US Tour Matinee, SF -- Jan. 3, 2009 (Cudia/Grant/Barisich)

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US Tour Matinee, SF -- Jan. 3, 2009 (Cudia/Grant/Barisich)

Post  IamErik771 on Mon Sep 28, 2009 4:35 pm

An oldie but a goodie that I've rescued copied from POL . . . I've made a couple minor edits (to protect the innocent?), but the meat of these posts remains essentially the same.

Before I start my official review of the show, I think I'll briefly mention some of the other Phantom-related experiences I had in the Bay Area. I was there from December 30th (2008) to January 4th (the following year), and it was my first real trip there -- I'm told I went with my family when I was 3, but I remember none of that.

So anyway, before going to the show, I spent a couple nights staying with Jeff, our very own Count-Alexiel-Ravenswood! He showed me his vast collection of cast albums, souvenier programs, and other goodies, and I finally got to hear versions I was curious about, including the Swedish and Mexican casts. (Both kicked major arse, I might add, and I'm irrevocably hooked on Elisabeth Berg's Christine. Very Happy) Through the magic of "unmentionables," we were able to discover a few things about various international productions. For example, the Japanese casts had used completely pre-recorded orchestra tracks until fairly recently, and they had the Phantom perched on a Pegasus instead of an angel statue; also, the Madrid production also had a gollywog in the "Hannibal" scene. I also e-mailed D.C. Anderson to ask if my friends and I could get a backstage tour after the show, and he was happy to oblige.

On the day I was to see the show, I was back at my hotel (the Clarion, right near SFO), and got in touch with the two friends I was going with. One of them is a Phan some of you may remember as Zelda de le Fantôme on PFN/MFN, or Christine Daaé on The Phantom's Opera. I'll call her Zelda for this review, and our other companion was Marcus, who had never listened to the ALW show before but had read Leroux's novel. So it was really interesting to compare the perspectives of three first-timers, each with different pre-show experiences and degrees of Phandom.

Anywho, here begins the actual review:


The Phantom of the Opera
Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco
January 3, 2009 (Matinée)

The Phantom: John Cudia
Christine Daaé: Kelly Jeanne Grant
Raoul de Chagny: Kyle Barisich
Carlotta Giudicelli: Kim Stengel
Monsieur André: D.C. Anderson
Monsieur Firmin: Bruce Winant
Ubaldo Piangi: Jimmy Smagula
Madame Giry: Anne Kanengeiser
Meg Giry: Jessi Ehrlich
Joseph Buquet: Andrew Varela
Monsieur Reyer: Thomas Shumacher
Auctioneer: Michael McCoy (understudy)
Don Attilio: Gregory Emanuel Rahming
Passarino: Stephen Trafton

Pre-Show:

We planned to meet in front of the Orpheum at around 1:30 in the afternoon. Having been there the day before to try to pick up the tickets, we all knew which BART exit to take and all . . . so I figured, no problem. I hopped on BART at the airport around 12:30 . . . and kept running into delays. I got to the theatre around 1:40 (kicking myself all the way), and there was a huge crowd gathering in front of the ticket booth. No sign of Zelda and Marcus, though, and Zelda was the one holding the tickets.

So I waited . . . and waited . . . and finally, courtesy of Bay Area traffic, they arrived with barely two minutes to spare. Laughing (Yes, I can laugh about it now.) We rushed in, but I did take a couple of precious seconds to admire the interior of the theatre as we were heading to the auditorium -- it really is gorgeous, and I wish I had taken some pictures, at least during intermission. As we entered the auditorium, I finally took a look at my ticket and found that we had orchestra seats -- row Y, dead-center. Perfect. As the lights dimmed, Zelda and I silently grinned at each other. We had made it!

Prologue:

It began with that traditional 'click' of the gavel I had grown so accustomed to hearing on my set of speakers, and it felt a bit strange (but nonetheless thrilling) to finally be there seeing it for my first time. Michael McCoy's Auctioneer came across as very . . . I'm not sure how else to put this, but rather snooty-sounding. Not in a bad way, though, and not sounding like a forced French stereotype. He had a great, deep, commanding voice, but something about the way he said the lines struck me as "Eh, I've got better things I could be doing than sitting in this old Opera House selling knickknacks to these peons." On paper, it doesn't seem like an approach that would work so well, but it did (IMO), so I personally liked it. He also had a very believable French accent when he said "Vicomte de Chagny" and "Robert le Diable" -- not at all forced, which I loved.

Random audience laughter upon the reveal of the three human skulls . . . Not sure why that's so funny. There were also spots of laughter, though not quite as much, when they showed the monkey music box. Kyle Barisich as old!Raoul didn't seem that old and weary; his acting made the character seem at least ten years younger than anyone else on that stage, and his voice was a bit too light to mask that. Still nice to listen to, though.

The chandelier bit -- That was where our Auctioneer really seemed to liven up. It was either a "Great! They'll pay top-dollar . . . er, top-franc for this!" or a "Great! After this one, I can go home!" He seemed to treat the Phantom story with a bit of derision (I think most Auctioneers do), and had a brilliant finale to this scene. I loved this man in the role, and his "Gentlemen!" sealed it.

Overture:

BOOM. It was thrilling to be able to see Maria's ascent and hear that wonderful (synth) organ all around me. I also noticed the old, gray curtains giving way to the gorgeous sets beneath them, though I probably wouldn't have known or cared what they were if they hadn't stuck in my mind from other Phans' reviews. Seamless ascent and gorgeous full orchestra -- very well-balanced from where I was sitting, not too heavy or light on anything, be it brass or percussion. And in this scene, as well as the rest of the show, I got to hear some of the subtle orchestrations (particularly certain percussion) that tend to escape my notice (or perhaps just be plain inaudible) on most cast recordings.

Hannibal:

Ahh, Kim Stengel . . . How I worship thee. I remember someone behind me and to my right whispering "Wow" after the ending note of her cadenza . . . quite well-deserved, I'd say. Jimmy Smagula's Piangi was excellent, drew lots of audience laughter (and me among them), and had really nice interaction with Thomas Schumacher's Reyer. I loved how Jimmy imitated Thomas's manner of overemphasizing the "M" at the end of "Rome" -- "Ro-MMMM's far-reaching grasp! Tomorrow we shall break the chains of Ro-MMMM!" And when he ended with "Your army has come home-ah!" I could've sworn Thomas shot him a death glare. Laughing He didn't hold "home" (or "home-ah!") very long; I think he wanted to put more emphasis on the comedic aspect than Piangi's note-holding talents, which is certainly fine by me.

No idea who played Lefevre -- according to the Playbill, that was typically Michael McCoy's role, but since he was playing the Auctioneer, I'm not sure if he still ended up doing it. Story-wise, it could very well have made sense for the same person to play those roles . . . but thus far, I have no idea. Anywho, Lefevre was good -- nice chuckle from the audience on "If you need me, I shall be in Frankfurt." -- but André and Firmin got most of the good lines in that scene anyway. D.C. and Bruce were awesome, and I loved how they both added those little comedic touches -- D.C. groveling for Carlotta, and Bruce grabbing his arm as if to say, "What on earth do you think you're doing?!" I forgot to look for the gollywog, but as he was listed in the playbill, I assume he was there somewhere.

Think of Me:

Kim's "prep" moment before she started singing drew some nice audience laughter. It was pretty cool to see that she got to sing a bit more of the song than most recordings tend to feature. The chaos after the backdrop fell was really well-done, and Jessi Ehrlich's Meg was adorable.

Kelly Jeanne Grant made a great Christine . . . I loved how she didn't just jump from "hesitant mode" at the beginning to "confident mode" right when Mme. Giry prompts her. I like how Anne Kanengeiser kind of prompted the choreography in addition to the traditional "thump" of the staff.

Kelly was excellent for the whole scene -- gorgeous voice, wonderful performance of the scene . . . I could gush about her all day. But keep in mind that for most of the show, I was convinced I was seeing Trista Moldovan in the role!

Kyle's Raoul was good in this scene -- nice voice, and I liked how he didn't just suddenly and randomly shout "Bravo!" like some Raouls I've heard. I also really liked how the other people in his box were silently talking to each other -- it makes a lot more sense than just having them stare blankly ahead, oblivious to this aristocrat randomly singing during the middle of the new soprano's aria.

Kelly's cadenza and high C were gorgeous -- almost Lisa Vroman-like, and she got some thunderous (and very well-deserved) applause from the audience. There was a bit of a chuckling, though, when the "reverse tab" went into effect, and the canned applause from the stage was significantly quieter than the real applause had been.

Angel of Music:

John Cudia for the first time . . . well, his voice, anyway. Slight echo-effect used, but not so much that he'd sound distorted. Jessi's Meg was just plain adorable -- lovely voice, and the cutest Southern accent. (It may not be period-correct, but its cuteness can't be denied.) She played really well opposite Kelly's Christine, and they harmonized beautifully. Anne's Mme. Giry seemed to be waiting at the door for the whole final stanza before finally opening it, which amused me greatly.

Jessi said "Rehearsals, always rehearsals!" while leaving the room, but perhaps the sound technicians didn't expect her to -- her mic seemed to be off, so I think I only heard it because I knew what to listen for. Zelda and Marcus didn't notice it, so I told them during intermission.

Little Lotte / The Mirror:

Bruce's Firmin struck gold in this scene with his emphasis of "before." Tonna Miller (as Mme. Firmin) didn't really stand out, but then again, she only gets one word in the whole show . . . Can anyone stand out with so little stage time?

Kyle's Raoul, as Raphael noted in an earlier review, came across as formal to the point of stuffiness. His little chuckle seemed a tad . . . patronizing, almost? Kelly was great and really brought across Christine's emotionally scarred nature -- one of the more true-to-Leroux portrayals I've encountered in the musical. It seemed, though, that she ended up having to make the first move in all her interaction with Kyle.

John's real first appearance was nicely done, though I did miss the echo effect they used on the Phantom's voice in cast recordings (and even the movie). He had a great voice; not over-the-top on "Ignorant fool," like some Phantoms. It was a bit difficult to tell what Kelly was doing in the early half of the mirror scene, but when John appeared, she played it really realistically -- not overdone by any stretch, but genuinely ecstatic. I'm still not fond of them having Raoul saying "Christine? Angel?" at the end, though.

Phantom of the Opera:

Vegas track, ahoy! It's still a bit odd for me to hear the title song played this way (I think I could handle it if they'd just take out the "handclaps;" the guitar and percussion boost I can live with), but it worked well with John and Kelly's voices.

A question before I continue: At the very beginning of the song, did they have John and Kelly cross the stage, and then have doubles on the travelator? Or were they two sets of doubles? Either way, I had no idea that the Phantom and Christine crossed the stage at the beginning of the scene -- that was really cool, and a feature that doesn't come across in most "unmentionables." At intermission, Marcus mentioned that he saw the conductor struggling to shake the fog out of his face every now and then . . . so I thought, yeah, that must be a problem sometimes.

Back to the review . . . I think they may want to consider re-recording John's first verse here. His voice came across as much stronger in the "live" verse (and the rest of the show in general), so I don't think the track they used did him a whole lot of justice for his first full song.

Kelly was great all around, and had a gorgeous cadenza. She didn't touch her throat as I've been told some Christines do after the E, but still looked shocked at the notes she had just hit. John played the "sing for me" bits really gently, but still undoubtedly in control -- it worked really well, and fit the rest of his portrayal like a glove (or a fedora, perhaps). The organ-playing didn't seem particularly authentic or intense, though, and he didn't caress his "Don Juan" score during "My music..." like other Phantoms did.

Music of the Night:

John's voice was flawless in this scene -- very tender, passionate, and smooth, and gorgeous on the high notes. He played Erik as believably sensual and seductive, but not overtly or forcedly "sexy." Kelly looked truly entranced yet aware in some measure, underscoring my idea that this song is really a duet masquerading as a solo; only one person sings, but both have to be equally involved in the scene for it to work. I loved how John did the MC-esque "raise both hands, then cut off" on the "long to be," though. And the thigh-stroke during "savour each sensation" was quite nice, as well.

Another thing I adored: He CAUGHT Christine after the mirror bride bit! Well, to be more specific, he caught her and then let her down gently, rather than just letting her drop like most Phantoms outside of London tend to do. I really wish more Phantoms would do this -- true, not every actor would be capable of carrying a person to the boat bed, but John's way of doing it is so much better than just letting her fall.

I Remember / Stranger Than You Dreamt It:

I thought it was interesting that they started the organ solo bit before the lights came back on . . . and I loved how Kelly hit the "snooze button" on the monkey. Laughing John seemed to be totally absorbed in his work and didn't notice her reaching for his mask at all, which I liked. And then Kelly gave a great, frightened scream when the mask came off.

As Zelda put it after the show, John seemed to play the Phantom's "angry" scenes as more "adolescent rage" than the pure psychosis that actors like Kevin Gray or Ian Jon Bourg tended to display. His approach still worked really well -- very enraged and yet sympathetic, and Kelly seemed believably terrified. She played the moment of compassion at the end extremely well -- quite hesitant, still fearful, but understanding. Oh, and I love how John is one of the few American Phantoms who says "viper" rather than "vixen."

Magical Lasso:

Andrew Varela's Buquet was fantastic and just as I imagined the character should be -- fond of his ghost stories, but certainly not lecherous. Great screams from the ballet girls, almost edging into over-the-top territory. Anne was great; very authoritative.

Notes / Prima Donna:

Bruce and D.C. are possibly the greatest duo of American managers, period. Bruce's little arm-gesture (and repeat) on his grammatical gaffe was genius, and D.C.'s consistent kissing up to Kim and prompting Bruce to follow up were hilarious to watch. Loved how Anne kinda took a step back as everyone went for her note, and also the echo effect on John's voice and the cast's reactions to his note.

During the last two verses of "Prima Donna," I always tend to focus in on a specific melody or harmony line, so I didn't really notice whether or not the audio was muddled... but during the applause afterward, Zelda whispered to me, "I couldn't understand a word of that." XD

Il Muto:

I loved how Kelly did her featherdusting in time with Don Attillio's singing, and Gregory did do his über-long note, which I and the rest of the audience got a huge kick out of. I loved how he overplayed his sadness at finding out about the Countess's affair, and the apparent shock at finding out that the "maid" was really some rather effeminate dude. And Kim certainly owns the "croak" -- does any other Carlotta throw in an offstage croak?

Loved seeing John on the proscenium , though we weren't exactly in the best spot to see whether Maria was flickering or shaking. It was interesting that after Kim's first croak, he waited for the audience laughter to die down before throwing in his own evil laugh. The ballet/shadow play was nicely done, though I think they should probably have the hanged Buquet come down a bit lower so he'd be more visible.

Rooftop / All I Ask of You:

Somehow, I expected a bit more motion and climbing of staircases during the "Why have you brought us here" bit, but it still worked really well. Glorious MOTN section from Kelly -- loved that "soar!" Kyle was a bit wooden, though; I think the standard blocking for this scene saved his Raoul from seeming totally cold, though his voice was lovely. Kelly's fear-turned-romantic giddiness was great to watch, as well.

John's reprise was fantastic -- like most of my favourite Phantoms, he seemed to be in literal, physical agony when he heard Christine and Raoul resuming the song. He only whispered/wept "Christine" once, but 'twas still profound. And he delivered a powerful "You will curse..." and a great evil laugh. Due to where I was sitting, I think I missed about half of Maria's descent, but the part I saw didn't seem too slow or clunky. I was seeing stars after that last flash, though. Laughing

* * *

Intermission / Entr'acte:

After we left the auditorium, I noticed the souvenir stand and promptly headed there while Zelda and Marcus picked up coffee at the refreshment area. I got myself a T-shirt and souvenir programme. Again, I really regret not taking any photos of the inside of the Orpheum.

But I did check the board listing the names of everyone performing, just to find out for sure who was playing Christine. (I had spent all of Act I thinking it was Trista Moldovan.) Problem was, the board listed both Trista and Kelly. Also, unlike the board for the Lion King touring cast that came to Hawaii in '07, they didn't list actors by role -- just all the names in alphabetical order. So I was left more confused than before. Laughing

I must say, it's kind of refreshing to be seeing a show that I'd been this familiar with prior to actually seeing it, mainly because I could enjoy the ambience of the theatre and walk around a bit (rather than spending the entire pre-show and intermission flipping through the Playbill trying to figure out who was who, which songs were up next, and such). XD

Anyway, I thought it was interesting that the orchestra played the Entr'acte while people were still trickling back into the auditorium and finding their seats -- I've not seen many professional productions of musicals, but I always thought they'd want the audience pretty much settled. *shrug* Good rendition, though after hearing the version on the Polish cast recording, I have a hard time listening to most of the other versions (mainly because they feel like they're rushing through the MOTN bit).

Masquerade / Why So Silent?:

D.C. and Bruce did the beginning bit wonderfully -- much audience laughter, especially when D.C. sang (with emphasis) "a prologue to a bright New Year." Someday, I'd love to see the show on New Year's Eve . . . *sigh*

L'anyhoodles, fantastic ensemble. And the onstage musicians actually kept good time! Having heard some stories about players being totally off in this scene, I was quite happy to see that we weren't going to have a case like that here. The principals were all great, Jessi continued to be adorable as Meg, and Kelly was outstanding in the bit where she was supposed to be unnerved by all the Phantom-like masqueraders. This is the sort of scene I wish I had an "instant replay" screen for -- there's so much going on, it's tough to get it all on your first viewing.

Toward the end, just before the Phantom appeared, Kyle's Raoul came across as a bit more sympathetic; he seemed genuinely concerned and even put a hand on Kelly's shoulder. A few people gasped audibly when John appeared in the Red Death outfit. His movements seemed very fluid in this scene; not so much "mannequin from h€ll." Loved the disappearance, as well, though I'm kinda confused about the purpose of the Red Death double appearing after John vanishes.

Mme. Giry's Tale / Notes / Twisted Every Way:

I always thought the scene between Raoul and Mme. Giry goes by a bit too quickly to have the impact it should. Anne and Kyle were credible, but nothing really stood out about this scene for me.

The "Notes" bit was fantastic, and I was really struck by how Kelly played her part in all this -- very "matter-of-fact," compared to some actresses who seem like they're having a total breakdown almost from the start. In her "catfight" with Kim, she seems merely disappointed that a fellow performer would think of her that way, rather than totally angry. Loved Kyle's little "death glare" at the managers on the line "You don't have to... They can't make you..." And the cast's reactions as John read his note were great as well, especially Jimmy as Piangi.

Kelly's "Twisted Every Way," however, was jaw-droppingly emotional -- it made me appreciate just how vital this bit is to Christine's character when performed right. At the end as she runs off, she really sells the idea that Christine is on the verge of an emotional collapse, making the transition into the graveyard scene even more fitting later.

Don Juan Rehearsal / Graveyard Transition:

I adore the laughing chorus member . . . Jimmy's Piangi was brilliantly hilarious, and I loved how the cast was trying to prompt him -- humming the correct note and such. Laughing Kelly portrayed Christine's inner conflict really well in the transition; she was just kind of lost to the world.

Wishing / Wandering Child:

Wow. Perhaps it was just the experience of seeing it live, but Kelly's WYWSHA was one of the few that really moved me to tears. Her rendition was a powerhouse in terms of both vocals and emotion.

John's "Wandering Child" was gorgeously seductive. I still really miss Raoul's bit from the London production . . . ah, well. The fireballs didn't seem very dangerous, and John had this habit of only firing them when Kelly and Kyle were running stage left. Kyle seemed realistically protective of Kelly; I think he really stepped up his game for most of Act II. And I was really glad that we were sitting that far back from the stage when the pyrotechnics kicked in -- I do like having eyebrows, after all, and was very glad I got to avoid having them singed off. But we could still feel the heat from the flames, o'course. Very Happy

Before the Premiere / Don Juan:

I do love this scene -- IMO, "Seal My Fate" should've been included on at least some of the cast recordings. I find it awesome that the police/door-closers are all pre-recorded. And quite a few people gasped at the gunshot . . . Was that a curtain or John's cape visible in Box Five?

The "Don Juan" scene was great to watch -- I must be one of the few Phans who really likes this scene, especially for Piangi's section. Jimmy and Stephen Trafton (Passarino) didn't disappoint, and Jessi Erlich's little scene before that was great as well. I thought it was interesting that Christine's "No thoughts within her head" bit was done offstage (and heavily mic'ed up; perhaps prerecorded?)

Point of No Return:

H. O. T. And no, not Hawaii Opera Theatre (though the director is apparently a pretty huge Phan). Kelly played it rather innocently and playfully seductive -- as Raphael said before, it was like her Christine was a young, inexperienced girl trying to behave in a way she thought was sexy. Not a lot of apple action, but John's near-groping of Kelly during his verse certainly provided its share of mind-in-the-gutter moments.

On Kelly's verse, I thought it was interesting that John and Kelly echoed each other's hand movements -- it was hard to tell who was mimicking whom. After they returned to the bench, John started guiding Kelly's hands right . . . down . . . between his thighs. (Your hand at the level of your thighs! Laughing ) Fortunately, my mind was already in the gutter and didn't have far to fall -- the bruising was surely minimal. Razz After that, Kelly's cheek (not that one, you pervs!) brushed past John's mask, and she seemed to realize who was under that cloak.

I thought it was pretty cool how after the hooded cloak comes off, Raoul and the forces of law surround the Phantom. Loved John's "Say You'll Share With Me..." -- perfect balance of plaintiveness and control, though I did miss how some Phantoms would actually get on bended knee for this scene. The unmasking was very well-done; John screamed, quite a few people in the audience gasped, and the onstage chaos afterward was really well-played (with a great scream from Jessi's Meg, to boot).

Down Once More / Track Down This Murderer:

I adore how they transitioned to this scene by simply having the curtains open to reveal the Phantom and Christine in the boat -- possibly my favorite transition in the show. John was quite believably enraged, but I couldn't really see how Kelly was responding while in the boat. I was so focused on the two of them that I forgot that promise I made to myself to look up before Giry's scream and see if I could spot the rat catcher. No luck, but maybe next time . . .

Anne's Mme. Giry was quite good here -- I also noticed she kept her hand at eye-level (1925 film posture) the whole time; that was a really nice touch. And Kyle's plunge into the lake was awesome.

Final Lair:

John and Kelly were spectacular here. John was really violent and off his rocker for much of the scene, and Kelly was quite fearful and tormented. Then, John mourned his past, and after putting the veil on Kelly's head, she nearly spat the "It's in your soul..." line at him.

He played the bit during Raoul's entrance really well -- he was overcome with psychotic laughter (particularly on "Sir, this is indeed an unparalleled delight!") and at some points, it seemed like he was struggling to get the words out through his laughter. And he played the "Punjabbing/hanging of Raoul" bit with such maniacal glee -- it was just awesome to watch. Kelly was great as well -- silently pleading as Kyle was noosed, and then finally seeming to come to the realization that the lyrics would suggest during the "tears I might have shed" line.

Kyle's Raoul wasn't too convincing as someone about to be strangled, sadly. And especially when onstage with John and Kelly, you'd almost forget he was there. He did make one interesting flub -- during his line, I'm pretty sure he didn't say "Why make her lie to you to save me?" It sounded more like "Why throw your life away to save me?" -- interesting, but it certainly fit the scene.

After Kelly sang "I gave my mind blindly!" -- spat it at John, really -- he lunged at her in a way that almost made me think, for a split-second, that he might be about to (almost) swat her, a la Gary Mauer. No, his arm didn't go up, but it was a frightening moment nonetheless, and Kelly looked terrified. (Hey, I would have been too if I were on that stage!)

Excellent kiss, and here I got my biggest hint that I probably wasn't seeing Trista Moldovan as Christine -- according to Jeff, Trista would actually put John's arms around her during the kiss, and Kelly didn't do that here. Still great (and long), though; definitely a moving moment.

I loved how you could actually see people climbing down the portcullis -- at least, I assume they were people, but were they real? John looked up for a moment and then, realizing they were trapped, did the candle trick to release Kyle. His "Go now and leave me!" was excellent -- not screaming his lungs out, but very poignant. His "Masquerade" reprise and "Christine, I love you" were heart-wrenching, and he whispered "I love you" once after Kelly left. The moment when he sang "You alone..." while reaching out through the gate toward the departing Raoul and Christine was where I came about as close to losing it as I've ever done while watching a stage performance. John disappeared under the cloak, and then Jessi (still adorable as she was) entered the lair and lifted the cloak to reveal the Phantom's mask. Simply beautiful.

Curtain Call:

I felt like I'd been hit by a tidal wave after that final lair scene. I wanted to give everyone a standing ovation but somehow, my legs wouldn't work until John came onstage. At that point, Zelda and I both got up and cheered.

They say you can measure a performance by how much your hands hurt afterward. Judging by that, I think this one was definitely first-rate. Very Happy But it wasn't over yet . . .

Post-Show:

After the show, the three of us went out to the stage door. (I, not thinking, once again failed to take any photos.) There was a sizable crowd outside, and I asked the security guard to let D.C. Anderson know we were there. We waited for a bit, and I'm pretty sure I saw Kyle and a few of the other principals come out. I was too shy and brain-dead to say anything, though, and at the time, didn't recognize them from their photos in the Playbill.

After a couple minutes, D.C. came out and greeted us warmly, and then gave us the grand tour. (I heard someone talking to a 'Kelly' at this point, and I'm thinking she must have been referring to our Kelly Grant.) D.C. first led us onto the stage, and we got to see all the set pieces and major props up close as he explained how the candles and everything worked. I was thrilled to get to touch the chandelier . . . Forgot to ask whether it was Maria or a different one, though. The candelabras definitely seemed smaller up close than from where we were sitting.

Then, D.C. led us down to see all the costumes and wigs -- some of those dresses were pretty durn heavy -- while telling us about his history with the show. I asked how many Phantoms he had performed with, and he told me he'd worked with everyone from the Music Box Tour (formerly L.A. company) since Michael Crawford.

I don't remember exactly how, but the subject of the Vegas production came up -- D.C. expressed mock outrage at how much had been trimmed from the managers' parts in that version, and Zelda asked if the cuts were intended to make it more like the movie. D.C. replied no and told us an anecdote about how Rosie O'Donnell had been fined for her comedy routine being too long because the casino owners said every minute counted. Afterward, we each asked him to sign our Playbills and thanked him for a wonderful performance and backstage tour. I guess it's true what they say . . . you always remember your first time.

IamErik771

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Re: US Tour Matinee, SF -- Jan. 3, 2009 (Cudia/Grant/Barisich)

Post  operafantomet on Mon Sep 28, 2009 4:54 pm

IamErik771 wrote:
I finally got to hear versions I was curious about, including the Swedish and Mexican casts. (Both kicked major arse, I might add, and I'm irrevocably hooked on Elisabeth Berg's Christine. Very Happy)
Isn't she just gorgeous to listen to? I remember first time I heard the Swedish cast album. From her first notes in TOM I knew I was listening to a very special voice, and by the end of the CD I adored every bit of her Christine. Glad you got to hear her, and that you liked her.


IamErik771 wrote:
Kyle's Raoul was good in this scene -- nice voice, and I liked how he didn't just suddenly and randomly shout "Bravo!" like some Raouls I've heard. I also really liked how the other people in his box were silently talking to each other -- it makes a lot more sense than just having them stare blankly ahead, oblivious to this aristocrat randomly singing during the middle of the new soprano's aria.
I love the variety of versions here. In Madrid and (I think) Essen they had a cool detail with the managers and Mme. Firmin freezing in their tracks, as Raoul and Christine was an a world of their own, or as if time itself froze for a moment. Cool detail.


IamErik771 wrote:A question before I continue: At the very beginning of the song, did they have John and Kelly cross the stage, and then have doubles on the travelator? Or were they two sets of doubles? Either way, I had no idea that the Phantom and Christine crossed the stage at the beginning of the scene -- that was really cool, and a feature that doesn't come across in most "unmentionables." At intermission, Marcus mentioned that he saw the conductor struggling to shake the fog out of his face every now and then . . . so I thought, yeah, that must be a problem sometimes.
Unless the US tour does it differently, it's usually doubles who cross the stage for the first lines of the song, and also doubles that walks down the first bit of the travellator (obviously two different pairs). But when they're halfway down the travellator, they usually switch with the real Phantom and Christines (you'll see that Christine goes very far out in the wings for a moment). The real actors walks down the last bit, before they enter the boat and does the rest of the scene.

But I'm sure there are variations here!


IamErik771 wrote:Another thing I adored: He CAUGHT Christine after the mirror bride bit! Well, to be more specific, he caught her and then let her down gently, rather than just letting her drop like most Phantoms outside of London tend to do. I really wish more Phantoms would do this -- true, not every actor would be capable of carrying a person to the boat bed, but John's way of doing it is so much better than just letting her fall.
Oh!! That sounds like an awesome detail! I don't think I've ever seen this "in between" version before, or heard it described.

Thanks for a lovely review! (and yes, I am re-posting my comments from POL, since the review is from there... Smile )

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Re: US Tour Matinee, SF -- Jan. 3, 2009 (Cudia/Grant/Barisich)

Post  Paula74 on Mon Sep 28, 2009 6:26 pm

Random audience laughter upon the reveal of the three human skulls . . . Not sure why that's so funny.

That has gotten random laughter every single time I've seen the show.

And don't get me started on how wonderful Elisabeth Berg's Christine is...I love her title song cadenza and her WYWSHA is divine.

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Re: US Tour Matinee, SF -- Jan. 3, 2009 (Cudia/Grant/Barisich)

Post  Raphael on Tue Sep 29, 2009 2:33 am

It's great to see some of the old reviews back to enjoy again. Thanks for re-posting!

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Re: US Tour Matinee, SF -- Jan. 3, 2009 (Cudia/Grant/Barisich)

Post  IamErik771 on Tue Sep 29, 2009 3:37 am

It's a good thing POL reappeared... I seem to have misplaced the flashdrive where I had saved this review, and somehow, it wasn't on my computer or backup hard drive. Nearly gave myself a heart attack! Shocked

Thanks for the comments! Man, what I'd give to relive that performance... or to have seen the show as many times as some of you. Not that I'm jealous, mind you... perish the thought! tongue

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Re: US Tour Matinee, SF -- Jan. 3, 2009 (Cudia/Grant/Barisich)

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