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Phantom Of The Opera ~ 2012, Uk Tour


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#261 Bricabrac

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 03:15 PM

View PostRichey, 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!

Is it really narrow minded to expect that a show advertising its use of Maria Bjornson's costumes actually use them?

I'm not at all against a new tour show, but saying one thing and doing another is a different matter.

#262 Richey

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 11:12 AM

View PostBricabrac, on 29 March 2012 - 03:15 PM, said:

Is it really narrow minded to expect that a show advertising its use of Maria Bjornson's costumes actually use them?

I'm not at all against a new tour show, but saying one thing and doing another is a different matter.
I don't know the extent to what the new tour doesn't use Maria's designs; I'll reserve judgement on that til I've seen the show in Manchester, but from the few pics I've seen they look very like the originals.
My post was referring to the individuals who are generally critising everything about the show just because 'it's not like the original'. sorry if that was unclear.

#263 The Scorpion

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 09:05 PM

View PostRichey, 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.

#264 Doogie Hoser

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 10:46 PM

I think your most important point is one:  will the general public care?  Most people go to a show to be entertained.  That's the smell test.  

For me, originals aren't sacrosanct.  (You should see the debates raging on New York boards about Evita, mostly because Elena Roger was born without Patti LuPone's voice.)  

For me I'd rather see actors given a chance to interpret the material and have a job and do what they do, and musicians as well.  Granted, it's harder to remain neutral when you've got a point of comparison (having seen Sunset Blvd. I can't imagine a version without the actress playing Norma competing with the set, but apparently there were heaps of people happy with a spiral staircase and a few potted palms.)  Thing is, with Phantom and most long runners, there's a generation not even born when the original came out, and not everybody has the means to get down to London.

#265 SHk

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 11:12 PM

I saw the tour version a week ago and was most impressed by the new staging. I don't have time to write my impressions in full now, but for me the most striking thing about this new production was the director's ability to creat an entirely new thing without being influenced by the original. He created it from the original novel and script as he interpreted them, not just tweeking the original here and there.

The result is a more logical, realistic, convincing version of the same story. Many little holes - ranging from illogical to downright silly - that exist in the orignal have been fixed by the new director.

Just little things such as in between the managers' office scence in Act 2 and the rehearsal scene.  Now there is a new line for Christine pleading Raoul to protect her (in case something happnes during the performance of Don Juan), meaning she rerulcatnly agreed to take on the lead role in it.  Thus, now it's not bizzar that soon after screaming and going mental in the managers' office, she is seen taking part in an rehearsal. I've always thought that was a bit rich.

The tour version is full of these little details, so the story now makes a lot more sense.

The stage sets were wonderful too.

The only disapointment was the costumes. Most of them looked like cheap fakes of the original. But more about them when I have time.

#266 The Scorpion

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 12:52 AM

View PostDoogie Hoser, on 30 March 2012 - 10:46 PM, said:

I think your most important point is one:  will the general public care?  Most people go to a show to be entertained.  That's the smell test.  

For me, originals aren't sacrosanct.  (You should see the debates raging on New York boards about Evita, mostly because Elena Roger was born without Patti LuPone's voice.)  

For me I'd rather see actors given a chance to interpret the material and have a job and do what they do, and musicians as well.  Granted, it's harder to remain neutral when you've got a point of comparison (having seen Sunset Blvd. I can't imagine a version without the actress playing Norma competing with the set, but apparently there were heaps of people happy with a spiral staircase and a few potted palms.)  Thing is, with Phantom and most long runners, there's a generation not even born when the original came out, and not everybody has the means to get down to London.

I would argue that it's my least important point. Whether the public cares or not about how much detail and attention is put into the design and direction of a piece bears no relevance on its quality. My point is rather that expressions of disappointment that have thus far been raised are not invalid or indicative of aversion to change, but are rather founded on elements of the show that have either been distorted or misunderstood (and there are such things as objective elements that one can either get right or wrong, such as knowing the location of the graveyard, for example). Whether the public gives a damn about it doesn't invalidate the concerns that have been raised. It's always frustrating to know that something has the potential to be much better than it is if only a little more care and thought were put in.

As I said, though, there's a limit to what I can say on this subject since I can't raise any personal grievances (and am hoping I won't have any!) until I see the show myself. But I do think it unfair and unwarranted to call audience members "narrow-minded" when it is clear the costumes HAVE been altered and this is not what is advertised or, apparently (if that e-mail exchange quoted above is anything to go by), agreed with Maria Björnson's estate.

#267 SHk

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 09:56 AM

Oh, some heated discussion is going on here about the costumes.  As I said above, costumes could have been a LOT better (I personally wished they hadn't imitated the original), but just concentrate on the over-all standards of this new production when you finally go to see it.  It really is a wonderful production as a whole.

#268 SHk

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 10:50 PM

I would like to write my report on the tour version.  But as I haven't read any other report here or anywhere else to save the surprise, so excuse me if I repeat things that have already been mentioned in this thread.  

First, I was much much impressed how the past comes back to Raoul at the end of the auction scene. In this version, Raoul (yes, not in wheel chair, just a dashing grey-haired gentleman)stands there still while the past unfurles around him like a slow whirlwind blowing in anti clock-wise (if you get what I mean). Madame Giry in a wheelchair disappearing for a moment and coming back walking an instant later had a particularly good effect. I didn't quite expect to weep at the auction scene, but this coming-back of the past made me. If you put yourself in Raoul's shoes, you would. All the things lost and gone are coming back... like that. What a gorgeous opening of the show!!

Hannibal was also good. When Madame Giry is aked to strike the floor with her stick, it doesn't make much sound in the original. But in this version, after being asked she waits a moment and then strikes the floor THREE times.  I know it's a small matter, but attention to details like this really made strong impressions on me throughout the show.

And then when Andre askes Christine if she is related to the Sweedish violinist and she answers he is her father, Andre seems impressed and touched. And when he agrees to hear her sing, he does so out of respect for her late father and also for the musical talent Christine must have inherited.  This is also a small thing, but rather than brushing her answer aside like  in the original, this makes a lot more sense. It shows that Andre at least has respect for music.

The ballet was up-graded of course.  Now it's clear that slave girls are slaves.  There is a sort of pas de deux between the slave master and a slave girl. This shows that her hands are really tied and at the mercy of the slave master.  

Christine's dressing room. It opens like a doll-house from the cilinder-shaped big structure and looks a bit like the set of The Ladykillers.

Raoul bring a stem of red rose, not a bottle of bubbly.  This makes more sense too.  To be continued.

#269 SHk

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 11:11 PM

Oops, I have just read 1 of Scorpion's comments (the loger one). I just have to say this:

No no no, it's not substandard!! Quite the opposite.  It's totally new and as I have been writing above, much attention has been paid to the sotry's narrative coherance.

I just loved it.  It really was fantastic ( apart from the costumes). The stage set gave me goose-pimple. Seriously. Also some silly things are now gone too (horay!).

I am a huge fan of the original but I also have much praise for this new production, especially the director and the set designer.

Also, I don't think the new production was tweeked to suit LND. At least that idea didn't occour to me (who is also a huge LND fan) at all.  

So, I really don't why people are saying negative things. 

#270 The Scorpion

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 01:15 AM

View PostSHk, on 01 April 2012 - 11:11 PM, said:

Oops, I have just read 1 of Scorpion's comments (the loger one). I just have to say this:

No no no, it's not substandard!! Quite the opposite.  It's totally new and as I have been writing above, much attention has been paid to the sotry's narrative coherance.

I just loved it.  It really was fantastic ( apart from the costumes). The stage set gave me goose-pimple. Seriously. Also some silly things are now gone too (horay!).

I am a huge fan of the original but I also have much praise for this new production, especially the director and the set designer.

Also, I don't think the new production was tweeked to suit LND. At least that idea didn't occour to me (who is also a huge LND fan) at all.  

So, I really don't why people are saying negative things. 

I am very encouraged by your review. I am sure I will like the cast regardless of the production; Owen-Jones is an all-time favourite Phantom and I loved Simon Bailey's Raoul at Her Majesty's, especially when he was opposite Gina Beck.

What were the "silly things" that you didn't like about the original which are now gone? I don't see how Raoul bringing a red rose necessarily makes any "more sense" than bringing in some champagne - both, I thought, would be appropriate things to bring.

Don't take my comments re the costumes as "heated" - it was merely a response to what I thought was an unfair accusation on a previous page of this thread that fans were being small-minded for not taking well to the costumes, especially when they've been advertised as Björnson's originals.

I do think the chandelier looks tacky as hell though from the pics I've seen, though.




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