Phantom Las Vegas, 6/21/12 (Crivello/Hertzenberg/Ragone) and 6/23/12 (Crivello/Holden/Ragone)

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Phantom Las Vegas, 6/21/12 (Crivello/Hertzenberg/Ragone) and 6/23/12 (Crivello/Holden/Ragone)

Post  LadyCDaae on Mon Jun 25, 2012 3:32 pm

So, in retrospect I don't know why I waited until almost the last minute to see PotO at the Venetian, but I'm glad I went when I did. This was something I've needed for a while now: a good old-fashioned Phantom experience untainted by echoes of inferior film versions and sequels which do not exist. It was nice to finally see a production that remembered this is a story as much about terror and darkness as it is about romance and spectacle (though very awesome spectacle--I think my first reaction on entering the theater was something along the lines of "Holy sh*t, that thing is huge!")

Unfortunately due to a packed and extremely entertaining weekend I'm not equal to giving a detailed blow-by-blow of each performance, so I'll just have to stick with my general impressions of the cast and production:

The Phantom (Anthony Crivello): .....Hmmmmmm. Definitely a very distinctive performance, which I can imagine generating a lot of passionate reaction in both directions. For my part, he's something of a mixed bag. Vocally I didn't care for him much--there was a bit too much nasal resonance in places and not enough clarity of timbre for my taste--but I liked a lot of his characterization, which is definitely an old-school Phantom. And I mean really old school; there is a lot of Leroux and Chaney in his behavior--mercurial, totally insane, and possessing a sadistic, sarcastic streak a mile wide (he curtsied at Raoul. Snerk.) His movements tend to be spontaneous and less smooth than is usual--he reminded me of a conductor caught up in the music he's directing-and the result is compelling without being overtly (or even very covertly) sensual. So while I can't install him in the ranks of my favorite Phantom actors, I found it an interesting and overall enjoyable performance.

Christine (Kristi Holden): A very sad, reserved Chrisitne, who seems to come alive mostly when she sings. Explains a lot about the Phantom's hold on her, which seems to be more an artistic/spiritual reaction rather than a romantic/erotic one. Good solid performance overall.

Christine (alt) (Kristen Hertzenberg): Too be honest, I don't think I can do real justice to her performance, as being in the mezzanine with no opera glasses to compensate for my crappy distance vision I couldn't pick up on a lot of the nuances and little character moments which I feel distinguish individual actresses in this part. I will say, however, that she has a lovely voice and a strong Final Lair that I felt even in the back--her kiss was very fierce, almost as if she's trying to embrace the crazy out of the Phantom (which is, in a way, what happens).

Raoul (Andrew Ragone): Hadley Fraser needs Andrew Ragone lessons. Ragone embodies the basic principle that "headstrong =/= dickhead." His Raoul is forthright, determined, and unpretentious as only someone with a good heart and strong moral fiber can be--and who, under the guidance of such principles, does not give way easily. He's the proverbial good man who's hard to find, and you know Christine is lucky to have found him.

Firmin (Lawson Skala) and Andre (John Leslie Wolfe): Listed together because I think they work better as a pair than separately. Individually I didn't find much to distinguish them (though Wolfe's exit before the Il Muto ballet was brilliant, bumping into nearly every dancer on his way out before hiding his face in his program in shame), but together they play off each other very well and create some nice comic moments.

Carlotta (Joan Sobel): Serviceable, but not terrific--she didn't make as much of the comic potential in the character as I would have liked. She did have one nice moment that I liked, though, sticking her hand out for Andre right before "Prima Donna" as if trying to prompt his flattery ("No, no, it's useless to try and persuade me!...Hey, why aren't you persuading me?")

Mme. Giry (Tina Walsh): One of the problems with the abbreviated Vegas production is that the supporting cast loses a lot of the opportunities for good character moments, and I think Giry probably suffers the worst for it (or maybe it's just that she's my favorite supporting character and I can never get enough of her). Walsh does do what she can with the part, though, making it very clear her Giry is mostly motivated by sheer terror (she kept trying to get away from Raoul during the confession--nice.).

Piangi (Larry Wayne Morbitt): Helloooo, new favorite Piangi! Morbitt had me from the moment he struggled up the elephant with an amount of effort normally reserved for scaling Everest, and his pompous "Amateurs!" walk just sealed the deal. He does so much with this character, making him pompous and buffoonish but in a very endearing way, so that you're sad when he dies. I really hope he gets the chance to do the full version--I have no doubt he'd knock "Roma" and the DJT rehearsal out of the park.

Meg (Brianne Kelly Morgan): Awww, I just wanted to hug Brianne's Meg and take her home with me. It's very hard to make me sit up and take notice of this character, but her delicate and unforced sweetness did the trick.

Some random thoughts:

~Souped-up chandelier restoration? Yeah, that's pretty cool. But overture bass I can feel in my chest cavity? Now that's what I'm talkin' about!
~Over the course of the weekend, I realized that I really love the interaction between the Phantom and Christine during the first parts of the title song--which I realize is extremely ironic, as they're never played by the actual actors at that point. Anyway, whoever's doing the doubling in Vegas did a great job--I loved the way the Christine crept back up the staircase and then came back like she was afraid of what might happen if she got caught.
~So where does Christine get the AIAOY cloak anyway? I mean, the dress is obvious--she was changing into the Countess costume and got interrupted when all Hell broke loose--but why does she have a cloak on top of it? "Oh, I'll just have this around in case I need to have a quick secret rendevouz on the Opera roof...."
~Brianne came out to meet us between shows on Saturday and was approached by the...older female relative (mom? grandma? aunt? I'm not sure) of a twelve-year-old girl who had seen the Vegas show once a year since it had opened and she was five. The girl was very shy but was finally coaxed into getting a picture with Brianne. D'awwww!

So yeah, I had a great weekend and got to meet Raphael and Lindsey, which was a lot of fun. An excellent belated 35th birthday present!

~LCD

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Re: Phantom Las Vegas, 6/21/12 (Crivello/Hertzenberg/Ragone) and 6/23/12 (Crivello/Holden/Ragone)

Post  Raphael on Wed Jun 27, 2012 3:07 am

Great review LCD! I'm glad you finally got a chance to see the Vegas version Smile

LadyCDaae wrote:This was something I've needed for a while now: a good old-fashioned Phantom experience untainted by echoes of inferior film versions and sequels which do not exist. It was nice to finally see a production that remembered this is a story as much about terror and darkness as it is about romance and spectacle (though very awesome spectacle--I think my first reaction on entering the theater was something along the lines of "Holy sh*t, that thing is huge!")
Yeah, that's how I felt when I first saw the show six years ago, coming off the 2004 debacle. Vegas helped rekindle my love for Phantom.

The Phantom (Anthony Crivello): .....but I liked a lot of his characterization, which is definitely an old-school Phantom. And I mean really old school; there is a lot of Leroux and Chaney in his behavior--mercurial, totally insane, and possessing a sadistic, sarcastic streak a mile wide (he curtsied at Raoul. Snerk.)
That's how I felt when I saw him, although his interpretation has evolved over the years. He had a real Svengali-like quality to him in the early years.

Raoul (Andrew Ragone): Hadley Fraser needs Andrew Ragone lessons. Ragone embodies the basic principle that "headstrong =/= dickhead." His Raoul is forthright, determined, and unpretentious as only someone with a good heart and strong moral fiber can be--and who, under the guidance of such principles, does not give way easily. He's the proverbial good man who's hard to find, and you know Christine is lucky to have found him.
Amen to that. Ragone has an earnestness to his performance that I really love. Hal Prince was right when he personally praised Ragone's work during Fans Week.

Mme. Giry (Tina Walsh): One of the problems with the abbreviated Vegas production is that the supporting cast loses a lot of the opportunities for good character moments, and I think Giry probably suffers the worst for it (or maybe it's just that she's my favorite supporting character and I can never get enough of her). Walsh does do what she can with the part, though, making it very clear her Giry is mostly motivated by sheer terror (she kept trying to get away from Raoul during the confession--nice.).
True, if you're not the Phantom, Christine, or Raoul, the principal characters lose a lot of those moments where they get to develop as characters. I did notice this time around that there was a bit more warmth to Walsh's performance. I think I even saw her crack a smile a few times Smile

Piangi (Larry Wayne Morbitt): Helloooo, new favorite Piangi! Morbitt had me from the moment he struggled up the elephant with an amount of effort normally reserved for scaling Everest, and his pompous "Amateurs!" walk just sealed the deal. He does so much with this character, making him pompous and buffoonish but in a very endearing way, so that you're sad when he dies. I really hope he gets the chance to do the full version--I have no doubt he'd knock "Roma" and the DJT rehearsal out of the park.
Morbitt's actually one of the veteran Phantom actors in the production (he'd previously been Piangi on Broadway and on tour). He's probably my favorite Piangi as well for the same reasons you described.

Meg (Brianne Kelly Morgan): Awww, I just wanted to hug Brianne's Meg and take her home with me. It's very hard to make me sit up and take notice of this character, but her delicate and unforced sweetness did the trick.
There's nothing not to like about Brianne's Meg. She's the first I've seen give the character a distinct personality.

~Brianne came out to meet us between shows on Saturday and was approached by the...older female relative (mom? grandma? aunt? I'm not sure) of a twelve-year-old girl who had seen the Vegas show once a year since it had opened and she was five. The girl was very shy but was finally coaxed into getting a picture with Brianne. D'awwww!
That was a great moment Smile

So yeah, I had a great weekend and got to meet Raphael and Lindsey, which was a lot of fun. An excellent belated 35th birthday present!
Happy belated birthday!!!

R.

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Re: Phantom Las Vegas, 6/21/12 (Crivello/Hertzenberg/Ragone) and 6/23/12 (Crivello/Holden/Ragone)

Post  LadyCDaae on Wed Jun 27, 2012 3:30 am

True, if you're not the Phantom, Christine, or Raoul, the principal characters lose a lot of those moments where they get to develop as characters. I did notice this time around that there was a bit more warmth to Walsh's performance. I think I even saw her crack a smile a few times.

I really loved the part in "Masquerade" where she joined Christine and Raoul's hands, then paused nervously like she knew the trouble they were in for. Nice touch.

Morbitt's actually one of the veteran Phantom actors in the production (he'd previously been Piangi on Broadway and on tour). He's probably my favorite Piangi as well for the same reasons you described.

Let me rephrase that: I hope I get the chance to see him to the full version. Smile

~LCD

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Re: Phantom Las Vegas, 6/21/12 (Crivello/Hertzenberg/Ragone) and 6/23/12 (Crivello/Holden/Ragone)

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