Glendale Glendale Centre Theatre Y/K (Sept 22nd 2008

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Glendale Glendale Centre Theatre Y/K (Sept 22nd 2008

Post  TheMaskedLion on Sat Oct 03, 2009 4:17 am

I saved this from the depths of Phansonline.





Christine- Heather Lundstedt
Phillipe De Chandon - Bryan Vickery
Carlotta - Rita Tarin
Joseph Buquet - Christopher Gomez
Erik - Kelby Thwaits
Gerard Carriere - George Champion
Alain Cholet - Todd Andrew Ball
Belladova - Genevieve Mariko Wilson
Young Carriere - Whitney Ackerman
Young Erik - Tanner Arden


Directed by George Stratten
Musical Director - Steven Applegate
Choregrapher Janet Renslow
Costumer - Angela Wood
Sets and Lighting - Tim Dietlein


It should be noted this production was done in the theater in the round style. Which I myself didn't think would work for Phantom, but I sat in front row and it worked extremely well. The effects were well concieved and the set changes were fluid and effortless. (They also even went so far as to make each BIG scene smell different through the use of a fog machine add in..) But the orchestra was canned. But I quickly forgot this. It also was one of the first productions I have seen of this to show Erik's face, as a LEROUX based makeup designed by Christopher Gomez


Melodie De Paris - The show opened with a lovely cavalcade of happy parisians as Christine entered the stage and began to sing her melody. Heather Lundstedt was a amazing Christine, her voice had the clarity and strength of a classically trained soprano, she reminded me of a combinatiob of Elizabeth DeGrazia with the girlish sweetness of Paige OHara as Belle in Beauty and The Beast, She also moved well and looked the part as well. The costumes and lighting also was top notch, they also had little children that danced with Christine and also danced with a mime, who did


Philipe's Entrance: Bryan Vickery certainly did not look how I imagined The Count de Chandon to appear He has orangish reddish hair and a beard. He was tall and was quite foppish. He seemed to be channeling Clive Carter as Raoul in the Sydmonton version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. His delivery of the lines was pleasant, but it also seemed a bit rushed, As though he was afraid of forgetting them, His "buisiness" partners, the two ladies were very insistant, as in the script, but it also obvious that he had more than a casual relationship with them. He was ogling Christine like a cat at a fish mongers.


It was interesting, to see how the audience bobbed and swayed to the song, They really liked it and gave them a very loud round of applause, the energy was high already, and this was the first scene!


Paris Is A Tomb - Next we see Carlotta and Buquet on the winding staircase, Carlotta as played by Rita Tarin reminded me of Carol Burnett,in terms of comic acting, with crazy facial expressions, and physically reminded me of the Carlotta from the David Staller film, but with better makeup and hair. Joseph Buquet Christopher Gomez was dispatched by Erik, Because he catches Erik changing masks, The fog rolled in as we see Erik perform proabably the easiest part of the show. It was too early for me to critique this Erik, so I will say the sets and the lighting for this scene was well done.



Dressing For The Night / New Managers - George Champion enters as Gerard Carriere and he wasnt what I expected, but I warmed up to him quickly, I was very used to Bert Lancaster's performance in the Charles Dance film. but I grew to like George very quickly, His Gerard was open and caring. He seemed to love his work in the Opera house Todd Andrew Ball enters as Cholet, and I can tell you, He was a real toady for Carlotta, stuck up and bit of a A**hole to the cast and team of the Opera House, (translation he was perfect.) He was also very short, and Carlotta towered over him, which made thier relationship all the more hilarious.

Scene: George Champion has excellant chemistry with everyone. including Kelby Thwaits, but the only thing that bothered me was Kelby (besides his really outlandish feathered mask that stuck out about eight inches each, and they were on his cheeks and his forehead) didnt set up the humor at all. All of the jokes fell horribly flat, not one laugh at all.

Where In The World - Kelby Thwaits as The Phantom. His performance seemed extremely stiff in the first act, for instance he didnt walk in character at all. It seemed to me that he didnt understand the material at all. His voice however pleasant to the ear, did not have a sense of the character or the bitterness in those words at all. His lower range reminded me of Davis Gaines in terms of power and darkness, his higher range sounded like Michael Crawford with a bad cold. I also noticed they had Acolytes, which really bothered me. I felt these people never fit into the story, and it all works better if Erik is alone. And Kelby lost points with me by cracking badly during this song in various places, and also in it's reprises. *shakes head sadly*

This Place Is Mine - Rita Tarin performed This Place is Mine with a vengance and the cartoonish antics of Carol Burnett, she made the most godawful vocal swoops, that made the character very comic and at the same time most serious, Her actual range which she revealed towards the more meatier parts of the song was amazing.


Home - Heather Lundstedt.. How can I begin to describe how I adore this woman? Her voice was amazing here as was her genuine joy during this scene, unfortunatly.. Kelby didnt seem to understand the importance of this instant, I sensed that he merely was singing. And after the song came a rather silly version of the "Hey, I wanna give you lessons" scene. With him spinning around a costume rack to hide from Christine. (She caught up to him easily, it just didnt work too well. and he doesnt know how to work a cape I am afraid.. *Tsk tsk*)

Music Lessons/Phantom Fugue - I must congratulate the set designers for tackling a interesting problem, With theater in the round you cannot merely use one side of the stage during a big scene, and they tackled this by having two organs for Erik and Christine to use. Yes, that is right, a organ. Not that silly one they used in the Rochester revival but something almost out of Lon Chaney's film. Kelby has this thing with his hands that bothers me, he never streches out his arms, its as if he is incapable of doing so, Only he doesnt strech out his arms AT ALL. He keeps them close to his chest doing these lovely gestures to the music. and I felt almost like Robin Williams, I wanted to scream "WORK THE ARMS YOU BASTARD! WORK THE ARMS!" But her voice was exquisite, yet I also noticed Kelby couldnt say "Buh" very well. He was late musically.
The fugue was staged in a very creative way, they had Carlotta open a cabinet and Buquet's body just falls out hanging by the neck and swings in a rather nasty way. she shrieks and thus this song begins. I myself found the lyrics to this song to be hilarious "The opera's been invaded by a PHANTOM!" Why not stage it with flying saucers and little green men doing the Macarena? Just kidding. I am sorry if I traumatized anyone. However, the running around here was done very well, They managed to show various parts of the Opera House without changing a single thing, yet you just.. knew. and Ledoux sang well, and Kelby ran around accordingly.. although he tripped on the spiral staircase on his cape, which was hilarious. At the end of the song, Erik was supposed to rise in the middle of the group, Kelby ran in and DROPS THE STOOL with a clank and jumps ontop of it, and trips coming off of it. during the blackout, By this time I believe my nails left carvings in the seat.


You Are Music - Oh the sweet divinity of Christine's voice, It is clear by this time that she is in love with Erik, The blocking was similar to that of the Rochester Theater production, Kelby was doing his creepy Gollum like hand thing again , which spoiled it for me, and he cracked during the "Ohhhh's!" in each line, the blocking was lovely with him leading her around in a almost dance like way, but wisely they kept his interactions with her slightly awkward and unsure, (Whether or not that was intentional or just lack of chemistry I do not know...)

The Bistro- Did I mention that I love french tap dancing waiters? They danced as they served, and I noticed each one of them was en pointe, Bravo!, The chorus was perfect, they showed the general gaiety and pagentry known for 18th century Paris. Carlotta sang, and with everytime she trilled her eyes would go wide and roll back into her head, which was hilarious. Phillipe was drinking nervously throught the scene, this will come into play in a moment.

Melodie - Reprise. - I noticed the odd absense of The Phantom during this scene, but I am sure Kelby would have pissed me off anyway but the company was spot on with Christine, and I realized that at the end, she had made up her own cadenza, Which was a treat to hear, How can I describe it, but something like Claire Moore's cadenza at the end of the ALW Think Of Me.

Who Could Ever Have Dreamed Up You? - The only thing that stood out to me, which explained this song, in a way I have never seen it potrayed. Phillipe was DRUNK! He was sh**faced drunk! That is how he played it! And oddly, it worked, and Christine drank as well. Which oddly had the scene make sense, as he kept refilling her glass, When Erik appeared at the end of this scene, He had a boquet of roses for Christine, but he dropped them.. and quietly left as Phillipe and Christine kissed.

This Place Is Mine - Reprise - Rita owned the stage again with this short reprise, they flipped around the dressing table and mirror, so that one side was Christine and the other were Carlotta, and it made sense and worked for the staging. During the little scene between Erik and Christine, you can tell he wanted to leave quickly, but what I liked was when Phillipe and Christine kissed the Mirror showed Erik wearing the famous bloody tear mask.


The Fairy Queen - Ugh, I despise this scene. It makes more sense for the last three productions I saw to use Faust, Which I was sad this one didnt. At any rate, Ledoux also played Oberon, which worked, the only way I could tell was his movements, I doubt anyone else noticed, The chandelier was downright horrible. It wasnt anything big or glamorous, it was one of those brass chandeliers you hang over your dinner table, no crystals, just brass. Ick. It fell with pyrotechnics going off around it, and in the ensuing darkness, Kelby noisily got on the stool again, the chandelier still dangling and swinging a inch above his head, and proceeded to mess up the reprise of Where in The World by cracking in the most important parts. "Make, Her Mine" all three. CRACK, CRACK, CRACK. I pondered if he and Carlotta had switched places? I was furious by intermission, If anyone recalls the Takarazuka production of this, IF A CHICK can sing this song without cracking, Why cant he? I asked a friend in the company if the possibility was of Kelby being sick, He said No. He was always like that. ....Equity casting... GRRRRRR!

ACT TWO:

Without Your Music/The Story of Erik.

We open to the familiar sound sounds of a fog machine spewing out ground fog as in the darkness we see the Alcolytes moving the candleabra's around the stage into position, they move them around the stage three times in a full stage circle. Slowly. (*My brain insterted the ALW Title song here.because of it..*) Kelby rowed in on the mechanical boat, (Sadly you could hear the motor) This is proabably the only place where I liked him. Instead of blasting this out like many do, He sang it almost entireley in a whisper.including the last note. I highly approved of this. But he didnt do anything except sing, drop her in the bed gently, sing and turn away. No.. attempted caress or anythign like that. Kinda bothered. Gerard came in and they duked it out verbally. However my friend who accompanied me to this, had said Gerard was watching Erik the whole time during the song, Which was a cool add in, in my opinion. George Champion is a GREAT Gerard. He truly expressed the feelings of the character in this scene well including weeping at the perfect times, true emotions, I didnt notice right away, but the picture of Belladova was actually behind us. (From the door from the lobby, on the left hand side. right behind us) and i noticed right away soemthing interesting, Belladova was Japanese! She resembled Christine slightly, but not dead on like in other productions, Which was a nice change. I can understand the reasons they did this. I think instead of the Oedpius ties, they were trying to emphasize the beauty of the person, The inner goodness, not just the fact that... In a ..less academic view, Erik wants to get his jollys off with Mama. Anyway! Back to this tale. Christine woke up completely freaked out and in wonder. Similar to Josette Day in La Belle Et La Bete, upon wandering the castle. But in this case, wandering Erik's home. And she runs into Gerard, and thus came the story of Erik, It was told through the use of Ballet and pantomime, and all the ballet was done en pointe. I approve. Genevieve Mariko Wilson as Belladova and Young Carriere as played by Whitney Ackerman were very real and moving. I find it interesting the portion of Erik's story that takes place in the church with Belladova praying,and the nuns surrounding her, Is very creepy and gothic, It reminded me a great deal of the Church scene from Faust. Which I think in a way it is supposed to, No matter twas very effective. When little Erik entered, I started crying. I happen to have a very deep kinmanship with Erik, and I understand him. I myself was born with facial deformities. Tanner Arden was heartwrenching as little Erik, and I have a feeling if he continues to act he will go far. When they mentioned Belladova dying, He began crying himself. I could see the tears from where I was sitting, and I could tell this kid wasnt crying on command, That scene was very intense and emotional. and when he sees his own face, He lets out a shriek, and moved to a corner of the stage, curled into a ball and began rocking himself. I doubt there was a dry eye in that theater. That, ladies and gentleman, is what started me in my process of turning into a sobbing mess for the rest of the performance.

The Death of Carlotta.

This was handled just like in the script. Which I admit botheres me. It never makes sense to me as to why he electrocutes her. It makes no damn logical sense, and how would there be a convient live wire there? *Shakes head* I would have preferred him picking her up and throwing her or something, or hanging her. Well, Kelby finally emoted in this scene.. Oh wait, nevermind. He SHOUTED some of his lines, Not projected but shouted in a way that would hurt the voice, It wasnt even in his tone either that he was angry, he just.. shouted. Rita was doing her best to act with him here, and I applaud her for that. She did a very realistic death scene, as they used pyros and strobelights, and I will describe it as best as I can, As she shocks, The stobes go off, the way they did it was she was shaking quickly, which as I am sure those of you who play with strobelights, this makes it look slow and like she is being really shocked, But also they set up something in her wig, which made it seem her hair was momentarily ablaze, Nice touch. Kelby attempted some poor manaical laughter as the scene darkened. (BY poor, he sounded more like Woody The Woodpecker than The Phantom of The Opera.)





My True Love.


Oh how I envy Erik in this scene, I admit whenever I hear a Christine sing this, I get jealous and Heather Lundstedt has to be the best version I have ever heard, With its sweet innocence was also a lurking sensuality, She moved cautiously, but the effect of this only added more sensual prowess to her, She stopped being a girl and became a woman during this scene. She embraced Erik and Kelby sat there like a limp rag doll, and she tried to waltz with Erik, which was very awkward and sweet, but she even grabbed the sides of his head as though ready to kiss him, but she loosened up and sang with a emotion that I believe any man who has ever loved would weep to hear. I cried because of the beauty of it, and out of envy for that bastard onstage. Her blocking reminded me of when I did the show during my high school years at a local community theater in Monterey, I was fortunate enough to play Erik. But my point here is, her blocking was fresh and yet sweetly familiar, like hearing a song you loved long ago once again. When Erik unmasked himself I didnt expect the makeup that I saw. They handled the staging well. It was Lerouxish, skeletel in some places, and yet more like a nasty burn in others. Fitting, but Kelby didnt seem to know what to do with it, He gasps when Christine leaves, they handled the staging well. She exited the aisle right beside us, He unmasked himself upstage from where I was sitting and then when Christine ran, he turned around and those on my side could see it. Again, I wept at her screams.


My Mother Bore Me.

My favorite poem! The Little Black Boy by William Blake, which was changed for this song. I was extremely pissed off. He DIDNT UNDERSTAND THE SONG ONE BIT! He just sang it looking down, There was no emotion. Like he was sight reading it for the first time, and he even cracked in places. For those of you who know SylentPhantom my dear friend, He can sing this song like no other. Even Richard White in all his glottling glory sang this much better than this gentleman, and in the end, I found out something funny, He approached the fast section towards the end of "MY CHRISTINE" without breathing properly and because of it, He had to stop and pant like Michael Crawford did when the boat failed to work, He lost many words cause of this, and missed the note horribly. Oy.

Backstage Scenes:
Phillipe is sitting in the dressing room. I think the director didnt want us to like this character at all, because he was really greasy. He acted all.. "Oh Christine, I have been worried about you!" When she popped up in the mirror, when he actually was sitting in the dressing room, looking at her costumes, He even had to throw aside a corset. (If that doesnt say horn dog what does?!) Gerard tries to help her, but she WALKED TO THE MIRROR AND STARTED BANGING ON IT! She actually wanted to go back!


Erik came up, and tries to kidnap Christine, ironic that she would want to go with him, but Monsieur Greaseball, tries to pull her back and Erik slugged him in rather sloppy way. So, the cops come in and Erik gets shot. Not much there, it happened so fast they really should have paced it a little more slower so we could make notes! But So, Gerard started wandering around the theater looking for Erik. and so, he finds him. Bloody shirt and all. I kind of missed Charles Dance's sad wheezin and coughing, but meh.

You Are My Own.

Oh. My God. George Champion has a gorgeous voice. He reminded me of Norman Large, who I saw with Christopher Carl as Erik. When he sang, His voice broke on the first word with emotion, as he was trying to find the proper way to explain this, that he was his father. I wish they gave Tony awards to moving performances, because this man deserved a award. Dont get me started on Kelby.


Erik's Death.

They did the basic running around, Erik was on a rope and Gerard shoots him as you all know, Kelby landed with a very nasty smack onto the stage, George wins further points for me by yelling at Ledoux "He is my son!" and Ledoux backed up.. and Heather came up and sang beautifully through tears, and.. she did something that made me weep for the fifth and final time. She kissed Erik on the lips.


Curtain Call:

Standing ovations for all. Kelby and Heather were waltzing at the exit music, which was very cute, but after meeting some of the cast, congratulating Heather, during which I recieved a shock "Oh thanks but if you cant tell I am sick as a dog." Sylent and I looked at each other and went.. "Wuh!? Your sick?! But.. that was so beautiful!" She smiled and hugged us as best she could without infecting us, and we left.


TheMaskedLion

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Re: Glendale Glendale Centre Theatre Y/K (Sept 22nd 2008

Post  Blind Phan on Sat Oct 03, 2009 8:57 am

Wow! Awesome! That sounds like a really great production! And I'd love to get a chance to hear that Christine! She sounds so much better than the chick on the soundtrack! I'm sorry the Phantom sucked so much though. How totally disappointing! He has such great songs too! And I get what you mean about the acalites(sp?) too. Neh! It's much more effective if Erik's alone. It's much more in keeping with the emotional content of the story. I've never seen this production staged though, and now I'd be really interested to! The staging and such sounds really neat!

And yeah, My True Love and My Mother Bore Me are my two favourite songs from this version too, although I can't stand the way the chick on the soundtrack sings the former! Wonderful words though! Now if only her character had had the guts to back it up once the mask came off. That's really cool that they used a Leroux-based deformity. Did it actually work? I mean, did it actually look real and not cartoonish or otherwise overdone? Personally I kind of like it better when they leavve the deformity up to the audience's imagination, but I see how that would be hard to do in a theatre-in-the-round setting.

Anyway, awesome! I wish a production of this version would come anywhere near me!

Blind Phan

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