POTO World Tour, Istanbul, May 2015 (Little, Lynn/Holden, Downing)

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POTO World Tour, Istanbul, May 2015 (Little, Lynn/Holden, Downing)

Post  operafantomet on Tue May 19, 2015 7:33 am


PHANTOM: Brad Little
CHRISTINE: Emilie Lynn / Kristi Holden (alt.)
RAOUL: Anthony Downing
CARLOTTA: Sarah-Jane Rennie (u/s) / Sophie Viskich (u/s)
FIRMIN: Ernst van Looy
ANDRÉ: Jason Ralph
MEG GIRY: Eleanor Waite
PIANGI: Thabiso Masemene

Zorlu is a cool place, part posh boutiques, part shopping mall, part cinema, part huge-ass modern theatre. The whole area had been thoroughly Phantomized, with Phantom music playing, large masks everywhere, posters, costumes on display, whatnot. I FELT AT HOME. Also big shoutout to very helpful staff.

The scene is fairly large, got Neue Flora vibes. The proscenium have the side sculptures with additional drapes, I’m guessing it’s because the stage is so wide and the proscenium isn’t blocking for any side boxes (those were used for technical stuff and subtitles).

The Istanbul audience… *sigh* The amount of mobile phones, cameras and selfie sticks used DURING THE SHOW was very surprising. A person behind me fired away with flash during Masquerade and Notes II. When I asked her to stop she looked absolutely amazed. On another performance the mother and two teenage daughters was on their mobile ALL THROUGH THE FIRST ACT, until I told them it was highly disturbing sitting behind them and only see their glowing Instagram screens. They too could not understand the problem (but stopped). Not to mention the blabbering, and the total lack of response of what happened on stage. The theatre was stunning, it’s so sad the audience didn’t contribute to the awesomeness. Personal theory? The Istanbul audience treated it like being at a rock concert, not a theatrical event. That said, the applause after the show was great, always ending in standing ovation.

Ian Jon Bourg is a fab auctioneer. I mean, it felt like just as much waste of talent as Earl Carpenter as the auctioneer in the RAH version. But he really milked the part, and the man knows how to create suspense, increasing volume, getting more and more spooky. Already at the first chords in Raoul’s singing I noticed how the theatre had an impressive suspense and surround sound. Anthony Downing was a very believable old Raoul, not overly dramatic, but an old, broken down man.

LOVING this theatre’s sound system. Deep, awesome sound in the Overture. Also, the chandelier had some flash effect being in sync with the chandelier before rising, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. Happened for all three shows, so it wasn’t just by accident.

Oh hellooooo costume porn. The WT costumes has always looked kinda… bleak? in photos. That’s because of the amount of gold. And all the gold shines like a crazy ass Byzantine mosaic on stage, what a sight. Lovely.

Noticed a tendency here - everyone delivered their lines with such a genuinity, like they spoke it for the first time, really thinking about its meaning. That made the scene - and the show - appear so fresh. It was also nice how they kinda slowed and toned down the ballet, like the dialogues were not really intended for us, we’re just eardropping, and then the music comes back in full force at the end of the ballet. Just details like that. Mona Botha was on as Hannibal Princess. She is TINY.

Tina Walsh was exceptionally good with moving around the stage, instructing the ballet girls in detail. She also waved Meg over to correct her hand movements, in which Christine disappears, and when they notice they talk about it. More tiny but really good details.

I saw Emilie Lynn for two performances, and Kristi Holden for one. Emilie Lynn is tall! Yay tall Christines. I believe Kristi Holden danced en pointe, while Emilie Lynn did not.

Firmin actually pulled out a notepad and pencil and started writing down auditorium specifics, counting seats, to underline his financial interest. Tina Walsh’s Madame watched with disgust, and even more so when he applauded at the wrong place when Carlotta sang.

Carlotta stood REALLY close to the backdrop, and it fell to the floor with quite a speed, kinda bouncing up again from the floor. WOW. Also, a shout-out to Thabiso Masemene’s very offended exit. And Lefevre is heading for Antalya…

Emilie Lynn has a lovely, light voice. Vocially I was really impressed. But then there’s her acting. IT’S PHENOMENAL. She treats each word like it just came into mind, she underlines what she thinks is important, she put emphasis on selected parts. This brings both dynamic and genuinity to her singing. It gives her a nice innocense too. So also in Think of Me.

Kristi Holden also has a lovely voice. She brings a more mature approach to the role, in a way, she’s more controlled and less experimental. She was not in top shape after having had a cold, what I saw of her in Las Vegas definitely displayed a vocally super steady voice, while she here held back quite a bit to not crack. But she delivered.

Managers freezes in the box when Raoul sings (a part of the international directing). I’ve always loved this detail, as it gives me the impression we’re hearing Raoul’s inner thoughts rather than him standing in the box, shouting about a distant past.

Mme Giry gave Christine a kiss on both cheeks (another international directing detail). Very French. Same with the stagehand carrying ladder, flirting with the ballet girls. OK, so these are some of the nicest Degas costumes I’ve ever seen. Not way too stiffened, like in Copenhagen, or too limpy and heavy, like in the US. Just very bouncy and nice and tailored and period looking. Bliss.

Eleanor Waite had a surprisingly sweet and tender voice. Almost too low key, but I liked it. And FAB Elissa skirt! Emilie Lynn kept impressing me with her phrasing and her way of underlining words. Kristi Holden came off as more secretive.

The Degas routine was perfection. Much because of Tina Walsh’s absolute presence and instructions, but also because everyone was well drilled.

Loved that Christine and Meg jumped high when Madame Giry banged her cane outside the door. Meg an annoyed «always rehearsals», while Christine giggled. Sweet.

Noticed Emilie Lynn had a glass of water at the boudoir which she drank off when Raoul sends the manager’s away. Kristi Holden did not.

This scene was played out very well. Anthony Downing’s Raoul spoke the word slowly, like he’s encouraging Christine to continue the story, and she spoke in the same way, first confused, then very happy.

DEGAS ROUTINE, THOUGH! Last ballerina off stage did a perfect Degas sculpture strut.

Again impressed by the volume of the theatre’s sound system. Awesome deep pulse.The Christines acted this scenes out fairly similar. Brad Little… Brad Little gave me goosebumps. So commanding and imposing. And the mirror effect was pretty flawless, you could hardly tell the mirror slide aside because of the nicely distributed smoke, but you could tell Christine’s reflection disappeared. Lovely. Then they were both covered by the cloak, and POOF! gone.

Always epic. Generous amount of smoke on stage, diving into the pit and the first rows. The candelabras comes sliding in from the stage WHILE rising. I like that better than the ones just sliding in. BUT it ruins Maria Bjørnson’s good trick of depth. When the candelabras rise in the middle of the stage and then moves out to the sides, it gives the audience an impression of the boat traveling a lot longer than it does. This trick is lost with the candelabras moving in the opposite direction.

Brad Little’s hand movements, though!!! Both when commanding the boat to turn, and when commanding Christine to sing by first touching his own lips, like he was breathing music into his hand, then stretching the hand towards her, touching her mouth, resulting in the title song cadenza. Beautiful.

Epic hat throwing and cloak twirl too.

Yeah, so Brad Little’s voice. He has to work for every note, and don’t have a smooth middle register. He takes long pauses ahead of the «difficult» notes. But… his acting. When people act this out with every fibre in their body, when every movement appears to have a meaning, when the actor has dug down to the core of the role… Then I’m willing to forgive a lot in the singing. And Brad Little really owned this scene. The almost-kiss was brilliantly executed, especially when Emilie Lynn’s Christine didn’t realize the kiss didn’t happen and kept waiting for it, leaning in, arms out.

Speaking of Emilie Lynn, she comes up to Mia Karlsson level of Christines really acting out and adding nuances in MOTN. I’m amazed by those managing to make the scene their own when not singing a word. Then again, there’s a whole song about what someone else what you to experience, you darn better react.

And yeah, great mirror bride.

Lots and lots and lots of alternate phrasing from Brad Little here, and I loved it so. Good acting from both Emilie Lynn and Kristi Holden here, looking at each thing they were singing about: mist… lake… boat… man… Leading our gaze around stage. Brad Little’s Phantom let out a long scream like a hurt animal when unmasked. He actually performed the scene similar to Flemming Enevold, which was interesting. Also interesting phrasing at times in the singing.

Mask back in the flash of a second, almost looks like he just presses it against his face and it sticks. Cool.

Nothing new to add here, really. Tina Walsh really is a solid Madame Giry, she feels like a solid anchor all through the show. Never overly dramatic or wannabe mysterious, just a no-nonsense Madame. Also, no trap door for the doubles.

Jason Ralph (André) is fascinating. He has light speaking voice, but a very dark singing voice for André. When he goes from talking to singing it’s almost hard to think it’s the same person. He plays a slightly flamboyant, but totally not over-the-top André, artistic, passionate about the arts. Ernst van Looy’s Firmin is rather traditional, the money-counting clever businessman. But also here with many small nuances making all the difference.

Speaking of nuances, this scene was probably where it was most noticeable this really was a WORLD TOUR cast. So many different English accent on one stage. Ernst van Looy had an americanized accent with Dutch undertones. Jason Ralph had the unmistakeable South African accent under his posh britishness. Sarah-Jane Rennie sounded Kiwi allright, while Sophie Viskich pulled a GREAT Italian accent. Interesting to listen to.

The World Tour drapes seemed somewhat heavier and bigger than other productions? Not sure. But it looked beautiful.

Need to mention Tina Walsh again. To me the role of Madame Giry is mostly noticeable if the portrayal/voice/actress doesn’t click with me. If she’s good, she’s kinda just adding to a good show. With Tina Walsh she feels like the one anchoring the scenes she’s in. Her presence is absolute. She gives them credibility.

And a shout-out to Eleanor Waite’s «She needed rest», saying it very determined, like she’s amazed the others does not understand this. Also very protective.

The notes voiceover and ditto choreography was spot on.

Very big difference between the Carlottas here. Sarah-Jane Rennie is tiny (my oh my, that bustle looked like it was about to drown her), and did a fairly angry Carlotta. Sophie Viskich seemed to have more going on. She milked the comedy more, pouting Rachel Anne Moore style, acting like a natural star, claiming the attention. She also had a GREAT Italian accent. Of the two I found her portrayal more interesting to watch. That’s not to say Sarah-Jane Rennie wasn’t good, however. Just more conventional.

This had a good opera flair to it, in acting and singing. The costumes were sharp, dominated by black and white with a hint of purple, and with someone understanding historical fashion. Don Attilio’s justaucorps and red heels, plus Carlotta’s deshabille, was very convincing. I did not, however, like Christine’s Maid skirt. Flat and very pastel-y. OK, enough costume nerding…

Aaaah, more of the international directing. Love it. Includes a tiny dialogue between the two featured dancers (the two flirting with the shepherd, to no avail) - «Did you see that?» «Yes, I did!» while dancing and smiling. And also a bit of interacting between shepherd and one of the dancers in front. And GORGEOUS costumes.

Also André fumbling in his programme to find out what bloody act the ballet is in, and hiding behind the programme when finally getting off stage.

The Phantom shadow was bolder in movements than I’m used to, bigger cloak twirls, more cracked neck when imitating being hanged. Which was cool. Apparently the Phantom double lost his hat at the May 10 performance, but I didn’t notice at all, hahaha.

Still no trapdoors, instead everyone runs on and off stage. The World Tour rooftop dresses are gigantomatic, the cloak actually seemed to small for it… Emilie Lynn had a pinkish dress, Kristi Holden a blue/greenish one (hard to say with the cool «moonlight» lighting in this scene). Emilie Lynn did one of the most beautiful «soaaar» I’ve heard in a long, long time. What a light, lovely touch to her voice.

Emilie Lynn wiped off tears during «let daylight dry your tears», that was a touching feature. Both combos acted this scene out well, Kristi Holden being the more vulnerable of the Christines, Emilie Lynn the more responsive. I loved how Emilie’s Christine kinda kneeled down with Raoul at the proposal. Speaking of Raoulm Anthony Downing is a super solid, handsome, well singing Raoul. I love how he has a dark, strong singing voice, very classical in style.

Uh-no. Brad Little should not do a whole song falsetto. Not good. not good. Kinda Hugh Jackman «Bring Him Home» style. He should transpose it down, like Preben Kristensen did. But the end of the scene, with him standing up, eyes and mouths of the Golden Angel glowing, and him imitating its pose when holding the note forever and ever, was awesome shit.

Chandelier falled slowly, slowly in the vertical drop, but does a rapid swing in towards stage, and it’s kinda slammed down on stage (Copenhagen style). The chandelier is more collapsable, more tilted, so it really looks like it crashed. Me like.

Zorlu is a great place to be an audience. Like Neue Flora in Hamburg there’s multiple bars, multiple souvenir stands, multiple sitting groups, there’s space. Very modern and comfortable venue. And masks everywhere!

A shout-out for the conductor. He seemed in full control and was good with slowing down at given places and adding volume and tempo at others. Those not loving the super speedy West End way of conducting would have loved this. The Entr’acte was beautiful (and believe me, I don’t always pay attention to that one nowadays).

Looked like André was about to spit out his drink at «Phantom isn’t here…». The revealing of the staircase was one of few things really getting the attention of the Istanbul audience, with gasps and mumbling. Nice. But of course, it also meant 1/3 of the audience pulled out their cameras…

HEY HO COSTUME PORN. All the gold and glitter can make the World Tour costumes comes off as kinda bleak in photos. But on stage they glittered like New Year’s Eve fireworks. Looks like Emilie Lynn has inherited Claire Lyon’s star skirt. It glitters nicely, but the top layer looks to small for the rest of the skirt, and it wrinkles and pulls up when Christine is twirling.

I noticed Eleanor Waite’s Meg did the same «can can kicks» in Masquerade as Jennifer Wagstaffe in Copenhagen did. ALWAYS been curious about where that came from, as I have frankly not noticed it in other productions. It wasn’t as «can can» as Wagstaffe did it, but still same choreography.

The various formations of groups was very underlined her, maybe because the stage was so big. Nice.

I missed the more dangerous nerve to the scene. Everyone seemed very jolly and carefree, even Christine surrounded by dancers and cloaked men. I wish she’d seem more distressed by it all. But nice seeing Tina Walsh’s madame trying to pull Raoul aside to talk some words of wisdom with him, with him just disappearing out of her grip. DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU!

Brad Little seemed to have a blast as Red Death. He really went for it, scaring those standing in the staircase, pretending to throw the score elsewhere, turning his head like a preying bird spots his victim. Also super impressive costume, so large, so well tailored. Boom.

No trap door here either, of course, but the explosion and disappearance was well done with cast members covering his escape from stage.

Nothing to add, except Tina Wash and Anthony Downing really are super solid in their respective roles.

Nice chaos here, lots of score throwing, large arms. Christine here actually seemed proud to have landed the leading role? Not distressed about it, as many others perform it. And she was mortally offended when Carlotta said Christine wasn’t up for it. Sophie Visich’s Carlotta did a lot of whispering and gossiping with Piangi. Thabiso Masemene’s Piangi seemed to like the plotting and snickering.

I found both Christines a bit too dramatic in the «Twisted Every Way» scene. I mean, the singing was beautiful, but there’s limit to how much you can stumble into the chair without looking like a drama queen. I assume it’s in the directing since both did it. It was, however, GREAT to see Kristi Holden in the complete scene after seeing the shortened Vegas scene.

Sophie Visich’s Carlotta kinda nodded to Piangi to give her approval when he wanted to go over and plead Christine to sing to save them all. You could see it cost her all her willpower, and she did the nice pouty thing again.

Loved how Christine came running in late and really expressing she was aware she was late, wondering how she’d cover it up, only to be handed the score by Meg so she could sing the phrase standing. I know this is the usual blocking, but it was more fleshed out. Thanbiso Masemene didn’t really flesh out as much as he could here, rather the comedy was in the ensemble and their reaction after Madame questioning if the copmpser weren’t there - everybody looked up at the chandelier and shuddered, only to jump high when Reyer clapped his hands.

Whoever played the 1st violin in Istanbul deserves all the praise in the world! Throughout the show in general, but in the WYWSHA intro in particular, doing the syncoped version to alternate the rhythm a bit. I love that detail to pieces.

Kristi Holden was gorgeous in this scene. Her Christine has a vulnerability to her, and it really showed here. It also seemed her voice by now had warmed up nicely, after having held back a bit in the first act. She gave it all here.

Emilie Lynn also sung very well here, and showed more of an inner conflict. Also nice detail of running towards the grave, about to grab the iron fence, but then instead making a gesture if it had burned her palms. Don’t know if the description makes sense…

Both Christines got a solid applause.

Emilie Lynn’s acting in this scene was beautiful. She wasn’t quite in trance, but it was like she was noticing she was about to go there, and fought so hard to not end up there, with all the tricks she knew. But all the determination in the world could not save her, she turned towards her angel and was sucked into his world again. Kristi Holden was more of a wandering child, not fighting as hard, more melancholic.

The fire shooting stick was nicely beefed up, you could tell the people down on the floor were actually dodging it at times.

I will never get tired of seeing the lamplighter light the front light of the stage. A totally unnecessary but mood creating detail.

Thabiso Masemene’s Piangi has such a light voice. Just like I don’t expect André to have a dark, full voice, I’m not used to Piangis with light voices. But interesting change.

Ooooh, GREAT Brad Little scene, this. You can tell immediately that this is not Piangi because A) this guy is a lot taller, B) Brad Little’s hands. I mean, c’mon. Underlining every word with his hands.

More of the international directing, especially in Christine «can can kick» and schmacking her heel down at the bench next to the Phantom. All the Copenhagen gals, and I believe all the current Hamburg gals, did/does this. It’s a funky lil’ detail.

Emilie did some awesome teasing when fleeing Don Juan and his attempt to lure her into the bedroom. She was standing at the side of the bench, leaning forwards, showing cleavage, almost wiggling her butt - both playful and very challenging in expression. I’ve never seen a Christine do this move before.

Beautiful unmasking. After the hood came off, it looked like the Phantom was about to hug Christine, which 1) occupied his arms so it made him all the more vulnerable, and 2) kinda echoed Raoul and his actions at the rooftop. And it makes the unmasking all the more dramatic, as what you thought was to be a hug results in a humiliating unmasking.

Dream role: Mad dresser. Enough said.

Sophie Visich’s Carlotta seemed heartbroken over Piangi being dead, yelling at André (YOU! You did this!), crying. Tina Wash’s Madame was once again the anchor of the show. I especially liked how she underlined to Meg «NO, Meg, no YOU stay HERE».

Meg’s costume is surprisingly beige/lavender coloured. I’m so used to bold golden/red shades. But the lavender ones is much in sync with the original West End costume.

I really don’t have anything to add here.

Raoul’s jump from the travellator seemed a lot higher than usual. Apparently because they don’t use a trap door here either, so he lands on a big mattress on stage?

Brad Little’s Phantom was very obsessed with making Christine the perfect bride, straghtening the veil, making her hold the buquet of flowers correct. Raoul comes running in from the side instead of through a trapdoor, and of course it’s exactly what the Phantom ordered.

If my mind is not deceiving me, Kristi Holden’s Christine tried to drag Raoul out of there ASAP, while Emilie Lynn’s Christine discussed more with him, looking to the left, looking to the right, debating what the best option would be. Both with same result, of course. Anthony Downing’s Raoul really struggled with that lasso.

A peculiar thing: in the first two performances Brad Little’s acting was the usual glee over the plan going as planned. On the third performance he suddently introduced the childish «galloping horses» at "...order your fine horses now", Norm Lewis style. What even?!? Got the feeling he keeps updated on what goes on other places in the world as well, and that for this performance he wanted to try this out. And it should be said: I saw him three nights arow, and not one performance was identical to the other. He’s still experimenting.

At the kiss Anthony Downing’s Raoul first looked with disbelief, struggling more than ever with the lasso, then he just turned away, heartbroken and appalled.

Kristi Holden’s kiss was kind of motherly, giving him all the warmth and love she felt he needed. Emilie Lynn’s kiss was also very warm, but the reaction afterwards was stunning. She was in disbelief over her own actions, and slowly took her hand up to her mouth, gently touching it, in which Brad Little did the same, and they just stood there staring at eachother, touching their lip. So much overtones and undertext here.

Kristi Holden’s return was «WATCH AND WEEP» worthy. She returned, gave the ring, they held hands, she tore away, mumbled (barely audible) «I love you too… I love you too», before stumbling out of there. Sigh.

Emilie Lynn returned a lot earlier, about the moment he started to sing to the monkey musical box, and just stood there watching him, teary eyed, and when he discovered here it was with all the joy in this world, only to be handed the ring. Oh pout.

More international staging: while the Phantom sobs over the veil, whispering «I love you… I love you…» we see Christine and Raoul in the backgroun, Raoul gently kissing Christine’s hand. Like, rub it in. Happiness, love, and one dying of a broken heart.

The throne disappearance was flawless. When you know how it’s done it’s easy to tell when the big trick happens. But Brad Little kinda kicked/twirled the cloak out one extra time, and when it landed he was long gone, so you don’t see knees disappearing. The audience seemed really surprised about the trick, yay, and Eleanor Waite got applause the second she kneeled with the mask rather than when the curtains had closed.

JEEEZ. This was good. This was like seeing the show… well, not for the first time, but with new eyes. I don’t know if it’s the fact that they move from country to country, getting new musicians and crew everywhere so they have to rehearse a lot, is what keeps it fresh, or if they have a particularly good in-house or overall director. Whatever it is, everything felt fresh, lines were delivered with genuinity, and the casting was overall so solid. And the VISUALS - stunning scenery and costumes.

I’m quite in love with the World Tour and its current cast.

You come off as... somewhat... rough...


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Re: POTO World Tour, Istanbul, May 2015 (Little, Lynn/Holden, Downing)

Post  Jennie on Tue May 19, 2015 8:04 pm

Am GREEN with envy over your seeing this in Istanbul! I really must cut down on work and take seeing Phantom more seriously...

Thank you for sharing and reviewing!


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Great Review

Post  PhantomLittle on Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:49 am

I've seen Brad Little as Phantom probably over 15 times. (Hence, the user name Wink ) This sounds a lot like the "old Brad" but I'm surprised he is having to work at certain notes....might be that he has gotten older. The acting as you've described is familiar and Brad seems to put something different into each show. So glad you got to see this in Istanbul! Really wish I could have a chance to see the World Tour!

Phantom Little


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Re: POTO World Tour, Istanbul, May 2015 (Little, Lynn/Holden, Downing)

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