The London production 1

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Post  Lycanthrope on Sun Feb 28, 2010 1:41 pm

I saw the production on Friday with David, Gina and Will Barratt as Raoul (I only realised it wasn't Simon in TOM as Will sounded very similar to Simon in the auction scene). Just a quick review of the few things I noticed: Will has probably the best voice of any Raoul I've seen and played a more gentle Raoul than Simon, though had some lovely Simonesque touches like tickling Gina in Little Lotte. He and Gina really went for the kiss in AIAOY, it took almost too long as they had to rush "Anywhere you go let me go too" because of it! Gina was fantastic, I have to admit; I must have seen an off-performance from her in September because she was vocally stunning on Friday and delivered a beautiful TOM, with an effortless cadenza and got cheers for it. WYWSHA had a similar reception. Her acting was also very good indeed - she's really fleshed out the character and was the most nervous of any Christine I've seen, pulling on Meg's arms when it's suggested that Christine should sing; she even missed out some of the words in the TOM intro due to nervousness.
David was interesting as the Phantom: his voice isn't my ideal idea of a Phantom's voice but he gets the hypnotic element right and delivers the "money notes" very well, but otherwise he seemed distinctly soft - or as others have said, restrained - especially in MOTN. I loved his slow, deliberate movements in MOTN and the way in which he stroked the air around Christine during the pose - obviously inherited from Earl Carpenter. His AIAOY Reprise was excellent in terms of the emotional hurt he conveyed through his voice, although I thought the transition to fury could have been better handled, as he just belted out "You will curse..." rather than imbuing it with any anger. Skipping on to Wandering Child, he handled the scene well, again emphasising the Phantom's hypnotic effect on Christine but his aim was very bad for the fireballs! The trio was beautiful though, it gave me chills for the first time (out of the ten times I've now seen the show). PONR was good, though I thought vocally David was belting a lot which seemed a bit out of place, and again I thought his Phantom is a little restrained say, compared to Ramin's, where the sensual element was much more stressed, though I do think that David's take is perhaps more in keeping with the character. Down Once More... was good, I would have liked to have seen David emoting a bit more but he got all the notes right, but the lack of emotion was more than made up for in the Final Lair. For, for the lines "This face...", he expressed the same emotional pain through his voice as he did in the AIAOY Reprise, which was really effective. Plus, rather than being annoyed by Raoul's entrance, he seemed more mildly irritated and delighted at being able to take advantage of Raoul's presence: he stole around the stage, checking from the throne that Raoul would not notice him getting the Punjab Lasso. His "You try my patience" were delivered excellently, at first he positively cackled (it sounds odd, but it worked, made the character unpredictable even though it was clear he was devastated at "You deceived me") and then delivered the lines in a deep, slow manner. The kiss was very passionate from Gina, David seemed overwhelmed as she hugged him and caressed the deformity. David seemed emotionally drained for the next lines, which worked, only breaking down on the last "Go now...", collapsing by the monkey and wimpering "Christine". The giving back of the ring was very emotional, he pushed Gina's arm down and sang "Christine, I love you" in a broken voice, and caressed her cheek. As Gina went away on the boat, it was pretty clear that she was looking back at David - very sad indeed. David delivered a very strong version of the final lines.

A few notes of things I noticed during the show: the show seemed very fast, which may have caused Gina, Rebecca and SJD to sing some lines off-key at points (Gina did this twice, once with "I Remember", then adjusted into a higher (but still incorrect) key, and with "The tears I might have shed". I remember Leila Benn Harris doing the same thing). There was also a mistake in Magical Lasso as when the Phantom and Christine are supposed to appear onstage from the trap door, only the Phantom came up - very late - and just stood for a few moments on stage, staring down the trap door for a Christine who never materialised! It was hilarious, but I don't know how many people noticed it. Also: has Gina got a new recording for the title song? It's better than the old one, me thinks, as she sounds quite hypnotised (for want of a better word), and really works.

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Post  auctioneer on Sun Feb 28, 2010 3:03 pm

Pound to a penny it was Keith Marshall conducting. When he gets the baton, the show flies. There are upsides to this -- the show has more energy, and you can usually catch your early train back home -- but downsides, too (as you've mentioned).

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Post  operafantomet on Sun Feb 28, 2010 5:51 pm

Not sure who was conducting in December, but I noticed some speediness in various numbers. I thought it was because I was used to Per Engström's tempo on Copenhagen. But maybe I had the same "speedy" conductor?

I didn't mind it, really, but I remember thinking that the dance sequence in Hannibal was very hectic.

Glad Gina Beck came off as more pleasant this time around. She impressed me greatly live. I also agree very much on your (positive and negative) comments on Will Barratt and David Shannon.

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Post  Trilby on Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:07 pm

Hi! I'm new and have a question already :-) Does Scott Davies have a fix day where he plays the Phantom?
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Post  SenorSwanky on Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:25 pm

Trilby wrote:Hi! I'm new and have a question already :-) Does Scott Davies have a fix day where he plays the Phantom?
Not on a regular basis, if that's what you mean. The standby isn't an alternate like the Christine alternate. But often members of this board will hear when Davies is scheduled to go on if the production knows in advance when David Shannon will be off.
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Post  operafantomet on Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:27 pm

Trilby wrote:Hi! I'm new and have a question already :-) Does Scott Davies have a fix day where he plays the Phantom?
Not as far as I know, no. But he's announced the dates he's playing so far, hopefully he'll continue doing that.

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Post  Trilby on Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:34 pm

okay - thanks for the quick reply
I'll be in London only for one day - May 11 - so let's hope. I would love to see him again after ... 9 years! Shocked
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Post  PMB1034 on Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:25 am

For my birthday I'm doing LND on the 29th March (sorry!) staying overnight and then taking in the Tues 30th March POTO matinée. Either way it'll be special but I'm also hoping for Scott Davies - he is the only Phantom I've ever seen live, at Birmingham Hippodrome in '98 I think, so I think it would give things a nice symmetry. Plus I work at the Manchester Opera house and last year I had the pleasure of hearing Scott sing the title song live in a 'The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber' concert, I even skipped my break to see it! And I just get a kick out of seeing someone different to the norm anyway because I'm weird that way...feels more special.
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Post  starryeyed on Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:42 am

Oh lots of new people (and Scott fans - I like!) Well in March Scott's confirmed dates are 19th and 20th (maybe 18th too I've forgotten now) but sometimes he seems to be on quite a bit unplanned so you never know! I heard him sing MOTN in Christmas at the Musicals and I've wanted to see him since. I think it's a credit to him that one song can just convince you so much - it also helps that I usually hate MOTN and he is the only person I've seen who makes it such a beautiful song.

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Post  auctioneer on Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:27 pm

Dolly-ry, that's so funny -- although I've been going to Phantom for years and love the show, I'm usually bored by MotN. I guess it's a guy thing. I'm not really into the whole thing, so I usually spend the time checking out what else is happening on the stage, in the pit, in the wings, etc (if I can see anything interesting). Interestingly, though, I found that Ramin managed to keep my attention more than most recent Phantoms, especially in his early days.

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Post  starryeyed on Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:38 pm

Auctioneer, I am glad someone else is bored by it (well it's a shame we are bored by it) as whenever I mention it to someone the reply is always "how one earth can Music of the Night bore you?" I don't know what it is about it, sometimes like you i'll look in the wings etc but sometimes I really, really zone out and it's actually the sound of the monkey music box that brings me back round (and Christine funnily enough!)

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Post  auctioneer on Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:52 pm

Maybe it's just because the song is sooooo long, and I'm a Christine fan more than a Phantom fan (again, my case, maybe a guy thing). You can usually catch a few sneaky things, though, if you know where to look.

Any scuttlebutt on happenings in London these days? It seems the other boards have a lot of news on LND (which I try to ignore). Any news, Dolly-ry, on comings and goings in the cast? We're over half way through this cast year. I would love to see us keep Gina (though we won't, I'm sure -- she's done her time) and Rebecca (though she seems to be thinking of moving on, from all reports). I'd like to see Philip Griffiths get his long-deserved promotion to Andre, too.

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Post  Helen on Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:01 am

We're over half way through this cast year. I would love to see us keep Gina (though we won't, I'm sure -- she's done her time) and Rebecca (though she seems to be thinking of moving on, from all reports). I'd like to see Philip Griffiths get his long-deserved promotion to Andre, too.

I can't believe it's halfway through the cast year already. It doesn't seem that long! I'd love to see Philip Griffiths as Andre. I always turn up at the theatre half hoping that he'll be on, but it's never happened. Maybe next time.

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Post  Scorp on Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:04 am

I get bored by MotN too sometimes. I find the song generally quite overrated, not sure why it is so incredibly popular with fans. The only times I have found it enthralling and have paid 100% attention are when it's performed by MC or JOJ.

And now, thanks to Gillian Lynne, I can't keep a straight face every time the Phantom stretches across that portcullis...

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Post  auctioneer on Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:09 am

Yes, it's funny - it's such a spectacular show, yet I find MotN just drags on -- and MotN seems especially long because of the whole spectacle that precedes it (the title song).

Let's hope that Philip gets his promotion, though I'm sadly not holding my breath. He certainly deserves it. He's been Auctioneer/Reyer for nearly twenty years, I believe. I've seen him a couple of times as Andre, and he is great. He puts a lot of energy into the role, probably because it gives him a break from the usual routine.

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Post  Callie Daae on Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:35 am

Scorp wrote:I get bored by MotN too sometimes. I find the song generally quite overrated, not sure why it is so incredibly popular with fans. The only times I have found it enthralling and have paid 100% attention are when it's performed by MC or JOJ.

And now, thanks to Gillian Lynne, I can't keep a straight face every time the Phantom stretches across that portcullis...

I agree 100%, nobody has ever performed it like MC did. I actually think JOJ wasn't romantic enough. Or maybe he just bugs me because I can't stand his over the top dramatic screaming in the Final Lair. But anyways, the way MC sang MotN and the way he moved always keeps my attention.

Also, after I watched that interview with Gillian Lynne I haven't been able to keep a straight face either.
Laughing


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Post  SenorSwanky on Tue Mar 09, 2010 5:52 am

MOTN can be boring in the wrong hands. As well as MC, I think Davis Gaines, Colm Wilkinson, and Peter Karrie do mesmerizing renditions, vocally and physically.
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Post  operafantomet on Tue Mar 09, 2010 11:53 am

Originally I thought MOTN was a bit boring. First time I really paid attention to it was first time I saw Earl Carpenter as the Phantom. His acting was a bit different from others, a bit shy, but still very powerful. He sung it like he meant it... Cool

The song really found new life in my mind when I saw how much a Christine can contribute to the number as well. Mia Karlsson did some fantastic acting.

So to me, it all comes down to who's singing it. The song itself is old news, and if performed mechanically it's as interesting as hearing "memory" for the 18th time at an audition... But if performed well, preferably by both persons on stage, I love it.

As since this is the London thread, I must raise a glass for "Phantom catching swooning Christine" as well. Very Happy

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Post  LadyCDaae on Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:57 pm

operafantomet wrote:
The song really found new life in my mind when I saw how much a Christine can contribute to the number as well. Mia Karlsson did some fantastic acting.

So to me, it all comes down to who's singing it. The song itself is old news, and if performed mechanically it's as interesting as hearing "memory" for the 18th time at an audition... But if performed well, preferably by both persons on stage, I love it.

I agree. While this is the Phantom's showcase song and he obviously has to sell it vocally and dramatically, what makes this scene stagnate faster than anything else for me is a Christine who just stands there with a dazed expres​sion(I'm looking at you, Sarah Brightman and THAT singer). The song doesn't go anywhere--it can't, the Phantom already has Christine eating out of the palm of his hand so there's nothing left for him to strive for. (Crawford still makes it work in the video despite having to deal with Brightman's non-performance, which just goes to show how good he is.) If she makes him work for it, if she struggles against the spell he's trying to weave over her, it makes for a more interesting dramatic arc in the scene--the Phantom has to go through more emotional and tactical beats in order to pull off the seduction, which in turn prompts Christine's changing reactions to him. It is this interplay between the two characters which is the true heart of the song--and, indeed, the entire show.

ETA: Huh, apparently a certain cinematic Christine is She Who Must Not Be Named on this board. I'm not complaining, mind you, I just found the spontaneous editing of my post interesting.

~LCD

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Post  starryeyed on Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:49 pm

Matthew Gent had his first Raoul performance last night (the one day I went home so no I didn't catch him...)

Will Barratt will be on as Raoul from tonight until next Friday so if anyone is around I recommend seeing him, he's great!

And Scott Davies is of course Phantom next weekend. I think it is just Friday and Saturday but somehow I have in my head Thursday too... so perhaps Thursday- Saturday.

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Post  justin-from-barbados on Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:43 pm

David Shannon's Phantom is finally making the rounds on that website we all love to go visit, audio only, but I for one am in love with his phantom voice.

It is always so strange when you hear someone as Raoul and they sound totally different as Phantom.

Many on here will throw rocks at me (happens alot) but I dont like Ramin's voice, yes he has a good voice, but I just don't think it suits Phantom (I dont like him in LND Cd either). I also was never a fan of JOJ's shout/singing. The bits I;ve seen of Nic Greenshields was unimpressive. And Earl struggles with high notes and has too much of that whiney tone that Hugh Panaro has.

So basically what I am saying is that for a very long time London has not had a phantom I liked vocally. Sure the acting was great (I actually saw JOJ and Earl) but for someone like me, I am one of those who prefers outstanding, melt in my seat vocals over acting skills and it seems to me London had too many shouting Phantoms.

The 2 clips of David were very nice, smooth, soothing, powerful yet effortless. (and what's with the background "ahhs" in the 3rd verse of the title song, I dont remember it sounding that obvious in those new orchestrations.

Anyways, glat to hear a nice sounding phantom in London once more.
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Post  Raphael on Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:52 pm

LadyCDaae wrote:While this is the Phantom's showcase song and he obviously has to sell it vocally and dramatically, what makes this scene stagnate faster than anything else for me is a Christine who just stands there with a dazed expres​sion(I'm looking at you, Sarah Brightman and THAT singer). The song doesn't go anywhere--it can't, the Phantom already has Christine eating out of the palm of his hand so there's nothing left for him to strive for. (Crawford still makes it work in the video despite having to deal with Brightman's non-performance, which just goes to show how good he is.) If she makes him work for it, if she struggles against the spell he's trying to weave over her, it makes for a more interesting dramatic arc in the scene--the Phantom has to go through more emotional and tactical beats in order to pull off the seduction, which in turn prompts Christine's changing reactions to him. It is this interplay between the two characters which is the true heart of the song--and, indeed, the entire show.
I agree entirely. Which is why it was disappointing to hear that Crawford preferred Catatonic!Christines for that number (I recall hearing a story about how one of his Christines was being a little more active and he tried to tell her how it "should" be played. Which, of course, caused some significant tension since actors aren't supposed to direct other actors. That's the director's job.

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Post  SenorSwanky on Sat Mar 13, 2010 12:36 am

Raphael wrote:
LadyCDaae wrote:While this is the Phantom's showcase song and he obviously has to sell it vocally and dramatically, what makes this scene stagnate faster than anything else for me is a Christine who just stands there with a dazed expres​sion(I'm looking at you, Sarah Brightman and THAT singer). The song doesn't go anywhere--it can't, the Phantom already has Christine eating out of the palm of his hand so there's nothing left for him to strive for. (Crawford still makes it work in the video despite having to deal with Brightman's non-performance, which just goes to show how good he is.) If she makes him work for it, if she struggles against the spell he's trying to weave over her, it makes for a more interesting dramatic arc in the scene--the Phantom has to go through more emotional and tactical beats in order to pull off the seduction, which in turn prompts Christine's changing reactions to him. It is this interplay between the two characters which is the true heart of the song--and, indeed, the entire show.
I agree entirely. Which is why it was disappointing to hear that Crawford preferred Catatonic!Christines for that number (I recall hearing a story about how one of his Christines was being a little more active and he tried to tell her how it "should" be played. Which, of course, caused some significant tension since actors aren't supposed to direct other actors. That's the director's job.

R.
I don't think there's any problem with actors giving feedback on those they share the stage with, because what one actor does is supposed to play off of what the others do; they have to all share an interpretation of a particular scene and have their choreography and interplay in sync.
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Post  Mandrake on Sat Mar 13, 2010 1:08 am

I saw Phantom tonight (I hope I don't have to specify which one; the good one).

I must have seen it a hundred times. I've never been able to figure out what strange component it is that constitutes the difference between a "good" show and a "bad" show.

Sometimes it's pretty flat and sometimes it's pretty electrifying and tonight it was beyond description. I'll admit, first of all, that I've never seen the show within shouting distance of sober... So it could just be the optimum ratio in my blood of whisky to oxygen. Or, it could be that the seat I sat in (C8) benefitted from fortunate accoustics or a particularly sympathetic audience... But there does seem to be some tangible, elusive, quantity that differentiates an average performance from a particularly moving one. My best guess is that it's some small variable, some kind of cascade effect, that infects every actor and allows them to suspend disbelief themselves and enter into their roles more fully than their contract or a generic audience expects.

It's always puzzled me, this difference. It's a real thing, perceptible from the very start of the show (even the auction scene); but it's so hard to quantify. It's a tiny difference, if you could bottle it you'd be a billionaire. It's always the same show/ songs/ sequence/ synchronisation, and these make up maybe 95% of the performance (which is good enough for the casual observer) but sometimes there's an additional factor that propels the show beyond the mundane, everyday and satisfactory. I really do think it could just be a tiny little thing, a single ad-lib or inflection in a single word by a single performer, that creates some sort of feedback-resonance in the rest of the cast and powers the remainder of the show. Perhaps there's a proper term for this effect?

In any case I've never seen a show like tonight. Gina Beck's cadenza just about blew me out of my seat. Not just power; but direction and understanding and precise control, little inflections and subtleties that would surely be "above and beyond"- i.e. outwith the kind of things a performer would have to do simply to satisfy the basic requirements of their job. Genuine feeling and momentum and motivation, all the way through the show; compelling. Like a tiger in Final Lair, those instants where Christine forgets her peril and rages against her present circumstance: giving her mind blindly and outstretched, catlike tears of hate. This is the closest I can get to describing this difference, between a "good" and "average" show- sometimes it's apparent that the performers are feeling it for themselves, that they aren't required to act, that the pathos and momentum of the show are motivating and propelling them, rather than just the necessity having to sing their next line.

Also, I want Rohan Tickell and Rebecca Lock to stay forever. They both just give so much more than they strictly speaking have to. They seem made for each other; I would give so much to see them as Phantom and Christine. They, also, have superb, enhancing, little touches like Rohan's unspoken objection to Firmin's "queues 'round the theatre", and Rebecca's clicks and twitches during Think Of Me- also tonight, I heard for the first time, derisory laughter at the Phantom just before the end of Prima Donna. I think Carlotta may have a new wig, it struck me tonight as being a little darker and richer than usual.

Finally, a Madame Giry I haven't seen before. Joanna Strand, according to the cast board in the lobby. Quite clipped and precise, like Heather Jackson. I would like to see her again.

Will Barratt as the ever Cameron-esque Raoul. I really like his Raoul, very human unlike the real Cameron and rather deep and substantial, too (again, unlike...).

Phantom (Shannon) still has that Bowie-like arch, 40-a-day, semi-cockney pitch to his voice. Quite effective and convincing, sounds like a real outcast trying to warm himself against Christine.

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Post  starryeyed on Sat Mar 13, 2010 1:45 am

Intriguing... the best show I have ever seen I sat in C8... is there something magical about this seat?

ETA: Yes Carlotta (and Piangi I think) have new wigs, Carlotta does for definite anyway. Joanna Strand, I know the name, she must be the new second cover to replace Jacqui Tate.

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Post  Raphael on Sat Mar 13, 2010 7:07 pm

SenorSwanky wrote:I don't think there's any problem with actors giving feedback on those they share the stage with, because what one actor does is supposed to play off of what the others do; they have to all share an interpretation of a particular scene and have their choreography and interplay in sync.
Feedback and playing off another actor's interpretation to establish a synergy between both is one thing. Telling one of your co-stars the "proper" way to play their role is another.

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Post  operafantomet on Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:22 am

dolly-ry wrote:Matthew Gent had his first Raoul performance last night (the one day I went home so no I didn't catch him...)

Will Barratt will be on as Raoul from tonight until next Friday so if anyone is around I recommend seeing him, he's great!

And Scott Davies is of course Phantom next weekend. I think it is just Friday and Saturday but somehow I have in my head Thursday too... so perhaps Thursday- Saturday.
Oooh, awesome. Thanks for the heads-up on that. I agree about Will Barratt, he won me over very quickly. Gorgeous voice, that bloke. Gives Simon Bailey some good competition. Very Happy

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Post  SenorSwanky on Sun Mar 14, 2010 8:09 am

Raphael wrote:
SenorSwanky wrote:I don't think there's any problem with actors giving feedback on those they share the stage with, because what one actor does is supposed to play off of what the others do; they have to all share an interpretation of a particular scene and have their choreography and interplay in sync.
Feedback and playing off another actor's interpretation to establish a synergy between both is one thing. Telling one of your co-stars the "proper" way to play their role is another.

R.
MC is known to be very exacting, a perfectionist, so I'm not totally surprised, though he's also known to be a great castmate and a kind gentleman, so I'd question whether the Christine maybe took the feedback too personally and reported what MC said as being more offensive than it was really delivered.
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Post  starryeyed on Sun Mar 14, 2010 2:28 pm

Yes Anea, I think the only thing, realistically that sets Simon ahead of Will is the fact that he gets more opportunity to do things differently and add things in that understudies don't get to do. I would love to see Will have the role full time to see what he would do with it. He is definitely one to watch.

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Post  operafantomet on Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:22 pm

Yes, Will Barratt was a positive surprise. Especially his voice, so rich and nice. Maybe you're right about it being the opportunity to play the role regularly that separates them, but I think Simon Bailey has a coolness in his portrayal few can match. Anyhow, the London production is well equipped (ha-ha!) with Raoul these days!

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