"Phantom" (Y/K), London, May17th, or: "There is no understudy for the role!"

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"Phantom" (Y/K), London, May17th, or: "There is no understudy for the role!"

Post  Josephine on Sat May 18, 2013 6:47 am

When reading this little review, please bear in mind that it was my first time of seeing that version live on stage. Any mistakes I made are entirely my own. Feel free not to correct me. Wink


“Ye Olde Rose and Crown” is not a theatre as such. It’s a pub with a first-floor room that they use for plays, poetry nights and such. I knew that beforehand, but even so, when I first walked in, I was struck by how small the room was. There was space for about fifty to sixty people. Also, there was no divide between stage and audience. I was sitting in the front row, and we sometimes had to pull back out legs to stop actors from standing on our feet. It gave it a lovely feeling of imminence, of being drawn right into the story.


The seating was done on a “first come, first served” basis, which suited me just fine. I was one of the first to enter the room and could secure a seat in the front row (centre). As I said before, I was so close to the actors that I could have touched them (but I resisted temptation). As the theatre was so small, they didn’t even use microphones, which lead to small acoustics problems at times, especially when someone was singing with their back to the audience.


The stage consisted of a couple of steps and a raised platform, which they used for some scenes, mainly as Erik’s lair. The backdrop was a painted scene of the catacombs. The musicians were seated in one corner of the stage. It was nice to watch them every now and then during the show.


The costumes were mostly very nice, especially Christine’s dresses. Unfortunately, it seemed that either they had spent so much on Christine that they didn’t have much left for the company or else that they didn’t think their costumes were as important. Some of the pieces were very anachronistic, in particular the corsets. I didn’t much like Phantom’s mask. I’m not sure whether it was the shape or whether it simply didn’t fit very well, but I didn’t like the look of it. Also, it may seem like a little thing, but I was slightly irritated by the fact that Christine did not remove the two piercings in each of her ears. It just looked strange.

Pre-show announcement:

Before the start, the director herself welcomed us, telling us that it was in fact the official first night (maybe because it was the first night that the press had come). She also informed us that unfortunately, several of the singers had overdone it during rehearsals and had all but lost their voices. “But the show must go on,” as she phrased it, which I suppose is a fancy way of saying, “They have to sing anyway because we haven’t got understudies”. The fact that Carlotta was the one most audibly concerned by this immediately brought to my mind, “There is no understudy for the role! The production is new!”


Phantom: Kieran Brown
Christine: Kira Morsely
Philippe: Sean Paul Jenkinson
Carrière: Tom Murphey
Carlotta: Pippa Winslow
Cholet: Andrew Rivera
Flora: Emily Apps
Inspector Ledoux: Thomas Hewitt
Fleur: Harrier Payne
Buquet: Mark Byles
Young Carrière: David Jay Douglas
Belladova: Elizabeth Atkinson
Jean Claude: Matthew James Willis
Florence: Rebecca Westberry
Minister of Culture: Gregory Hazel


Sadly, he was one of the people who had a cold, so if I judge his voice unfairly, please forgive me. I had the impression that because of the cold, he held back a little vocally. He was a terrific actor, though, both terrifying and very tender.

I enjoyed every moment of Erik and Carrière. They had a wonderful chemistry. It didn’t hurt that they looked a little alike, either, mainly in stature and posture. When they were sitting next to each other, you could have truly mistaken them for father and son. The scenes between them at the end of the show had me sobbing (very quietly, seeing as I was sitting in the front row), and believe me, I’m not someone who is easily moved to tears by something I see on stage. That said, they were also really funny together in the first act. They played the comic and the sad aspects for all they’re worth, and they did both perfectly.


I might as well talk about him next, seeing as I’ve already started. I think he was my favourite among the cast, with a really good stage presence and a voice to match. He was wonderful with Erik, but also with the others. I’d love to see him again, no matter in which part. In appearance, he reminded me a bit of Colm. Must be the beard.


Vocally, I couldn’t fault her. She hit the notes perfectly. Sadly, though, I didn’t warm to her much, at least not at first. She appeared a bit distant. I grew to like her better during the second act, though I still thought that she looked better suited to Philippe than to Erik.


He was delightfully smarmy, and I enjoyed his acting. He did make me believe that he was in love with Christine, which is what matters.

Carlotta and Cholet:

Carlotta was my second-favourite in the cast, after Carrière. She had huge comic potential and made me laugh so hard with her affected mannerism. Sadly, she was the one most struggling with a cold, so she had to try really hard, especially during “This place is mine”. It was clear, though, that her training had taught her exactly how to get through even so. Not to mention that it actually works in favour of the show to have a Carlotta who is struggling vocally! I would have loved to hear her on a good day. I’m sure that if her voice is excellent when she’s got a cold, it would have been nothing but stunning under normal circumstances.

Carlotta and Cholet were very nice together, very comical. Cholet was clearly besotted with his wife, and she used it to her advantage beautifully.


I don’t think there was a single member of the cast whom I disliked. They had a nice atmosphere between them, and it was clear that they enjoyed being together and putting on that show. Special mentions must be made for Belladova, who was heart-breakingly sad, and the ever-so-funny Inspector Ledoux.

Curtain calls:

Applause was enthusiastic, but not overly so. I was the first and only one to give standing ovations to Carrière, and a few more people got up for Christine and Phantom. I was a little surprised that there wasn’t more, for I had the impression that the audience enjoyed the show a lot. Well, maybe they were just being British.


If you’re the kind of person who thinks that musicals must have huge special effects and a cast of at least fifty, this is not the right production for you. If you, however, like small companies in small theatre with big emotions, like I do, you’ll enjoy it immensely. I had a wonderful evening.


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Age : 33
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