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Phantom of the Opera 05-05-2012 - Lone Star College-CyFair Center for the Arts, Cypress, TX

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Phantom of the Opera 05-05-2012 - Lone Star College-CyFair Center for the Arts, Cypress, TX Empty Phantom of the Opera 05-05-2012 - Lone Star College-CyFair Center for the Arts, Cypress, TX

Post  PhantomsGhost Sun May 06, 2012 8:22 pm

Just got home from seeing Lone Star College-CyFair's Phantom of the Opera. (They're located in Cypress, TX, which is just north of Houston.)

For the most part, it was exactly as I expected it. But there were some surprises, some excellent, some good and some really, really bad.

I was impressed with the chandelier. They based it on one from the Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh, Pa. I will admit I did get chills when I saw the chandelier go up, and the orchestra did a great job with the music.

Carlotta, who was played by Monica Cummings, was A-M-AZING. When you closed your eyes and listened to just her, it sounded like a professional production. Same went for Jesus Villarreal (Piangi).

Of course, when you opened your eyes and saw the costumes and sets, except for the chandelier (and Phantom's mask) it seemed there was no budget for either. Although Carlotta's costumes were the best of the bunch.

They based much of the sets and some of the direction on the 25th anniversary, the double staircases, and no mirror bride. But I'd rather them base it on that than the 2004 movie, so I was okay with it.

The standout performance was Mackenzie Bitz. She really shone as Christine. Hit all notes pretty much perfectly. She was a joy to watch and listen to. And she got the biggest applause at the end. The crowd roared and rose to their feet when she came out to take a bow. And the look on her face when she saw this was so precious. Wide eyed, and the biggest smile, I've ever seen from someone taking a bow.

As for Raoul (Matt Elliott) and the Phantom (Brandon Hamilton) I'm afraid they left a lot to be desired. Brandon has an excellent voice, but doesn't seem to be that good at acting, and Matt seems to be good at acting, has a pretty nice tone to his voice, but isn't a singer. And neither one can seem to do both sing AND act at the same time.

This is perhaps the first time I've seen a performance of POTO where I had wished Christine would dump both guys and go off on her own.

Moments that stood out during the show (good and bad):

Not a lot of choreography, and almost no dancing. There was one dancer who was considered a 'Featured Dancer' and she would flit in and out of the big number scenes (Hannibal. Masquerade. Don Juan Triumphant). which was kind of weird.

Towards the end of the piece, usually when Piangi climbs up on the elephant, instead, a group of actors tried to lift him up, and couldn't so they all ended up in a heap on the floor, and scrambled to get back up to finish the piece. It really was funny, and worked well, IMHO.

Was pretty much like it is in the show. Very well done, perhaps my favorite scene in the entire show from all involved.

Christine's Dressing Room:
I can say without a doubt, Raoul was an ass here. As were the managers. They were all drinking champagne and drunk. Didn't work when Raoul goes to see Christine and we see him somewhat tipsy. Didn't like at all.

Main Title Theme:
This basically consisted of Christine and the Phantom walking down one of the staircases, then stand around singing a bit with a fog machine. It's also the first time we really get to see the Phantom...and as I said he had a great voice but was lacking in the acting department, it also didn't help that he was built like a linebacker. Then Christine and the Phantom go offstage and come back in what I assume was the boat, but looked more like the Titanic. The scale for this piece was way off, unfortunately.

All I can say is they tried. Really tried.

Notes I
This was a fun piece, for the most part. Almost set up exactly like Broadway, London.

Il Muto.
They used a couch just like the 25th anniversary, which was okay. This Carlotta did one of the best frogs in the throat I've heard. and just like the 25th anniversary, we never see the Phantom, just hear his voice.

When Andre is letting the audience know that they need to get to act III for the ballet, there was a clever moment when he looks at the conductor, and all we hear in the audience is lots and lots of paper rustling from the pit, and Andre is getting more and more anxious as nothing is being done. Very well-done moment and very funny.

The ballet.
Joey Castorena. He seemed to be everyman in this production. He played Slave Master/Shepherd/Joseph Buquet/Flunky/Stagehand and a Fire Marshall. So, when he comes out as the shepherd the audience started to giggle a bit, because I think everyone knew he also played Buquet and we knew there'd be a hung dummy coming down soon with his likeness.

Right before this scene started, the sets were flying in, and the rooftop came in with a literal *thud*. Audience stifled a bit of laughter when this happened. During the song is where I really noticed Raoul couldn't really sing too well, and act at the same time.

Phantom comes in from the side for the reprise, and the chandelier really doesn't come crashing down. More like it 'floats down'. The ending of act I really felt slow.

Act II/Masquerade
They decided to switch Firmin's and Andre's outfits...with Firmin wearing the skeleton costume. Kind of weird, but no big deal.
When Masquerade started, the actors signed (while singing) most of it. It was a WTF moment. Phantom had nothing more on than just a red cloak, red hat with his tuxedo and had a skeleton mask attached to his face. I actually liked that--mainly because I was expecting something closer to the movie version.

Notes II
Another Notes scene I liked. Quite a bit.

DJT Rehearsal
Very well-done all the way around.

Very lovely, and moving performance from Mackenzie Bitz. There was also snow slowly drifting down. This was kind of distracting, actually. The trio was added in. I was very thrilled they did this. And Raoul actually sounded pretty good here.

Before DJT
They actually had actors standing at each door and slammed them saying "Secure!" I really liked that touch instead of using the recording.

From this point on, it felt like the show was getting kind of rushed and the actors and orchestra were getting tired.
There really was no chemistry between Christine and this Phantom, nor was there any chemistry between her and Raoul.

Final Lair
Only real notable moments here were they set the whole thing up like the 25th anniversary, with Raoul being hung on the stairs, and Christine was really putting her all in it, although you could tell she was tired. The Phantom's deformity was more like the movie (either that or from my vantage point it looked like a pepperoni pizza...)

There was a bit of a costume and a set malfunction, though. While Christine's running towards a hung Raoul on the Stage Right steps, and the Phantom gets between them, begins backing Christine away from Raoul, the lace on her wedding dress gets caught on the very bottom riser and begins not only pulling the lace off the dress--and there's a very looong piece of lace that is now attached to the riser and still wedding dress--the phantom is straddling it, and then the riser begins to slowly be removed from the staircase and finally detaches itself and follows Christine. The Phantom is trying to continue to act, sing and remove the riser from the lace so they can both freely move. There is a huge *GASP* from the audience as we are watching this and wondering how this will end.

The Phantom had a bit of trouble with the cloak and the throne, but he finally got it hooked in and he disappeared, leaving a shoeless and sockless Meg Giry to rip the cloak away and find the mask. I was somewhat worried about her bare feet and the piece of set laying on the floor though, wondering if they had used nails or staples on the riser piece and if there were any stray pieces laying around that she may step on.

Even though there were problems with the show, I really did end up enjoying myself quite a bit. Christine and Carlotta definitely made it worth the trip to see.

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Post  Raphael Sun May 06, 2012 11:05 pm

Thanks for sharing your thoughts PhantomsGhost! I'm not surprised at all to see the amateur productions using the RAH as source material for their staging and blocking. Like you said, at least it's an improvement over using the 2004! It's also sad to hear that lots of these amateur Raouls and Phantoms seem to be the weak links in many of these shows. Guess the talent pool isn't really very deep for those parts.


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