Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Bourg (u/s)/Hertzenberg (alt)/Ragone - 13 April 2012: The “Andy Squealed Like a Little Girl When We Saw the Cast Board” Edition.

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Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Bourg (u/s)/Hertzenberg (alt)/Ragone - 13 April 2012: The “Andy Squealed Like a Little Girl When We Saw the Cast Board” Edition.

Post  Raphael on Fri Jun 01, 2012 2:16 am

PLV Bourg (u/s)/Hertzenberg (alt)/Ragone - 13 April 2012: The “Andy Squealed Like a Little Girl When We Saw the Cast Board” Edition.

This birthday weekend trip (shared with fellow phans Kathryn and Andy) was filled with firsts. The first time I’d seen understudy Benjamin Hale as Raoul (the previous evening), understudy and old-school Phantom Ian Jon Bourg in the title role, and the first time I’d been late to the show.

That’s right, I had to do the Walk of Shame. And it was a long one too, since although we were sitting in the front row, the usher had all latecomers go to the very back of the auditorium and wait for an usher to escort them to their seats. On the plus side, I got to see Maria do her dance without having to turn around in my chair. And yes, the cast CAN see you when you come in late.

May that be a lesson to you all: get to the theatre early or pick up your tickets in advance. Because you never know when the box office will decide to combine the ticket and will-call lines into one.

Another word of advice: when you go to the show, always bring a class of high school kids with you. Their sheer enthusiasm throughout the evening really charged up the rest of the audience and you could feel the energy come back from the cast.

Oh, and seeing my friend Andy (whose birthday actually fell on that day) jump up and down whilst squealing like a little schoolgirl when he saw Ian Jon Bourg’s name on the cast change board made my weekend.

Prologue:
I was glad to be in our seats with plenty of time to spare after the fiasco the previous evening. And I was surprised to see Andrew Ragone onstage since we had his understudy the previous night and I had assumed he had been ill.

Overture:
As I said previously, we were treated to a VERY enthusiastic audience that night, and even if the chandelier dance isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, the synergy of the movement, the lighting and the thunderous music always gives me a thrill. I doubt watching PotO anywhere else will give me that overwhelming immersive experience again.

Hannibal:
With an opening like that, the energy was high coming right out of the gate. Personally, I felt like the cast was delivering opening night or anniversary-event level performances. Principals and ensemble alike, everyone seemed on fire. And since über-Monkey Girl Marisa Paull was out, we were even treated to Dance Captain Courtney Combs who was covering Paull’s track that weekend. This was also the first time back that I’d gotten to see Ted Keegan back in the show (he’d stepped in for original Vegas Reyer Bruce Ewing who had left the show recently) Keegan’s Reyer shuts the libretto in Christine’s face much like Ewing used to, but not as abruptly and with a chillier air to him. Trust me, it’s awesome.

Of the usual suspects, I saw a great deal more acting coming from Joan Sobel this time around. While I think she makes a good Carlotta vocally, in my previous visits I’d felt she lacked in the acting department. But this time, it appeared she cranked up the acting dial from a 2 to an 11. A bit over-the-top (particularly later in “Notes/Prima Donna”)? Sure. But the role allows for some excess. But thankfully she wasn’t Minnie Driver excessive. I also liked the little character bits Larry Wayne Morbitt brought to his Piangi in how he adjusted his helmet and armor to appear more presentable to the new managers even if they didn’t pay attention to him for a second. He also really milked his exit and got a good laugh from the audience for it (throughout the show, it seemed the audience responded well to the humor).

And pardon me for asking, but does Vegas!Buquet have a mullet?

Think of Me:
This was only the second time I’d had the opportunity to see Kristen Hertzenberg. It was a great treat to see her in the role again after her medical scare last year, and thankfully her voice still sounded as fantastic as before. Though classically trained, I’ve always felt there was something a little contemporary in her interpretation of the character. It’s elusive, and I still can’t quite put my finger on what it is – something in how she sings the songs, or in her portrayal of the character – there’s some element to her Christine that feels out of time with the period. And perhaps that’s to her credit since Christine is supposed to be special and unique as to be singled out by the Phantom to give voice to his music.

Another great “miss-it-if-you’re-not-paying-attention” moment was Madame Firmin covering her face with her fan as if embarrassed by Raoul’s outburst of applause in the middle of Christine’s aria.

Angel of Music:
In the reverse tabs opening, I noticed Keegan in the prompter’s box waving his arm impatiently to get the ballerinas to move behind the curtain and then gesturing for Christine to step forward – entirely believable and great little moment I’ve never paid attention to until now.

Brianne Morgan and Hertzenberg’s AoM duet was lovely and their voices play well off each other. I liked Brianne’s giggle during opening moments and in my opinion she continues to be the best Meg in any production current or previous by giving her character personality and establishing relationships with the characters she interacts with – making the most of her time onstage rather than serving as a cipher for propelling the plot forward.

I enjoyed how Hertzenberg played Christine as torn about revealing the truth about her teacher to Meg. Typically Christines seem hesitant, not genuinely conflicted. And considering how much of a fuss she gives Raoul in the next scene about the Angel of Music, it makes sense that she might be as secretive about it with everyone else, too.

Little Lotte/The Mirror:
One of Hertzenberg’s signature features of her Christine is the rapturous expression that comes over her whenever she hears the voice of the Angel of Music. The devotion in that look establishes the relationship between heavenly teacher and earthly student and that carried over from the previous scene. Hertzenberg and Ragone have great chemistry in this scene (actually, Ragone has had great chemistry with every Christine I’ve seen him play opposite), so the soon-to-be blossoming romance between the two is nicely set up here.

Phantom of the Opera:
The mist smelled kinda funny. Better check the freshness date on that can.

Bourg had very imposing presence – tall, large man, similar to a Brad Little or John Owen-Jones at a glance. But I do have to admit that his voice surprised me. Having a couple of his German-language PotO singles from iTunes, I had expected his voice to be of a naturally deeper register that it turned out to be. Not to say that I didn’t like it, just that I was taken by surprise. He also wins the prize for most realistic poling of the boat across the lake. He even gestured for the boat to move off into position after disembarking, an extra bit of business I don’t often see.

Music of the Night:
Bourg’s Phantom is a maestro of music. Another old-school Phantom, he gestured a great deal with his hands, but it was slightly different than the usual flourishes you see. In this case, it felt to me like he was a conductor – the movements more contained, drawing out the music permeating the air and really savoring the lyrics (the show in general felt like it was taking its time and not trying to pack as much as it could into its 95-minute running time). And he also seemed obsessed with Christine’s hair. He was constantly running his hands around her head that I thought any second he was going to pull out some banana clips and a can of Aquanet. The amount of time he did spend lingering in her immediate vicinity did enhance the intimacy of the scene, though.

Stranger than You Dreamt It:
Bourg had his highs and lows in this scene. While he was very energetic at the organ (stabbing at the keys in a highly exaggerated fashion for those last seven notes), his “Damn you! Curse you!” was considerably subdued. But a nice standout moment for me was his “Oh, Christine”, delivered as if he was ashamed of himself because of his appearance. And when she returned his mask, he did not resume that instant confidence once the mask was back on, instead reached his hand out with tenderness to touch Christine and then catching himself; choosing to take her back above. I’ve always liked that moment of humanity/vulnerability before his “Phantom” demeanor returns, so it was good to see it again.

Notes/Prima Donna:
Like I said previously, Sobel really cranked up the acting this time around. Maybe a bit too much since it teetered precariously on the edge of parody, but she was more engaging in the role this time around – it felt like she was actually having fun with the part.

Il Muto:
Wow, Brianne’s “(shriek) He’s there! The Phantom of the Opera!” was so loud I nearly jumped out of my seat.

There’s also something very cute in how Nicole Pryor, Patrick Leveque, and Ted Keegan open the scene as the Countess’ entourage. They’re just very adorable as they gossip amongst themselves.

There seemed to be LOTS of extra characters onstage when the Phantom hung from the chandelier – even ballerinas who were already dressed for the impromptu ballet André insists be pushed up from Act… um… Three! I don’t recall them ever being out there before, but that’s probably just another example of me not taking in the whole scene at that moment. I also noticed another stagehand up in the flies trying to grab the rope that had hung his poor co-worker. Nice touch.

Oh, and since the stagehand that is hung isn’t dressed like and doesn’t look anything like Buquet, does that mean in the Vegas version Buquet survives?

All I Ask of You/Reprise:
I don’t see how people can’t love this scene and this song. Sure, you could play mix and match with the lyrics and no one would probably notice the difference, but it’s a beautiful melody and THE big love duet of the show. Plus when Ragone sings it’s like being wrapped in a warm blanket.

End part one.

R.

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Re: Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Bourg (u/s)/Hertzenberg (alt)/Ragone - 13 April 2012: The “Andy Squealed Like a Little Girl When We Saw the Cast Board” Edition.

Post  wys on Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:17 am

Oh, how wonderful that you got to see Ian! He is my favorite Phantom that I've ever seen live (I was fortunate to see him on the tour as well as in Vegas). I love you I squealed like a little girl when I saw the board too. Very Happy I've never seen Kristin as Christine; hopefully I'll have the chance when I go to Vegas in August.

Looking forward to reading part two!

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Re: Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Bourg (u/s)/Hertzenberg (alt)/Ragone - 13 April 2012: The “Andy Squealed Like a Little Girl When We Saw the Cast Board” Edition.

Post  PhantomSculptor on Sat Jun 02, 2012 8:55 pm


Some great firsts this time - well, except for being late....but hey, it happens.

As always, I love the attention to detail, and humor in your writing. Very Happy Your well articulated reviews always impress me - and make me wish *I* could remember that much from each show I attend without writing notes the entire time!

Enjoyed part one and am looking forward to part two!

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Re: Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Bourg (u/s)/Hertzenberg (alt)/Ragone - 13 April 2012: The “Andy Squealed Like a Little Girl When We Saw the Cast Board” Edition.

Post  Raphael on Fri Jun 08, 2012 5:17 am

Masquerade:
The Opera House façade got a round applause from those totally awesome school kids back in the mezzanine.

Ragone played frustrated confusion when Christine insisted on keeping their engagement a secret. It’s probably my least favorite part of his portrayal (it’ll take just a nudge in the wrong direction and suddenly he’s Hadley Fraser) but a necessary and logical element to make Raoul less of a pushover. Thankfully, the moment is brief.

Giry's Confession/Notes II/Twisted Every Way:
Ragone nearly took a tumble on the steps as he returned to the stage, but he recovered gracefully and continued on with the scene. I sympathize – I’ve tripped on those steps several times after the show, myself.

Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again/Wandering Child:
Hertzenberg did a great job here, portraying Christine like a lost, lonely child and very vulnerable to the Phantom’s machinations. And while there was conflict in her when the Phantom appeared, that signature expression came over her face and she, almost enthusiastically, fell back under his spell.

Point of No Return:
More hands, less apple!porn this time around. Guess you can’t win them all. But Meg now has extensions, so the hotness factor balanced out.

The Don Juan sequence has so many plot holes that I’ve started referring to it as the “Swiss Cheese Scene.” So when my attention isn’t diverted by fruit-related activities (and it rarely has reason to be in Vegas), I try to see what the actors are doing in order to gloss over or patch these issues. In this case, I focused on the managers and how they basically leave Christine onstage after the trap has sprung. I was pleased that as Skala walked back into the wings, he put his hand over his eyes as if ashamed that they were forcing Christine to stay onstage with the Phantom even though they apparently had succeeded in trapping him. It may not explain why they’re doing it, but at least we know he feels bad about it.

Down Once More/Track Down This Murderer:
Hallelujah for a Christine that doesn’t just sit in the boat like a dead fish! Hertzenberg speaks not a word in this short scene, but expresses her character’s utter despair at her circumstances through facial expression and body language. And when the mob’s verse began, she lifted her head with a look of faint hope. Very nicely done.

Final Lair:
Overall, the Final Lair was full of raw emotion and as a result, a very powerful scene. Bourg, Hertzenberg, and Ragone delivered in spades here. There was an almost lascivious eagerness to Bourg’s line delivery of “joys of the flesh” and a crushed reaction to Hertzenberg’s “tears of hate” as he stood at the organ. His “Make your choice”, by contrast, was spoken in a very neutral manner, neither angry or tearful – not as if he didn’t care about the answer, but more like the Phantom was dead to being moved by any pleading Christine might try.

Hertzenberg was given a nice long pause after Bourg’s line to portray the heavy decision Christine was contemplating (and I like that the Vegas actresses are given this moment. In other productions it almost seems rushed). Bourg’s reaction to the kiss was uncertainty - almost an inability to believe what just happened – and a trepidation as he moved his arms to embrace her.

One of my biggest pet peeves about the Wolverine “Snikt!” Cage is that all that post-kiss tension of “what’s the Phantom gonna do?” is lost without the sheer physical vulnerability afforded by the Punjab lasso scenario. Usually the Phantom just stumbles over, waves his hand meekly to lower the cage, is caught by surprise when the spikes retract, then pauses and waves again to release Raoul entirely. VERY little tension there, in my opinion. Except this time.

Somehow, Bourg convinced me that in that split-second before he freed Raoul, there was still a threat, that he was still capable of doing something to his rival in that moment, even if he was several feet away from him and wasn’t armed with a lit candle. I’m not exactly sure how he did it, since I don’t recall him diverging from the original choreography, so maybe it was something in his timing or body language. Regardless, the menace was there and it was welcome.

After freeing Raoul, Bourg’s Phantom seemed to mutter his lines more to himself than to Raoul and Christine, up to the point when he had to raise his voice and chase them out of the Lair. In doing so, he evoked a feeling that the character’s world was collapsing in on itself and that the Phantom was so overwhelmed that he was practically numb. Upon Christine’s return of his ring, Bourg stepped in to kiss her hand but she stepped back and in doing so freed her hand from his, paused for a moment, then turned and fled from the room. Bourg then closed the show with his final lines, delivering them in a manner that said the Phantom was drained and turning his back on everything – that this was truly the end of the Ghost’s love story.

In closing, the Las Vegas cast is still in top form and being treated to actors I rarely or haven’t seen before makes it feel like I’m seeing the show for the first time.

And next time I’ll be sure to bring an entire graduating class to the show.

R.

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Re: Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Bourg (u/s)/Hertzenberg (alt)/Ragone - 13 April 2012: The “Andy Squealed Like a Little Girl When We Saw the Cast Board” Edition.

Post  operafantomet on Fri Jun 08, 2012 7:11 am

*applauding wildly*

That's all.

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Re: Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Bourg (u/s)/Hertzenberg (alt)/Ragone - 13 April 2012: The “Andy Squealed Like a Little Girl When We Saw the Cast Board” Edition.

Post  LadyCDaae on Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:43 pm

Somehow, Bourg convinced me that in that split-second before he freed Raoul, there was still a threat, that he was still capable of doing something to his rival in that moment, even if he was several feet away from him and wasn’t armed with a lit candle. I’m not exactly sure how he did it, since I don’t recall him diverging from the original choreography, so maybe it was something in his timing or body language. Regardless, the menace was there and it was welcome.

See, I tend to think the candle thing has a tendency to not come off as threatening as it's supposed to--what's the Phantom going to do to Raoul, drip hot wax on him? (Okay, he could burn up Raoul's face if he were in a particularly sadistic mood, but still.) I think it'd be kind of neat if he pulled a knife out and cut Raoul down...

~LCD

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Re: Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Bourg (u/s)/Hertzenberg (alt)/Ragone - 13 April 2012: The “Andy Squealed Like a Little Girl When We Saw the Cast Board” Edition.

Post  Raphael on Sun Jun 10, 2012 3:08 pm

I think it depends on how the actors play it. You're right, there's not much harm the Phantom could do to Raoul with a candle when you think about it, but they are readily available in the set whereas you'd have to establish the knife before introducing it since there's no reason for it being there otherwise. It really works best when the Christine sells the threat instead of just standing there watching.

R.

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Re: Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Bourg (u/s)/Hertzenberg (alt)/Ragone - 13 April 2012: The “Andy Squealed Like a Little Girl When We Saw the Cast Board” Edition.

Post  LadyCDaae on Sun Jun 10, 2012 3:25 pm

Good point--although it seems like the sort of thing the Phantom would just have on his person (yeah he prefers strangulation for an MO, but sometimes you need to choose speed over finesse). Chekhov would probably roll in his grave, though...

It does depend a lot on how Christine (and Raoul) react--if they don't sell the "he wouldn't really do it, would he?" tension of the moment, it's not going to come across no matter what the instrument of the threat is.

~LCD

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Re: Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Bourg (u/s)/Hertzenberg (alt)/Ragone - 13 April 2012: The “Andy Squealed Like a Little Girl When We Saw the Cast Board” Edition.

Post  musicalfan on Wed Jun 13, 2012 6:16 pm

Thank's a lot for the long review!
Ian Jon Bourg is also my favourite phantom. He is an amazing actor and a great singer. Are there any photos from him in Las Vegas? Thanks in advance.
Many greetings! Very Happy

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Re: Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Bourg (u/s)/Hertzenberg (alt)/Ragone - 13 April 2012: The “Andy Squealed Like a Little Girl When We Saw the Cast Board” Edition.

Post  Raphael on Thu Jun 14, 2012 12:41 pm

This is actually one of my shorter reviews Laughing

No photos of him from Las Vegas, unfortunately. As understudy, I don't think he's gotten any pics in costume outside of candids backstage, perhaps.

R.

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Re: Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Bourg (u/s)/Hertzenberg (alt)/Ragone - 13 April 2012: The “Andy Squealed Like a Little Girl When We Saw the Cast Board” Edition.

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