Sunday, October 2, 2011

Phantom of the Opera sans a falling chandelier

At 2 PM on October 2, 2011 - Phantom of the Opera streamed a live performance of the 25th anniversary performance from Royal Albert Hall to Phans accross the UK, Canada and USA. Thankfully my friend Michael snagged three tickets to the showing at Farmingdale Multiplex cinemas, thus ensuring that the plans for Sunday afternoon of October 2, for Shawn and I was to attend the screening of the live performance stream. The viewing started at 2 PM, Shawn and I were a little bit late so we ended up coming into the theatre during the rehearsal for Hannibal. It was the first time ever that I was late for anything involving phantom, I figure with all the phantom events I do end up being able to attend this misfortune was bound to happen sometime, it's better it happened for a screening and not for an actual performance so I won't gripe. Besides this will be available on DVD soon, which I'm definitely going to buy so it's not like I won't be able to view the little bit that I missed. The performance was wonderful. There were a few key elements and props that were missing because the show took place at Royal Albert Hall and not at Her Majesty's. I guess they were able to put together certain scenes and had to forgo using some prop pieces because the space they were using doesn't normally accommodate the production. Most notable items missing were the mirror bride at the end of music of the night, half of Christine's dressing room, the boat in the final lair scene and the most notable by far the falling chandelier. There was a chandelier in the hall, but my guess was the theatre managers at Royal Albert Hall were definitely not going to let that thing fall, not even for the greatest musical to ever grace the presence of the stage. The cast was huge, the biggest cast I've ever seen come together in order to perform the phantom. Ramin Karimloo played the man of the evening, the phantom. He was terrific, his voice was absolutely wonderful, and he added something great to the final lair scene that I've never seen done before, he actually almost huddled up and cried after screaming orders to Raoul and Christine to go after he released Raoul. I definitely lost it at that point and starting bawling like a baby as I usually do during the final lair scene. Sierra Boggess was a good Christine. Shawn said she was a bit creepy because he didn't really notice her blink, but creepy non blinking aside her Christine performance was pretty damn cool. She played up Christine's torn emotions between the phantom and Raoul more than any Christine I've ever seen. I was really glad to have seen these two perform the title roles, I've been dying to see them in action since I knew about them. I did see Sierra when she was the little mermaid on Broadway but was really glad to see her as Christine. I'm more excited over the fact that I will have this on DVD soon and will see them any time I want to pop my copy in the DVD player (which might be any time I'm home). Kiera Duffy was a fair Carlotta. The rest of the cast was good, very on target, and they did an admirable job in performing phantom in a space not entirely meant to house it. Masquerade was disappointingly undazzling, they chose to have the cast members enter the stage after the managers discovered each other in the beginning of the song, rather than have them waiting on one of the staircases while a curtain was pulled back. The cool part about Masquerade - three monkeys. There was some really cool digitized movie projections during the performance. I've heard rumors of a new version of phantom being released, I don't have my facts straight for any blog piece about this new version yet but I'm wondering if these movie projections will be featured in the new version or if they were just for the Royal Albert Hall specifically. The pit orchestra played above the stage, because the camera men were down in the pit. When the performance was over, of course Andrew Lloyd Webber had to come out in order to take a bow and give a speech. I think he does these special performances just so he can have some moments (maybe also because the phans might crucify him if he doesn't....but it's probably more to have his moments). Wasn't a fan of his speech, Shawn was ready to go to sleep the minute he came on stage, and Michael made fun of his fashionable shirt. He blubbered a few words, bought out the original London Company and crew, minus the few that have passed away including Maria Bjornson and Steve Barton. He introduced Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman separately, it was pretty amusing when Sarah came out, he was trying to grab her fiercely but she insisted on embracing Michael Crawford. Sarah Brightman sang the title song with four separate phantoms and Ramin, the four phantoms followed by singing a rendition of music of the night with many voices. That was very cool, I was able to see brief musical clips performed by John Owen Jones, Anthony Warlow, Colm Wilkinson, and Peter Joback. I only recognized Colm Wilkinson, at the end of the performance I ended up not being able to catch the names of the phantoms when they flashed on the credits screen. Thankfully my fellow phan Christopher Marsh in London saw the show in person and posted these phantom's names so I was able to get my reporter facts straight. (When I'm a real reporter I'll have to make a mental note not to reveal my sources). It's alright for my blog though, I think my friends and fellow PHans like the recognition. Overall I was pretty impressed with the 25th anniversary performance, I was really happy that the decision was made to stream it live to movie theatres, this was probably so ALW could have many more people see him make a speech, but still it was cool to have the opportunity to see this without having to take a plane to London, and to than be able to buy it on DVD in a month is pretty good too. May phantom have another 25 years...who am I kidding...I hope phantom has another 125 year and than some!
Michael, Shawn and I during the intermission, I used the front facing camera on my cell phone, grainy dark picture but still glad to have it.