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Phantom Las Vegas 8 December 2007: The DeStudly Edition (Barrett/Holden/Silverman)

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Phantom Las Vegas 8 December 2007: The DeStudly Edition (Barrett/Holden/Silverman) Empty Phantom Las Vegas 8 December 2007: The DeStudly Edition (Barrett/Holden/Silverman)

Post  Raphael Sun Dec 20, 2009 8:22 pm

Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular - 8 December 2007 9:30pm: The DeStudly Edition (or "Raouls That I'd Go Gay For")

My thirteenth show (or, "Lucky Thirteen" as they say in Vegas) wasn't planned until I arrived in the city. I had flown in to attend the "Phantom Family Holiday Concert" on Sunday and had decided to make a weekend of it so I could do some reference photography for a new project amongst other things. In planning the trip, I had hoped to have the opportunity to see both Kristen Hertzenberg and Ryan Silverman (the two cast members I hadn't yet seen in my visits), but while catching Ryan was almost a sure thing, Kristen was not performing Saturday night. Regardless, I was determined to break my Gleason streak of six consecutive performances by seeing this new Raoul. And when Brianne offered me the opportunity to join a backstage tour she was giving after the last show of the night; that sealed the deal.

I caught up with Brianne before the 7pm show and we had a chance to look at the new commercial before she had to go into the theatre to get ready for the first show. They've looped the new commercial with B-roll footage of the OLVC in order to stretch it out a bit, but the commercial proper I found to be a bit schizophrenic. The first portion consists of a handful of shots with superimposed text (such as "Envy" and "Revenge") fading in and plays rather like a perfume ad -- all soft focus and slow camera moves. The final section, showcasing the chandelier crash, opted for quick cuts and extreme angles but in what I thought was a somewhat cheesy manner (such as a bird's eye view of Raoul, Christine, and the managers as they scream and raise their arms to stave off the falling chandelier coming down on their heads). All in all, I give it a "C."

Just a word of precaution, but I forgot my pad and pencil so this review won't be as detailed as my other ones. Everything here is basically what I remembered after I got back to my hotel room 3 hours later.

Okay, now onto the actual review.

Michael Lackey: Most Chilling Auctioneer Ever Smile

My first taste of Silverman's Raoul (wow, that sounds gay already) was this scene, and he immediately showed originality in how he delivered his lines. Convincingly old and in ill health in voice, he also is the only Raoul I can remember since Barton who has ever sung the word "dead." Typically Raouls stress it as if to highlight the morbidity, but Silverman projected a weary sadness in the line that I liked a great deal.

I'm not sure if I happened to be sitting right next to a concealed speaker, but the Overture was almost deafening that night. In fact, a lot of the music sounded louder than usual. Many times during the show, it seemed like the actors had to raise their voices to be heard over the music. The chandelier assembly is still as impressive as ever, although I found myself paying more attention to the streaks of blue light coming down from the dome rather than the chandelier itself. I just think they're so durn purdy.

Okay, I officially apologize for the illustration of "Cannoli-hammock!Piangi." I now understand how damaging an image such as that can be when watching the show. When Larry Wayne Morbitt walked out onto center stage with his cape wrapped around him, for the briefest of seconds, just before he threw his arm back to reveal his full costume, a little voice in the back of my head went, "oh SH--!"

I have learned my lesson.

Now I'll draw everyone in thongs so no one will be able to watch the show with a straight face again.

Several other bits of note here. I noticed John Leslie Wolfe's André lip-synching Carlotta's "Think of Me" lines just as fiddlephan had described. It was a really nice addition that emphasized the character's love for the arts. Also, I noticed Buquet crossed himself when he sang his first lines - another interesting touch I hadn't noticed before that adds a bit to his character. Larry also gave a different line delivery for his "Amateurs!" -- less huffy and jokey and more snobbish, which was a nice change of pace. Finally, as I allowed my gaze to wander a bit from the main action, I noticed that Kristi's Christine definitely "had her head in the clouds" -- her gaze drifting off into the auditorium instead of watching what was going on onstage.

Oh, and Brianne played Meg like an enthusiastic friend, confident in Christine's talents and acting as her unofficial cheerleader.

Mmm… Cheerleader!Meg…

Uh, where was I?

Bruce Ewing's Reyer also was a bit unique in that when he presents the libretto to Christine, he doesn't offer it and take it away in one swift movement, nor does he present it and then close it as he quickly steps away. Bruce presents it to her, pauses for a beat, and then closes it in front of her before stepping back. I think his choice to close it left to right, which is the opposite direction in which he steps away from her, emphasizes it immensely. Somehow, I felt this made Reyer seem even more dismissive of Christine, which was cool.

Think of Me:
I liked Kristi when I saw her in July, but back then I had felt her interpretation, while enjoyable, lacked distinctiveness. Five months later, while she still has (if I may steal a line from the Y/K Phantom) "a voice like a lark" which is so sweet and lovely, her "Classic Christine" is played with more earnestness now. There was also an intriguing change in her character whenever she was under the Phantom's thrall that I'll get into later.

Turning my attention to eyeball the new Raoul, I noticed that he was quite animated in the manager's box, chatting with them while Christine was singing as if he's not really paying attention until he recognizes Christine. I usually don't shift my focus to Raoul that early in the song so I don't know how common that interpretation is.

Angel of Music:
The most striking thing I noticed in this scene was how much stronger Brianne's singing has become since I first saw her last year. Go SuperMeg!

Little Lotte:
Ryan really got me here. He actually delivered his introductory lines to Christine very much like I'd always wanted to hear them: slight alarm followed by denial and finally dissolving into amusement. He brought sincerity and empathy to the part that was very welcome -- I can see how he might be compared to Barton not only in voice but also in interpretation. My only quibble (if it even is one) is that vocally he sounded vaguely like Brent Barrett in some way that I can't quite place, making that particular combo of actors not quite as distinctive.

The Mirror:
Brent's still awesome. Great voice that's a pleasure to listen to. Just makes me more upset that with all the great talent this production has, they still don't have a recording of any sort. Not even a benefit album. C'mon management, get with it! You're sitting on a frikkin' goldmine here!

Remember when I said Kristi's Christine was different when under the Phantom's influence? Well, it was in her expression and body language. Her eyes became heavy-lidded and her movements slow and rather sensual (kinda like how the Phantom moves, come to think of it). Nothing extreme, mind you, just intriguing enough to make you sit at attention.

Phantom of the Opera:
This scene's always a crowd-pleaser. Nice use of the doubles made the group behind me murmur in surprise Smile And for the first time I noticed that when the candelabra rise up out of the stage, the smaller arch actually reconfigures itself to match the forced perspective. Nifty!

Music of the Night:
Surprisingly, I don't have much to say here. Having now seen Brent twice, I think I've got a handle on how he interprets the role and sings this signature song. The vocals are strong and bold gestures are all there (can I say how much I love that one that's featured in the OLVC ad?) I think he dialed down the romanticism just a tad this time, though, and I felt more authority from him as well. I did note that he doesn't actually touch Christine in the signature MotN pose, instead opting for the original Crawford choreography of enveloping her without actual physical contact. Not sure if he did that last time or not. I also noticed that when the Mirror Bride burst through the glass, Brent did a sort of laughing pantomime like it was a surprise he had sprung on her only to have it backfire when she fainted. I believe that was a first, too.

Stranger than You Dreamt It:
Brent's very energetic organ bit is probably my favorite version -- most likely because I'm the same way when I'm working Smile He also wailed his "Curse you!" to the heavens, which was great to see -- definitely a keeper! And his crawl across the stage was actually quite cool too in how he scurried toward Kristi in fits and starts, reminding me of some giant insect darting across the floor. Kinda frightening actually.

Notes/Prima Donna:
This would probably be the last time I’d see Rebecca and Brianne together as the mother-daughter duo, so I paid a great deal of attention to them in this scene. Rebecca's Giry was stoic, deliberate in movement, and always had an expression on her face of someone who knows more than anyone else in the room Smile Brianne, as fiddlephan and others have mentioned in their reviews, had the most marvelous reactions to the other characters in the scene, always playing off the lyrics with something appropriate. I think it's unanimous that her "WTF?!?" look she gives to the line "And of the queues / round the theatre!" (at least, I think it's that line. My memory's a bit fuzzy) is perfect.

Also, I like the interaction between Brianne's Meg and Ryan's Raoul as he looks at the Phantom's various notes. There's a slight sense of annoyance on Raoul's part concerning this overly inquisitive ballerina who keeps snooping over his shoulder.

All I Ask of You:
Good-looking fella, that Silverman. He's got sort of a young Elvis thing going on. Kristi and Ryan did a good job with the song, giving it a lot of warmth and emotion. The dip and kiss is still there, but Ryan and Kristi don't hold it for long, thankfully.

Meg's one-two hip swish. Still the best part of Masquerade Smile

Giry's Confession:
Question: If you're standing in the theatre lobby and you time it right, can you spot Giry running out of the auditorium doors and slipping back inside through another entrance? And if you weren't familiar with the show, would it just look like some woman desperately trying to get to the restroom?

Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again/Wandering Child:
Kristi did a wonderful job here, very much like when I saw her in July. Excellent singing, excellent acting - a real joy to behold. This I feel, combined with Wandering Child, is where she really shines.

Ryan's portrayal (probably aided by the warmth and sincerity he gave the part earlier in the show) is one of a man who is bravely - not foolishly - choosing to face this experienced killer head-on to protect his fiancée. You also sense his reluctance when Christine finally convinces him to run from the Phantom. He pauses, as if determined to deal with this threat now, but ultimately agrees to run (perhaps for her safety).

Before the Premiere:
I can't comprehend how I missed this before, but it was only at this performance, that I noticed that the Don Juan ensemble hears and reacts to the Phantom's voice as well even though they are "behind the curtain." Of course, this was the first time I was focusing on looking at the ensembles' costumes, so maybe that had something to do with it.

Point of No Return:
While I didn't feel Kristi's bit with the apple was as scorchingly memorable as other's I've seen in the past, I will give her points for originality of choreography and most unique "apple worship" moments. The rest of her performance in the scene was spot-on, definitely in the moment and believable.

A very cool moment here was between the unmasking and the chandelier fall. There's a moment where in the past I believe Brianne has just held her pose after the scream before shifting focus to the chandelier. That night, I noticed there was a moment between Meg and Christine -- as if Meg was trying to figure out what to do to help her friend -- only to have that moment slip away when the chandelier dropped and the Phantom whisked Christine away.

Final Lair:
Brent's Phantom seemed a bit colder and less unhinged this time around, sort of reminding me of an early review from the show. But the shifts in emotion were still present, yet tempered with a touch of darkness.

Kristi was bolder this time, sort of walking the line between submissive and assertive interpretations -- as if Christine was angry yet feared the repercussions if she truly expressed her feelings. A very nice and believable balancing act.

Okay, perhaps in line with their new sexy ad campaign, apparently the new focus of this scene has become Raoul's biceps. When Ryan rolls back up onto the stage and takes his place at the portcullis, his shirt is unbuttoned practically to his navel and his shirtsleeves rolled up all the way to his deltoids. I mean; he might as well have ripped his sleeves off for all the difference it would have made. And despite his apparent exhaustion having just come back from his between-scenes job at Chippendales, he gripped the portcullis with intensity, his muscles bulging with their strength, straining against the fabric of his shirt like Bill Bixby transforming into Lou Ferrigno. We're talking USDA prime cut man meat here, ladies. The estrogen emanating from the audience as palpable, like being at a 90% off sale at Manolo Blahnik when they're giving away free chocolate.

Rest assured Brent's kiss and ring choreography are still there (can't say enough how much I like the way he pulls away from the kiss), but the cage seemed to take forever to come back down. It actually got me to thinking what could possibly be the back-up plan if Raoul gets stuck up there? Another moment of note was how Kristi sobs into Ryan's chest once they're reunited and how Ryan shows confusion and concern for his former rival -- mostly through expression and body language -- before they are chased out of the Lair. The throne worked like a charm, complete with sudden punch of the cape as Meg approaches, close on Brianne and the mask, and fini.

Curtain Call:
Wow, that was the most lackluster applause at curtain call that I've ever heard. Sure, the theatre wasn't exactly packed, but still; I'd never heard the applause actually die out before the Phantom even showed up. For shame audience members of the 9:30 performance on December 8th, 2007! For shame! I fart in your general direction!

Brianne had some family friends visiting, but she let me come along for the tour she was giving them. It was actually an even more thorough tour than the one she gave me last time I was in town - pointing out not only the props and so forth, but also the technical equipment used in the wings. I also learned that the mirror bride mannequin looks quite freaky due to her eyes (didn't actually get to see it, but Brianne described it quite well). Brianne also showed us around downstairs (where their having a dressing room door decorating contest) and got another peek into the Girys dressing room itself where, darn it, I forgot to get a picture of Brianne and the illustrations I gave her again! The rest of the cast seemed to have already left, so we didn't run into Brent, Kristi, Ryan, Rebecca, Michael or any of the others -- I imagine everybody wanted to get some rest before the concert the next day. I wanted to be bright and alert as well, so I headed back to my hotel once we said our goodbyes in the lobby. Good thing, too, 'cuz Sunday was packed to the gills.

But that's another story entirely.


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Join date : 2009-09-22
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