Broadway, Wed. 7/27 matinee, backstage visit with Hugh Panaro

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Broadway, Wed. 7/27 matinee, backstage visit with Hugh Panaro

Post  SenorSwanky on Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:24 am

This review is a long time in coming. I'm not one to write long-winded, exhaustive, scene-by-scene reviews. I just don't have the memory or attention to detail for that. So I'll just give some general impressions about the cast and the state of the show.

I will say this performance was not as good as the one I saw in 2005. Not quite the energy there. That one was filled with understudies though, and that'll often give the show a fresher dynamic. This time, there were no listed or announced understudies, though I swear it was not Marilyn Caskey as Mme. Giry. I had a feeling it was Satomi Hoffman. It was definitely someone younger than Caskey. It was also obviously a two-show day, and I felt some of the performers were holding back for the evening performance a little.

I can definitely see the need for new managers. As much as I love George Lee Andrews' Andre (probably the best in terms of acting I've ever seen), his performance does come across as a little rote these days, and both he and Cryer's voices are getting a little thin.

I kind of liked John Keuther as the Auctioneer (maybe a little over-the-top and slow in his delivery for my taste, but nice, melifluous voice), but not so much as Don Attilio. The gold standard in that role for me is Gregory Emanuel Rahming, who I saw the last two times I saw the show, once on Broadway and once on tour. Keuther doesn't hold out that "herrrrrrr" and milk it for comic value.

I saw Kimilee Bryant as Carlotta, and she was very good both vocally and acting-wise. She was technically not an understudy because she and Janet Saia and Satomi Hoffman were listed as alternating certain performances. Evan Harrington was a pretty decent Piangi, though not as good as David Gaschen, who was understudying the role when I last saw the show there.

I was disappointed when I read that Sean MacLaughlin was leaving the show because not only was he the best Raoul I'd seen live, but he gave me a great backstage tour when I last saw the show in Durham in 2009. (More on my backstage experience later.) But Kyle Barisich was a very good Raoul, almost as good as MacLaughlin. Very nice high baritone/low tenor voice and pretty good acting. Maybe a little stuffy at times, but probably the second best I've seen after MacLaughlin, and preferable to Tim Martin Gleason, who I saw twice. I don't remember my first Raoul, John Schroeder.

Sara Jean Ford had the best Wishing I'd seen live. Really powerful voice at times, and good acting throughout.

Last but not least, most people know I'm not a huge fan of Hugh's Phantom. Very talented performer, but his interpretation of the role isn't my cup of tea in most parts. I have always loved his delivery of the final line, however, because he has an amazing voice, so I almost started applause as he sulked to the throne to disappear. And his Mirror scene was very good in this performance. That and the Final Lair are the two most important scenes for me in terms of judging Phantoms. Pretty nice, tender "Say you'll share..." after PONR too.

I will say that I really appreciate Hugh taking the time to talk with me for a few minutes after the show, and thanks most of all to Paula for arranging it. We all know Hugh isn't the most technologically savvy guy, so it was no surprise he admitted he hadn't gotten Paula's email asking if he could give me a tour. So Paula suggested I leave a note before the show, reminding him. He was glad I had because he said he might've been in the shower or taking a nap if I hadn't. Sure enough, he was in his robe, getting ready to shower and then nap when I reached his makeup room. We talked for a few minutes, and he gave me a signed organ shot from his previous run in the show. I told him I was expecting him to be in makeup because I thought they still kept the deformity on between shows. I didn't get to take a picture with him and didn't think to take any inside or outside the theater, and I also forgot to show Hugh the 1992 Playbill I'd brought with me from when my grandparents saw him as Raoul. He had a mullet in his headshot. Laughing It lasted only a few minutes, but it was a cool and kind of surreal experience to go backstage and finally meet this guy I'd known of since I was 7 years old.

Might have more thoughts later, but that's it for now.


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