London, 15th September - Nigel, Gina, Simon

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London, 15th September - Nigel, Gina, Simon

Post  Lycanthrope on Sun Oct 04, 2009 8:02 pm

I was lucky enough to see Nigel as the Phantom back in September - his Phantom is a marked contrast to Ramin's. I don't deny that Ramin is a very good Phantom and is passionate about the role but I can never truly believe he is the Phantom – more a handsome actor with a rock/pop voice acting the part - albeit doing a very good job of it. Nigel’s age – he’s in his forties – is noticeable and I felt throughout as if I were watching the show as it is supposed to be performed, as there was a sense of desperation and longing of the middle-aged Phantom as opposed to a youthful one for Christine. Nigel’s voice is a clear and strong baritone– he struggled a bit on the higher notes, making the AIAOY Reprise fascinating as the difficulty of the notes conveyed a sense of actual acute physical pain. His Mirror deserves a mention as it was excellent - the first lines dripping with hurt pride and anger, and his "I am your angel" lines were incredibly enticing due to the deepness of his voice - I'd go as far to say that they were perfect for my idea of the character! Nigel adopted a very pure tone in the title song which I think worked better than Ramin’s style. Wandering Child and PONR were beautiful as they fell within his more comfortable range. His MOTN was particularly interesting as he sang it in a staccato way, which was certainly different. What also made his MOTN stand out was that he “broke” with the conventional blocking– during the lead up to “soar” he almost surrounded Christine from both sides, pacing around her, going quite far stage right which I haven’t seen before.
Although it was clear that Nigel’s Phantom is still a work-in-progress – there were a few technical “errors” such as he slipped with the pole in the title song, you could see him flitting around on the proscenium arch in Il Muto (which was surprisingly effective!) and some mistakes in the lyrics, his acting has some lovely touches. For example, he gasped in the Final Lair at the line “This haunted face holds no horror for me now” – gasped in surprise and delight, as if Christine had overcome his disfigurement – which made the next line all the more effective. His Phantom is particularly dignified, which I think is sometimes lacking in Ramin’s interpretation when Ramin goes a little OTT (growling in Wandering Child, growling before Down Once More, evil cackling in Seal My Fate), which, although effective, doesn’t quite match my idea of the character. Although I loved Nigel’s snarky approach to the character in all the voiceovers, I felt that his Final Lair was a little on the underdeveloped side compared to others I’ve seen, most notably Ramin’s whose Final Lair is probably the best I’ve witnessed. Nonetheless I loved some of his acting choices, such as not even showing his face to Raoul when and during he lets him in through the portcullis and staying in the throne for the whole time, displaying his contempt for Raoul. Moreover, the overriding emotion was how much Nigel’s Phantom is enamoured by Christine – the only point at which he screamed was at the line “Why make her lie to you to save me” and almost hit Raoul. This sentiment towards Christine was emphasised throughout the show – when revealed in the Mirror Nigel’s Phantom was ecstatic, transfixed and beholding Christine, which continued into the title song, and during Wandering Child he moved from the cross to be parallel with Gina whilst coaxing her towards him. Despite these touches I didn’t feel the performance was quite complete although I did have tears in my eyes; his "Christine, I love you" in the Final Lair was soft, wavering and full of emotion to the point his voice was cracking, but I guess at that point that's acceptable.
But no doubt Nigel’ll improve as he goes on with the role – considering I saw one of his first performances, I think he did extraordinarily well! Plus he delivered what to my ears was the perfect delivery of “Now you cannot ever be free” in STYDI, which is very rarely played right.
As for the other cast members, Gina seemed a bit off during the first act – though her high notes were fine AOM for example sounded a little weak. However the second act was a great improvement and WYWSHA was brilliant, although she does have a tendency to overact, which makes Christine a little bit of an unsympathetic drama queen! Simon was quite a surprise – I thought him a far too shouty Raoul back in October last year, but he’s improved a hundredfold and is a strong Raoul. I loved his ad-libbing in the Final Lair where he responded to “The world showed no compassion to me” with “oh please” before continuing on with his lines – the sarcasm worked really well.
Rebecca Lock is a good new Carlotta, she seemed to struggle slightly with the high notes but otherwise sounded lovely, and played up the comic potential. Barry James and Gareth Snook work really well together respectively.
I don’t see what the big fuss is about how bad Nicky Adams is as Madame Giry; sure, she’s not quite Heather Jackson but she seemed perfectly fine, though her acting was a little stiff. The only weird thing for me was the fact that she was my first Christine!

Overall it was an incredibly interesting show, which ensures I'll be seeing this cast again - it'll be fascinating to see how Nigel's interpretation develops as well as all the other cast members.

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Re: London, 15th September - Nigel, Gina, Simon

Post  EarlFan on Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:21 pm

A lovely review! It seems that Nigel adds some interesting touches to his interpretation as the Phantom. I hope I will get the chance to see him in the role. Nice that he's a bit older too, I think that might make a big change compared to Ramin's Phantom.

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Re: London, 15th September - Nigel, Gina, Simon

Post  MasqPhan on Sun Oct 04, 2009 10:54 pm

I enjoyed your review. I'd like to be able to see him as the Phantom. He sounds interesting.

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Re: London, 15th September - Nigel, Gina, Simon

Post  Helen on Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:03 pm

Nonetheless I loved some of his acting choices, such as not even showing his face to Raoul when and during he lets him in through the portcullis

Interesting, I don't think I've seen a Phantom do that before. He sounds like a really great Phantom, and quite different from Ramin Karimloo. Hopefully I'll get the chance to see him. Thanks for posting the review.

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Re: London, 15th September - Nigel, Gina, Simon

Post  Mandrake on Mon Oct 12, 2009 6:38 pm

I'm not a great fan of Gina Beck, I'm afraid- solely due to the overacting which I find really off-putting and distracting. Really nothing in the way of subtlety but I guess if you're performing live you have to exaggerate. Still, other Christines seem to manage to project a performance which seems more "real". Whenever I see her, I'm always very conscious that I'm watching an actress rather than a character, if that makes any sense. I just can't look at her during the Phantom's "beeeeeeeeeeeeeee" in MotN. I would always try to time visits to coincide with her days off, especially when Robyn North was still with the show and if I knew she was covering.

Though I think I'm out of step with the majority of opinion, as most people I've heard express an opinion tend to favour Gina. She seems to be a favourite of many.

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Re: London, 15th September - Nigel, Gina, Simon

Post  Lycanthrope on Mon Oct 12, 2009 6:45 pm

Mandrake wrote:I'm not a great fan of Gina Beck, I'm afraid- solely due to the overacting which I find really off-putting and distracting. Really nothing in the way of subtlety but I guess if you're performing live you have to exaggerate. Still, other Christines seem to manage to project a performance which seems more "real". Whenever I see her, I'm always very conscious that I'm watching an actress rather than a character, if that makes any sense. I just can't look at her during the Phantom's "beeeeeeeeeeeeeee" in MotN. I would always try to time visits to coincide with her days off, especially when Robyn North was still with the show and if I knew she was covering.

Though I think I'm out of step with the majority of opinion, as most people I've heard express an opinion tend to favour Gina. She seems to be a favourite of many.

I don't think you're necessarily out-of-step, I agree with you...last October, perhaps when she was less "settled" in the role, there was a lot more subtlety in her approach. Now it makes Christine rather unsympathetic.

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Re: London, 15th September - Nigel, Gina, Simon

Post  Scorp on Mon Oct 12, 2009 7:47 pm

Thanks for this review!

Your comment about Nigel's performance being "dignified" is very interesting since Mark Shenton said exactly the same thing in his blog for The Stage. I'd love to see him in the role. Are there any definite dates for when he's on that we know of? A friend of mine really recommended him but as he's actually friends with Nigel I (probably unfairly) was a little suspicious of his review, but you've pretty much backed up everything he said.

I agree Simon has improved massively. I really like his Raoul now. (And yes, it was a bit shouty at the start, but nowhere near as shouty as Tim Martin Gleason's was!).

Slightly surprised by the comments about Gina Beck, and this is from someone who finds it incredibly difficult to warm to Christines. Can't say I've noticed the overacting but things might have changed over the last few months, who knows.

Has anyone seen Tabitha Webb perform lately? PLEASE tell me she's better than on that horrendous WYWSHA rendition from that Songs of Praise special...

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Re: London, 15th September - Nigel, Gina, Simon

Post  operafantomet on Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:31 pm

Scorp wrote:Has anyone seen Tabitha Webb perform lately? PLEASE tell me she's better than on that horrendous WYWSHA rendition from that Songs of Praise special...
I've heard her TOM, and it's rather lovely. But that WYWSHA scared me...

I must also say I find the "dignified" comment intriguing. Goooood, I long to see the London production again. Nnnnngaaah!

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Re: London, 15th September - Nigel, Gina, Simon

Post  starryeyed on Tue Oct 13, 2009 2:28 pm

Re: Gina I have found her really "inconsistent." She was fantastic the first time I saw her last October, she was the only Christine to make me cry during Wishing and her Final Lair was heartbreaking. The next time I went she was good, but not as good as October. Then around June this year I don't know what happened but I did not like her at all, lately however she seems to have went back to her portrayal of last year. My only complaint about her last performance was that she has went back to shaking Simon, and by shaking I mean grabbing both his shoulders and literally shaking him, quite a feat for such a small girl ha ha!

I think Gina when she is really on her game is my favourite Christine however Robyn is my true favourite Christine as she has always impressed me.

After reading this review I really want to see Nigel, he sounds interesting!

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Re: London, 15th September - Nigel, Gina, Simon

Post  Lycanthrope on Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:20 am

Thanks for the comments everyone! I did actually read Mark Shenton's blog after having written the review, and I did agree with what was said there. One thing I forgot to mention the review, which I really approved of: after being unmasked in the second act, Nigel instantaneously covered his face with one hand, which I thought really made sense, in addition to looking like a completely instinctive reaction. Plus, I've never seen any Phantom do that before.

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Re: London, 15th September - Nigel, Gina, Simon

Post  operafantomet on Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:50 am

Lycanthrope wrote:One thing I forgot to mention the review, which I really approved of: after being unmasked in the second act, Nigel instantaneously covered his face with one hand, which I thought really made sense, in addition to looking like a completely instinctive reaction. Plus, I've never seen any Phantom do that before.
Peter Jorde did that in Copenhagen once - but only because the Christine managed to slap off his mask when removing the hood, he-he. The mask went flying, and there was a (probably) akward moment on stage Laughing But they acted it out brilliantly, and the rapidly "covering the face with one hand" gesture really worked out well! I wish more did that.

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Re: London, 15th September - Nigel, Gina, Simon

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