Richey, on 27 March 2012 - 12:51 PM, said:
There does seem to be a group of narrow-minded fans who can't get their head round the fact this is billed as a 'New Production' and are vehemently voicing their opinions. The tour's Facebook page is quite laughable as there is one individual who keeps repeating the same tired points everytime someone posts something new on there. I think after 25 years the show needs refreshing and for those who don't like the new production, well no-one is making them watch it!
I haven't seen the new production (I won't do until May in Bristol) and hence can't give my own opinion on it yet, but I will say that the comments of disappointed Phantom
fans that I've come across so far (though I haven't read many -- I'm trying to avoid reading too much discussion of it so most of the show can be a surprise) are substantiated with reasons and not simply based on irrational dislike of anything that is not the original production.
I, for example, welcome a new production, but first thing's first: it's unlikely this is one. If it were completely new, Cameron would have hired a director who had nothing to do with the show in the past and used entirely new sets and costumes, rather than cannibalising Björnson's costumes and hiring a director whose most salient credits to date are for basically copying what Nunn and Caird did for Les Mis
and staging it without a revolve (as Nunn himself said, the best bits came straight from the original production) and copying Hal Prince's direction for the Albert Hall event (which I don't think was a successful attempt - so much about the direction for that seemed off, from Christine fainting for no reason in 'Music of the Night' to Raoul completely ignoring Christine's pleas that she can't attend dinner with him after the gala). The only reason this is billed as 'new' is because Cameron doesn't want to tour the original any more, presumably because rising costs means it's not economically viable enough for him to do so (same case for Miz
). I am sure a successful new production can be done in future, but it needs an entirely new creative team in every department.
But what I've read so far that verges on the negative re fan responses to this production is not because this isn't the original, but because it's substandard. As I said, I don't know yet if this is true as I've not seen it myself yet, but one review I read said that the graveyard can be seen from the window of the Don Juan rehearsal room in Act II -- one example (apparently of several) of the sheer laziness and lack of attention to detail; the graveyard has always been (and still is, according to the programme for the tour) in Perros-Guirec, which is a million miles away from Paris in Brittany (not to mention that even if they did relocate the graveyard to Paris, there has never been one in the vicinity of the Opéra). The costumes, I have to say, don't look great from the photos that have been released -- what is alarming is that Björnson's costumes have been altered without the permission of her estate and to their detriment, something that a perfectionist like Maria would never have allowed. The agreement with the estate was that the costumes would be intact, and they aren't. In some cases they look quite bad - from the Phantom's mask and his wig, to the majority of the Masquerade costumes, which look like someone's second-rate Halloween fancy dress party with Phantom masks bought off eBay. I've also heard things like the text itself being changed - e.g. the point at which Christine sees the Phantom unmasked for the first time - and the insertion of things that make no sense, presumably to retrofit the show with that rather embarrassing sequel (Meg's interaction with The Phantom at the end, which makes little sense considering how terrified she is of the Phantom during the best part of the show). Whether or not the general public cares is another thing, but my point is that if complaints have been raised, it's because alterations to the show itself (which make it worse and less coherent) have been made rather than differences in staging.
I'm still looking forward to seeing it, however, and can console myself in the knowledge that even if I don't like what Laurence Connor has done, John Owen-Jones is likely to be fantastic as ever. But the responses I've read don't seem to be nearly as enthusiastic as those to the revamped Les Mis
, which nicely revisited the Hugo novel; whereas here, unfortunately, Gaston Leroux has apparently been given short shrift.