The London production 2

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Re: The London production 2

Post  Irina de France on Thu Oct 15, 2015 11:32 am

Mandrake, what you said about Celinde's take on Christine really had me interested! I do wish I could get to see her one day...

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Re: The London production 2

Post  Scorp on Sat Oct 17, 2015 2:46 pm

Mandrake wrote:That's always struck me as the essence of good acting: that you see character, not actor.

...And this is why I will never understand people who rate Ramin Karimloo's Phantom. Every time I saw him in the role, it was impossible not to be very conscious of the fact that you were just seeing Ramin Karimloo in a mask.

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Re: The London production 2

Post  MajesticPhantom on Mon Oct 19, 2015 7:00 am

Celinde sounds like my kind of Christine. Wink Actually, based on Nadim Naaman's guest tweeting for the official Twitter account this past week, it's quite clear that the two oft hem have developed a loving relationship. Anna O'Byrne was quite similar as Christine, although her final lair, it was clear she felt a great deal of sadness and shock at what was occurring in front of her (re, the Phantom's breakdown).
I am very "Team Raoul" (if we must simplify!) which is why I really hope to see Naaman and Schoenmaker during this contract.

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Re: The London production 2

Post  todaaefor on Mon Feb 01, 2016 1:16 am

My husband and I are thinking of making a pilgrimage to London from the States for the 30th anniversary. Any local Phans have any insight as to what night would be the best to see the show? It looks like the show is dark on the actual anniversary date, but thought maybe they'd honor the show with a cake on one of the surrounding days. Also wondered if they would change the schedule and do a show on the 9th anyway (not sure how all of that works!)

Just want to be around to celebrate!

Thanks for any thoughts!


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Re: The London production 2

Post  Mandrake on Mon Feb 01, 2016 7:59 pm

Hmmm, that's a question.

I think it's unlikely they'd run the show on a Sunday, which Oct 9th seems to be this year. I guess there'd be all sorts of problems with that.

I was there Oct 9th just past, without realising it was the 29th anniversary. JOJ got the whole audience to sing Happy Birthday to the Phantom, which was a nice surprise!

I guess they'll do something more substantial for a landmark birthday like the 30th. Probably a cake and a few luminaries like ALW, maybe famous/ prominent former cast members, etc.

That being the case, I'd guess the Saturday evening show would be the most likely time for a small party. Although would they want to celebrate before (albeit very slightly) it turns 30?

I just checked and it's only booking up until the 1st of October at the moment. I'd keep an eye on http://www.seetickets.com (the official ticketers), checking dates. Sometimes, for a big show, they keep public sales closed for a while until they figure out what's going on- so, when the October period finally opens for booking, if Oct 8th or 10th is blanked out for a week or two, that'd likely be the date.

But if I were forced to guess, I'd guess the 8th. Though someone else here might know better, and I think some occasional posters have links with the cast/ RUG so we might hear something firmer. Maybe someone remembers what's happened previously when birthday performances fall on a Sunday? If you have to gamble by booking well in advance, I'd wait a few months then book the 8th (lacking any better intel in the meantime)... But, you'd probably be safe leaving it until the week before to book- you'd almost certainly still get a good couple of good seats from one of the resellers (check again here nearer the time if you need a list, they've been changing/ amalgamating lately).

On a different note, I was there on Saturday night, JOJ's final show. Found it very moving and, at the end, he came forward and ripped off all his wig/ rubber/ facial prostheses(?) to reveal the man behind the mask... He threw part of it out into the crowd, it went flying right by my shoulder before I'd time to sober-up sufficiently to make a grab for it; I'd have liked to have had that memento!

I noticed on his twitter that he's fallen just short of reaching 2,000 shows. Hopefully (as he hints in the tweet) he'll return sometime soon-ish to get over the line...

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Re: The London production 2

Post  todaaefor on Mon Feb 01, 2016 8:09 pm

Thanks for the reply, Mandrake! I don't really know how to go about getting tickets on the West End. I've got my info down when it comes to Broadway (where and when to buy, what seats to get) but the West End is an entirely new deal for me! So I also appreciate the link you provided!

You bring up a good point re: watching for a blacked out date. Incidentally, I ended up with tickets to the finale performance of Rock of Ages on Broadway by chance - happened to be the lead actor's last show (as promoted), and a few weeks after we bought tickets they announced the whole show would close. I guess one never knows!

I'm sad to have missed JOJ, but he never seems to get too far from the phamily Smile

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Re: The London production 2

Post  Scorp on Thu Feb 04, 2016 10:45 pm

Mandrake wrote:

On a different note, I was there on Saturday night, JOJ's final show. Found it very moving and, at the end, he came forward and ripped off all his wig/ rubber/ facial prostheses(?) to reveal the man behind the mask... He threw part of it out into the crowd, it went flying right by my shoulder before I'd time to sober-up sufficiently to make a grab for it; I'd have liked to have had that memento!

He did the same thing in his last performance in his initial run - that was in 2005. Can't believe how time has flown!

I'm not sure anything that special will happen at the 30th...it will either be like the Miz 30th or less extravagant (Cameron doesn't care as much for Phantom, and ALW's tired of it and still grumpy that his misguided sequel continuation no, wait, we can say sequel) didn't have the same success). That they're still only booking till 1 October though suggests that they are still trying to figure out what they want to do then.

I was at the 20th, and that was very good fun. Got to meet a lot of people, including Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe. Can't believe that was 10 years ago.

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Re: The London production 2

Post  IamErik771 on Fri Feb 05, 2016 6:58 pm

I got to hear a clip of Ben Forster in the role . . . Better than I was expecting after what I remember from "Superstar," but he's still not really my cup of tea. Curious about what his acting is like in the role, though.

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Re: The London production 2

Post  justin-from-barbados on Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:19 am

Just had a listen

Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked

Now I do karaoke from time to time, but I just dont understand how someone can sound so bad in the lower easy notes yet hit the higher parts out of the park, it's just so odd. Like his MOTN "Beeeeeeeeee" was really good, but the rest was, well, terrible.

One positive, he does emote well in his singing which is helpful when you listen to phantom rather than see the show live.

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Re: The London production 2

Post  justin-from-barbados on Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:21 am

Would this be considered stunt casting? Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked

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Re: The London production 2

Post  Scorp on Tue Feb 16, 2016 11:56 pm

I avoided that Superstar tour like the plague so I had no idea what Forster sounded like.

I've only heard him sing the title song, and not really liking it. He sounds like he's singing an American pop song.

I hope it gets better...

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Re: The London production 2

Post  IamErik771 on Wed Feb 17, 2016 3:52 am

justin-from-barbados wrote:Just had a listen

Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked

Now I do karaoke from time to time, but I just dont understand how someone can sound so bad in the lower easy notes yet hit the higher parts out of the park, it's just so odd. Like his MOTN "Beeeeeeeeee" was really good, but the rest was, well, terrible.

One positive, he does emote well in his singing which is helpful when you listen to phantom rather than see the show live.

Every singer is different and has a different range, with their own strengths and weaknesses. I know a few tenors who simply can't hit the low notes in MOTN -- their voices don't go that low. But yeah, that sort of thing is part of why I feel that Forster was miscast in the role. I wonder if this would qualify as stunt casting, since while he has been in musicals, that's pretty much entirely due to his being on a reality show.

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Re: The London production 2

Post  justin-from-barbados on Wed Feb 17, 2016 4:13 pm

on a plus..... He does look nice in the role, going by the pics up outside the theatre. (not counting the promo one with him straddling the latter under the theatre, that was just camp)

Seems they might have got his mask to look not as wacked as some of the other london masks, or maybe its just the angle. Those London masks are still WAY too big and just swallow the poor guys' faces

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Re: The London production 2

Post  RichardN86 on Fri Feb 19, 2016 3:22 am

Looks like there is some virus circling around in the Air at Her Majesty's Theatre. Jeremy Secomb took a short break from Les Mis and played The Phantom on Saturday and Monday. Was anyone there ? I love the youtube-clips of him as The Phantom. His voice is so powerful.

It looks like Scott Davies is on for the rest of the week...

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Re: The London production 2

Post  RichardN86 on Fri Feb 19, 2016 1:12 pm

RichardN86 wrote:Looks like there is some virus circling around in the Air at Her Majesty's Theatre. Jeremy Secomb took a short break from Les Mis and played The Phantom on Saturday and Monday. Was anyone there ? I love the youtube-clips of him as The Phantom. His voice is so powerful.

It looks like Scott Davies is on for the rest of the week...

Ben Forster is back tonight Smile

https://mobile.twitter.com/thebenforster/status/700658432320233473

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Re: The London production 2

Post  Scorp on Fri Feb 26, 2016 10:32 pm

For anyone who happens to be in London, I highly recommend going to the Victoria & Albert Museum if you can before August. They have a temporary exhibition (which will later transfer to New York) called "Curtain Up", which celebrates recent London and Broadway theatre. There is a whole section dedicated to Phantom, and it includes Michael Crawford's original mask, a real costume used in the production (2011 Red Death), Maria Björnson's original designs and video clips from the V&A's pro-shot of the 2003 cast, starring John Owen-Jones.

For Hal Prince fans, there is also an extremely fascinating section where he has donated some of his papers on the original production of Evita.

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Re: The London production 2

Post  Mandrake on Wed Mar 16, 2016 4:12 pm

Hmmm.

So JOJ finishes at Les Mis, Broadway, on 04th September when the show closes.

And Ben Forster finishes his (unusually short?) Phantom run on 07th September (according to this link). I'm a little suspicious of this date, though, since it's a Wednesday.

Given this coincidental(?) timing, and maybe since JOJ only had a 4-5 month run as Phantom in his latest just-finished stint, could JOJ be likely to return?

Or would this be very unlikely? Maybe the closeness of the dates actually mitigates against it.

Although he did make some noises on twitter about returning, and being just under 40 performances shy of 2000... Returning on the 8th would probably see him hit 2000 on almost exactly the 30th anniversary. It's a bit of a stretch, though, to imagine it could be timed so precisely even if someone wanted to.

I've a feeling all these things are just coincidence and I'm grasping at straws.

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Re: The London production 2

Post  Irina de France on Wed Mar 16, 2016 4:28 pm

So we're not having Ben Forster for the 30th? Man, that's really weird. I'm a bit dubious they'll bring JOJ back, though. Maybe CamMac will jump on the occasion and have Hadley Fraser or Tam Mutu, as I've predicted before? But it makes me wonder if Celinde will stay for the 30th, for some weird reason.

(And I'm off to pray really hard to have Michael Ball for the 30th anniversary, AGAIN)

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Re: The London production 2

Post  Riene on Thu Mar 17, 2016 3:42 pm

Scorp wrote:For anyone who happens to be in London, I highly recommend going to the Victoria & Albert Museum if you can before August. They have a temporary exhibition (which will later transfer to New York) called "Curtain Up", which celebrates recent London and Broadway theatre. There is a whole section dedicated to Phantom, and it includes Michael Crawford's original mask, a real costume used in the production (2011 Red Death), Maria Björnson's original designs and video clips from the V&A's pro-shot of the 2003 cast, starring John Owen-Jones.

For Hal Prince fans, there is also an extremely fascinating section where he has donated some of his papers on the original production of Evita.

*wonders if there is any way in hell I could get to London this summer*

Any idea where in NYC this collection is heading? I have only a slightly better chance of getting there.

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Re: The London production 2

Post  Mandrake on Wed Sep 28, 2016 6:34 pm

I saw this, if anyone was wondering about 30th anniversary celebrations:


30th Anniversary Charity Performance
(with some very special guests!)

On Monday 10 October, the West End production of The Phantom of the Opera celebrates its 30th Anniversary with a very special charity gala performance in aid of The Music in Secondary Schools Trust.

To celebrate this milestone, the current stellar cast including Ben Forster as 'The Phantom', Celinde Schoenmaker as 'Christine Daae' and Nadim Naaman as 'Raoul' will be joined onstage by members of the original company and special guests in a special finale.

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Re: The London production 2

Post  MarySkater on Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:42 pm

I went to the show in London during August.  At the time, I wrote a report for a penpal.  Belatedly, it occurred to me that some people here might be interested, so I've reproduced what I wrote immediately after the show.  All opinions are my own – feel free to disagree.


Phantom, London. Thursday matinee, 4th August 2016


Phantom: Ben Forster
Christine: Celinde Schoenmaker
Raoul: Ashley Stillburn (listed in the programme as understudy)

When seeing the show in Her Majesty's Theatre, if you want to know who is in the cast for a particular performance, you need to check the board in the main foyer.  Changes from the printed programme are not announced, nor are there any free hand-out cast lists.

All I knew about Ben Forster was that, a few years ago, he won a TV talent contest to play the lead in Jesus Christ Superstar.  This did not inspire me with confidence, since contestants who get the viewer votes aren't necessarily the most talented.  However, reading his bio, he had quite a lot of stage experience and training prior to that, and he turned in a good performance as Phantom.  He's definitely a better singer than Peter Joback.  With Joback, I always felt a certain tension about whether he was going to be able to reach or hold the big notes.  Ben could do it, and sounded comfortable with it.  Sometimes there was a sort of "lightness" about his voice – I can't describe it any better than that.  My "gold standard" for Phantom is Michael Crawford, from knowing the OCR so well.  He has a depth or richness in his voice, while Ben to me had a pop star voice – albeit a very good pop star.  Ben is in his mid-thirties, following the current trend of young, handsome Phantoms.  Medium-tall, slim build.

Celinde was an okay Christine.  Sometimes her diction wasn't clear (she's Dutch).  And I thought she sounded quite harsh in "Wishing."  If I have a gold standard for that song, it's Sierra in Phantom 25, who was so good she deservedly stopped the show.  Celinde didn't have a perceptible accent.  Everybody in the show (apart from Carlotta and Piangi) spoke/ sang in British English.

I liked Ashley as Raoul.  Pleasant voice, good looking, came over as quite sympathetic, which is not always true of Raoul.


The "house full" signs were up.  I was sitting in the front row of the Royal Circle, (i.e. first level up from the stalls) towards the left.  Slightly masked on the very front left corner of the stage, where Christine is on the floor for STYDI and parts of FL. Not the best angle for the mirror bride illusion, as I could see behind the frame to the "mannequin."

The overture and the chandelier coming to life still sends chills up my spine, no matter how often I've seen it.  That is a brilliant piece of theatre.

Prima Donna – Raoul's "Why did Christine fly from my arms?" seems to be directed at Meg.  Maybe he's thinking that, as Christine's friend, she might have an explanation.

The "toad."  When the Phantom says, "She is singing to bring down the chandelier," and he's in the high catwalk tugging the cords to make the chandelier shake, previous Phantoms I've seen have been over to the left side of the auditorium.  This time he was much more central.  That suited me, as I could see him better from where I was sitting.  I wonder if the change of position is to make it easier for him to get into the angel sculpture.

Roof scene: There was some talk about whether the Eiffel Tower is visible on the skyline.  (If so, it's out of period as it wasn't built till 1889, but then the show is very inconsistent about dates.)  Yes, you can see the tower, but very faint.  Mainly the backdrop shows lighted windows.  The skyline is dark-on-dark.  However, as the lighting changes during the song, at times you can see the left-hand edge of the tower, for up to half its height.  Because so little is visible, if challenged, the designers could claim that it's something like a church steeple seen against a roofscape.  But really, the curve of that base section is quite distinctive.  It's the Eiffel.

"I gave you my music" – Michael Crawford's voice soars into the stratosphere for this.  Ben's didn't, quite.  Instead his voice kept breaking and going breathy, as if he was crying.  I don't know if it's just a different take on the scene, or if he has trouble with really high notes, but it came over as very effective.  He's kneeling or crouching in the angel, but as it rose up to the proscenium, he stood up, which looks quite dramatic.

Chandelier crash:  the last couple of times I saw the show, Christine was alone on stage as the chandelier came down.  This time, they went back to the way it used to be done in the 90's; there are other people around – the cast of Il Muto, who are taking a curtain call.  And as the chandelier crashes, Raoul rushes in to grab Christine and push her out of the way.

Masquerade didn't have the half man/ half woman dancers.  The Phantom didn't exit down through a trapdoor.  He's near the foot of the stairs, the lights dip, he is now halfway up the stairs, the lights dip again, and he's gone.  There's lots of noise and movement at the time to confuse the scene.

DJT rehearsal.  Piangi's wrong note is made more obvious.  He's singing the first half of "tangle" quite low, Reyer is pitching it high.

Preparing for DJT.  Something which has always annoyed me about Raoul is that he tells the marksman "You'll know!" – that is, he'll know when it's time to shoot.  So the man is being told to use his own judgement, and yet Raoul yells at him when he fires.  They made one simple change which improves that.  All the introductory dialogue is the same.  Then we get the Phantom's voice speaking from various parts of the theatre.  At that point, Raoul shouts to the marksman, "Hold your fire!"  But when the Phantom briefly appears in Box 5, the marksman fires, anyway, thus deserving the reprimand.

DJT performance.  After Christine pulls the Phantom's hood down, she tried to run off to the right, but the managers turned her back.  The Phantom appeared to try to escape to the left, but turned back.  I presume someone stopped him – I couldn't see the extreme left side.  He then turned to face the curtained alcove where Piangi is hidden, but didn't go that way.  Quite slowly he turned back to Christine to begin the "All I Ask Of You" reprise, pleading, voice broken with sobs.  Following the unmasking and the reveal of Piangi's body, there's the usual mayhem and screaming.  Carlotta came on, but if she delivered her "What 'as 'appened? Ubaldo!" I didn't hear it.  It's a shame because that moment gives some humanity to both Carlotta and Piangi.

In FL, Ben played it more insane than I'm used to seeing.  The way he swung between triumph, anger and anguish, and prowled jerkily around the stage as though he didn't know where to put himself, really gave the impression of his being totally unpredictable.  At one point he restrained Christine by grabbing her hair.  Joback's vulnerability was more sympathetic, but Ben's craziness was scarier.

He was in the chair when Raoul said, "Let me see her."  In a relatively still moment, Ben gave an elegant little gesture with his left hand which started the portcullis rising.  It didn't rise very far before starting down again, but Raoul hit the floor with a diving roll, in the style of Indiana Jones, to get under it.  He and Christine ran to each other, which made it credible that they didn't see the Phantom coming up behind Raoul with the noose.

The trio played as normal, although if I didn't know the show, I'd have been hard pressed to sort out any of the words.  The OCR does a fairly good job of bringing out each voice in turn, but I wasn't getting that at this performance.  The Phantom was suitably shocked at the kiss, but for the second half, he actually put his arms round Christine and held her.  I don't know whether that's Ben's personal take on the scene, or if it's part of the same ethos that wants handsome Phantoms, pushing the romance element.  When they broke apart, he pressed his hands to his face/ head; I'm not clear if he was expressing pain, or reminding himself of what he looked like.

Phantom sending away R&C played as normal.  He was on his knees on the floor when Christine came back with the ring.  He looked like he wanted to refuse it, but in the end she pressed it into his hand and closed his fingers over it.  She looked quite sad as she left him, but didn't have to be dragged away.  R&C looked/ sounded happy as they left in the boat.  The Phantom's disappearance went smoothly.

All in all, I'm happy with that performance.

Mary

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Re: The London production 2

Post  NightRachel on Thu Oct 13, 2016 11:54 pm

So I watched the video footage (on the London POTO Facebook page) of the "Curtain Call" performances for the 30th Anniversary night. Gotta say, I really liked that Sierra and Gardar did some of their singing in French (Sierra during "Wishing", and then Sierra & Gardar during "POTO")...and, it was lovely to see Michael Crawford there at the end (together with some members of the original company). Smile

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Re: The London production 2

Post  MarySkater on Fri Oct 14, 2016 9:23 am

Yes, I agree. It was on a smaller scale than the post-show events at "Phantom 25," and I read somewhere that the whole thing was put together quickly on the same afternoon. It was mentioned that original choreographer Gillian Lynne (now aged 90) had been working with them that afternoon - presumably the Masquerade sequence needed some modification as it was happening in the Lair, not on the staircase. But it was good to see the guest stars and to hear some bits sung in French.

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