window lights in the backdrop came on that were out since the beginning of the scene. It was as if some Parisian residents were wondering what the hell all that racket coming from the Opera was.

But the topper of the scene for me had to do with the middle-aged couple sitting to my left that evening. As Kristi and Andrew sang the last line of the duet, I spotted out of the corner of my eye the gentleman reaching over to hold his wife’s hand.

Let’s see anything in LND try to match that!

More to come...

R.

_________________
Proud former member of TMCPMC
Keeper of Brianne Morgan's Masquerade hip-swish
www.phantoonsoftheopera.com

Raphael

Posts : 1046
Join date : 2009-09-22
Location : San Francisco Bay Area

View user profile http://www.phantoonsoftheopera.com

Back to top Go down

Re: Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Crivello/Holden/Ragone - 28 September 2010 7pm and 9:30pm: The “Poppin’ Phantom Cherries Left and Right” Edition

Post  Raphael on Mon Sep 06, 2010 9:10 pm

Masquerade:
The Vegas production has apparently altered the choreography a bit so that when Christine brings up the “secret engagement,” the principal cast all turn in unison to look – in order to emphasize it more since it has the potential to slip right by audiences considering how quickly the scene flies by. In other firsts, I finally noticed the jester has a hump (“what hump?”) and when Red Death lunged at the fellow who masks his entrance at the top of the staircase, it totally looked like the poor guy pissed his pants in fright.

Red Death also appeared to stroke Christine’s hair just before taking the ring and ripping it off her neck. Nice!

Giry's Confession/Notes II/Twisted Every Way:
I liked how Tina Walsh seemed so desperate to get away from Raoul in this scene; constantly trying to yank free of his grasp throughout her entire confession. Other bits of note were how Kristi’s voice trembled as she sang “He kills without a thought” and overhearing Andrew’s non-line “I promise you will not be harmed!” to Christine as she runs off.

Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again/Wandering Child:
The first thing I noticed in this scene was the lighting on Kristi. The single light illuminating her from above reminded me of the scene in the 90s Chinese film, “The Phantom Lover” of that Christine character walking through the ruins of the snow-filled opera house auditorium while bathed in moonlight. It had a very haunting quality to it.

Kristi did a great job with the song; mournful, loving and frustrated at turns. A couple of moments in the song she goes up to the mausoleum gate and holds it, her head bowed, which I think is a nice touch that looks more real and less like a pose than I’d seen before.

Andrew’s reaction to the first fireball shot at his back was pretty ballsy. He had a look of annoyance on his face like the Phantom had done nothing more dangerous than lob a spitball at him. Anthony’s “Don’t go!” was desperate, which I think I prefer to the arrogant line readings I sometimes hear. Still waiting for him to follow it up with: “I was gonna make espresso,” but again, probably gonna be waiting a long time for that one, too.

Mental note: bring marshmallows on sticks next time we’re sitting in the front row.

Before the Premiere:
Hey! Everything went off without a hitch! Except that Patrick Leveque popped up as the Marksman directly in front of phantomgirl110 and she nearly nearly passed out in phangirlish glee.

DJT/Point of No Return:
The DJT ensemble must change from time to time because I can never get a full count on the characters present. This time around I spotted the Innkeeper, two Spanish Ladies, two monks, three pages, and that other fella in the big hat. But isn’t there supposed to be THREE Spanish Ladies and a pipe smoker too?

Apple Porn Checklist:
  • Rub on inner thigh? Check.
  • Slide along cheek and down throat? Check and check.
  • Teasingly hold out for Don Juan? Check (and subtextually check).
  • Vegas double down chest? Check and hit me again.
  • Rub on shoulder and attempt to bite? Check and cigarette.

I think Kristi has to come up with a better way to get back to her mark for the ring/second unmasking moment, because slowly walking backwards just seems weird. On a better note, I like how roughly Anthony put the ring on Kristi’s finger and how he moved in very close to her, starting to put his hands on her waist when she suddenly reached up and yanked his mask and wig off. It was a very convincing and in-character way to get them close enough for her to do that.

Down Once More/Track Down This Murderer:
I like how Anthony sings “hounded out by everyone / met with hatred everywhere” through gritted teeth as if he’s confessing something he really doesn’t want to. Still don’t like how his lines have been cut down in this scene, though.

Yay for the Raoul jump working tonight!

Final Lair:
Anthony did the incoherent noises in the first few moments of the Final Lair again, but I quickly forgot all about it with Kristi’s more newly-assertive Christine. That, and Sam Fleming’s aptly-titled “cleavage shot” – eyeline straight down the middle, baby! I LOVE VEGAS!!!!

Anyway, Kristi struck a balance between the softness of classic Christine and the assertiveness of contemporary Christines in recent years. Her line reading for “Am I now to be prey for your lust for flesh?” was very angry and her reaction to the Phantom’s response about the “joys of the flesh” projected a distinct “don’t you DARE touch me!/come any closer and I’ll make you a castrato” vibe.

“This face, the infection which poisons our love”: I’ve heard this line delivered probably a half dozen different ways over the years. Typically, it’s sung in a pitying, sorrowful manner that elicits a sympathetic expression from Christine. But as I recall from this performance, Kristi turned her back on the Phantom before he finished the line and maintained a standoffish demeanor that caused Anthony to finish the lyric in a stronger, less self-pitying way.

Once Raoul arrived on the shore of the lake, Anthony’s Phantom was pure bitterness and sarcasm. His signature courtesy is still there, and his mocking expressions as he sat on the throne listening to Raoul’s protestations from behind the portcullis were nicely done. I kinda wish Andrew would adopt Ryan Silverman’s impassioned portcullis rant to give him a stronger presence as he enters the scene (it’s amazing how something as simple as slamming your palm against the portcullis to accent a single line can raise the intensity several notches).

When Christine confronts the Phantom with her line, “Angel of Music, you deceived me!” it’s quite accusatory in the way Kristi sang it – a far cry from her passive Christine of several years ago. And her lines leading up to the kiss were the highlight of her performance. A significant pause between Anthony’s “Make your choice!” and her response cemented the tension of the moment, and she sang each word with great emotion and clarity of what was going on in Christine’s mind as she found it in her heart to show this man who had manipulated her life and threatened all that she loved a moment of compassion. It was a brilliant climax to the scene.

Anthony was no slouch post-kiss, either. He wasn’t over-the-top during the kiss, and the rest of his performance was rather subdued compared to previous times I’d seen him. Okay, so the “bent over like he just dropped the soap” pose at the organ once he freed Raoul from the cage can probably go, but otherwise, quite good. His voice was full of emotion as he sang to the monkey music box (“—so the world—” coming out almost like a sob), and while he nearly did a header into the stage when he fell to all fours next to the monkey, his hopeful expression when he saw Christine standing before him was a nice recovery. Once she left, he simply stood there with the ring. Silent, unmoving, as if his soul was completely numb. Only after he picked up the veil did his sorrow break through and after watching the two young lovers sail off into the distance, his voice rang out with a finality that shook the entire auditorium (with the help of the sound guys, again).

Swiftly moving to the throne, he threw his cloak over himself and a moment later, Brianne pulled it away (but it looked like it caught on the seat) and lifted the mask up to end the show.

R.

_________________
Proud former member of TMCPMC
Keeper of Brianne Morgan's Masquerade hip-swish
www.phantoonsoftheopera.com

Raphael

Posts : 1046
Join date : 2009-09-22
Location : San Francisco Bay Area

View user profile http://www.phantoonsoftheopera.com

Back to top Go down

Re: Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Crivello/Holden/Ragone - 28 September 2010 7pm and 9:30pm: The “Poppin’ Phantom Cherries Left and Right” Edition

Post  operafantomet on Tue Sep 07, 2010 6:49 am

Raphael, I really love your reviews. Just so you know!

_________________
JOSEFINE TO THE PHANTOM:
You come off as... somewhat... rough...

operafantomet

Posts : 3600
Join date : 2009-09-21
Age : 37
Location : Norway

View user profile http://www.anea.no

Back to top Go down

Re: Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Crivello/Holden/Ragone - 28 September 2010 7pm and 9:30pm: The “Poppin’ Phantom Cherries Left and Right” Edition

Post  Raphael on Wed Sep 08, 2010 1:43 am

Thanks Anéa Smile These most recent ones aren't my best work - more or less basic transcribing of my notes rather than something with more of a narrative or focal point to center everything around. I'll try to do better next time!

R.

_________________
Proud former member of TMCPMC
Keeper of Brianne Morgan's Masquerade hip-swish
www.phantoonsoftheopera.com

Raphael

Posts : 1046
Join date : 2009-09-22
Location : San Francisco Bay Area

View user profile http://www.phantoonsoftheopera.com

Back to top Go down

Re: Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Crivello/Holden/Ragone - 28 September 2010 7pm and 9:30pm: The “Poppin’ Phantom Cherries Left and Right” Edition

Post  operafantomet on Wed Sep 08, 2010 5:44 am

Raphael wrote:Thanks Anéa Smile These most recent ones aren't my best work - more or less basic transcribing of my notes rather than something with more of a narrative or focal point to center everything around.
You know, that can be lots of fun too... Laughing

_________________
JOSEFINE TO THE PHANTOM:
You come off as... somewhat... rough...

operafantomet

Posts : 3600
Join date : 2009-09-21
Age : 37
Location : Norway

View user profile http://www.anea.no

Back to top Go down

Re: Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Crivello/Holden/Ragone - 28 September 2010 7pm and 9:30pm: The “Poppin’ Phantom Cherries Left and Right” Edition

Post  Sponsored content Today at 1:48 pm


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum