Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Phantom of the Opera North America Tour (Review)

Today I saw the North American tour of The Phantom of the Opera at Keller Auditorium.  As most of you know, I am a diehard Phantom fan having seen the production numerous times in Portland, London, and Vegas (on that note, let us take a moment of silence about the closing of the Vegas production).

This review will only focus on obvious changes to the story.  I have decided, however, not to comment on the cast or their ability to act and sing. Those judgements can be made by you.

What I witnessed today is the same music, new setting and costumes, and revised flavor of the entire production.  How do I feel?  Well how about, "Twisted every way, what answer can I give?"

If you have not seen it yet, be forewarned that what I'm about to write are spoilers.  Perhaps you'll thank me that I have lessened the shock factor for you beforehand. I will admit that the major changes to the sets add an overall improvement -- for the most part. The candelabras coming up from the floor are no more, but the dry ice continues to crawl across the stage floor as the Phantom's boat glides for a very short distance. 

However, it's the changes to the choreographing that strips away the old and leaves a rather dull and lifeless taste for me in this new version.  Perhaps I could blame it on my mood, or the sinus headache I nursed from Box 4 due to the high humidity.  All I know, is that the beloved emotions and tears I usually shed during the stage play were non-existent.  My eyes did not water, and my emotions remained for the most part unmoved, except for my occasional jaw-dropping episodes of shock.

What are the differences?  Well, here are a few quick highlights on what to expect.

1.  The most beloved of numbers, The Music of the Night, is very different from the original.  Cast away your memories of the Phantom putting his arm around Christine and swaying her back and forth in sweet intoxication.  Forget former scenes of them coming close as if they are about to kiss and swiftly pulling away. Their physical interaction and sensual attraction has vastly change, with a new act of the Phantom blindfolding Christine. At the end of the song, the mannequin bride that causes Christine to faint in his arms has disappeared. She is wide awake as he picks her up and walks her to his bed, lays her down, and finishes the song. Why she peacefully falls asleep, I'm not quite sure.

2.  Christine awakens but does not remove the Phantom's mask to see who is behind it.  Instead, he is off by himself, removes the mask, and picks up a handkerchief to dab his face. Hum, where did they get that idea? ("Taking his handkerchief from his pocket, he took the folded white linen and pressed it against his right cheek..." Quote from The Phantom of Valletta). When Christine awakens she sees his deformity. The Phantom rants as before, but no longer with the tearful emotion crawling on the floor. Not sure why he still calls her a "viper" and "this is what you wanted to see" when she wasn't responsible for stripping away the mask in the first place. 

3.  Masquerade - New costumes, improved set.  If you enjoyed the former quirky costumes in the older version, they have been replaced.  Raoul and Christine look basically the same, but Christine's dress is not as spectacular.  Also, be prepared to see the Phantom arrive in a totally different outfit.  He is dressed similar to the 2004 Movie outfit that Gerard Butler wore. The new set, however, is eye-catching and mesmerizing with mirrors.

4.  "Wandering Child" takes on a new direction when Christine finishes her song. The Phantom and Raoul actually get into a physical altercation, i.e. pushing, shoving, falling, fists flying, etc. The Phantom continues to throw his fireballs (even more impressive) as Raoul moves about the stage. Kiss goodbye the Phantom's fedora.

5.  The final lair scene is odd.  It opens with the Phantom finishing to dress Christine in the wedding dress. Without the bride in MOTN, those who watch it for the first time will be scratching their heads as to what is going on.  He is physically cruel to Christine when Raoul arrives on the scene. He puts her in a hold that looks as if he would snap her neck, then releases her and keeps her captive by grabbing her by the throat, and eventually throws her on the bed and pins her there while he's singing his demands. I found these changes bothersome.

6.  By the time the kiss comes, the "pitiful creature of darkness" has acted as a very dark character indeed.  It leaves little hope that Christine's kiss will redeem him in any fashion, and there is little reluctance or sadness on her departure from the lair with Raoul. Afterward, he is left crying over scattered musical sheets on the stage floor rather than the left-behind bridal veil that symbolizes love lost.

7.  His disappearance from the chair is no more, but alas he does disappear into thin air and Meg still holds the mask up as the curtain goes down.

There are other changes that I have not touched upon and will leave for my readers to discover on their own.  You will note that the Phantom does have more presence as he sneaks about in the background in various scenes.

The Lost Message?
For some fans these changes will be unsettling while for others no big deal.  The audience at Keller Auditorium cheered, whistled, and clapped their approval during the bows, so for the newer generations or those who have never seen the play, it is apparently well received.

What did I like about it? The improved sets in spite of the missing rising candelabras and extended boat scene. 

What I didn't like about it? The changes to iconic scenes that dismiss the intrigue that Christine feels for the Phantom and his yearning in return to have her as his own.  His bid to seduce her into his world (as the dictionary would say, "to win over, attract, or lure") is gone and replaced by the darker treatment and lack of attraction between the characters.

As Phantom Vegas once advertised their show, "Be Seduced," I am sad to say that the North American Tour did not seduce me at all.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Love Never Dies to Tour United States 2017-18

Yes, you read the title right.  Fresh from today. 

"The sequel to the longest-running show on the Great White Way will finally land in the U.S.!" 

Read the news HERE.

Read more news HERE.

This is going to stir the sleeping bees nest. I remain silent, neutral, non-committal.  

I've already seen it four times in London (both the original and revised version, but not the final revised that was released in Australia on stage - only on DVD).  The picture at the left was taken by me outside the Adelphi Theatre.

The most memorable moment?  Ramin Karimloo's arm around my waist getting my picture taken with him at the stage door.  

The remainder is too controversial to get caught up in that argument again.  I refuse to get drawn into the ruckus.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Facebook Phantom Group

If you are on Facebook, take a moment to check out the "All Things Phantom - Blog Talk Radio" group (Group Page Link on Facebook).  We have quite a few Phantom followers and fans of the show who love to post pictures and talk Phantom. (Show Link)

This is our new header for the page. We accept all things Phantom-related from the original book by Gaston Leroux, to the stage play by Webber, alternate versions of the story, the movies, and the sequel.  Check us out and join the group!  You are welcome.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

North American Tour - The Phantom of the Opera

Well, I purchased my ticket to see The Phantom of the Opera at Keller Auditorium for next week.  Box 4, seat 5, row 1.  After the show, I will come back and write my review.

Visit their stunning website at the link below and see if the North American Tour is coming near you.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Welcome to the Blog

Since the U.S. Tour of Phantom of the Opera began on April 1, 2015, this blog has seen a huge resurgence of visitors.  I'm assuming it's because fans are taking time to do Internet searches about various aspects of the story.

The blog you've just landed upon has been in existence since 2008. It started as a place to dump my thoughts about the story and grew into a monstrosity of over 150 posts to date. It's written from a fan's point of view.  I officially stopped posting in 2011.

The entire main blog deals with the characters, emotions, symbols, and other aspects of the story from Leroux to Webber. It was transferred to paperback form for purchase worldwide at the nagging of my readers. It's no longer available in eBook due to licensing that I have with the Hall Leonard Company who licenses the lyrics to the songs, which I have quoted in the text.

PLEASE NOTE:  This blog was never meant to be a literary review of Gaston Leroux! It merely focuses upon the story and and life lessons hidden throughout. I've used all versions to talk about Phantom and have also taken the time to dissect the characters in Love Never Dies. 

You can find all posts with drop-down menus at the sidebar to help you navigate through the various subject matter. 

Hope you enjoy the lair! 

If you wish to know more about who I am behind the mask, you can find information at

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera

Pretty impressive!  Helping to spread the word.  Visit their official website at Phantom of the Opera Animated. 

Unfortunately, they were unable to raise funding for the movie.  I hope they find an investor to continue.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Review and Cartoon A hearty thank you to Stephanie Piro, the cartoonist and author of The Militant Recommender blog, who recently reviewed the Phantom of Valletta

Click Here for Review

If you haven't read my Phantom continuation, the cartoon below may make no sense at all.  So here is an excerpt that goes along with it.  Stephanie's cartoon is a bit humorous to me, because it pretty well captures Erik's thoughts about this strange girl.  And, of course, she's a bit surprised to meet the masked man face to face in his opera house.


Everything appeared to be tidy and in its place, as he surveyed the seats and boxes. The chandelier hung dark, but a few gaslights near the stage burned, adding enough illumination in the theatre. As he strolled toward the front, he spotted a lingering light in the orchestra pit that caught his attention. Erik heard shuffling noises and movement and quickly halted his step. He listened intently, trying to ascertain if one of the musicians had perhaps lingered behind for some odd reason. Cautious and not wishing discovery, he stood motionless, waiting to hear further sounds before proceeding closer.

Suddenly, a recognizable pluck of a violin string met his ear, randomly flicked by a human’s finger. The plucks continued, with no semblance of tune, accompanied by the soft giggle of a female voice. Irate that someone dared to toy with an instrument meant for sounds of perfection, he angrily strode forward until he peered over the edge of the pit. There before him, with her back to his burning gaze, stood a petite golden-haired young woman fingering the instrument as if it were a mere plaything. Twang, twang. The sounds reverberated again, and another giggle ensued. His unbridled displeasure over her actions caused him to fling his words at her without a second thought.

“What in the hell do you think you’re doing?” he snarled, sounding like an angry bear about to claw its victim. He boldly stepped into full vision, daring to show his masked face to the intruder to make a point. “The violin is not yours, Mademoiselle, and I insist you cease from handling the instrument with such disrespect this instant!”

Thursday, January 3, 2013

News Regarding Book Version

Lessons From the Phantom of the Opera contains lyrics from the stage play as written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the lyricists.  In order to print those lyrics in the book, I had to pay a licensing fee to The Really Useful Group.  The cost was pretty hefty, but I thought it would be nice to include them.  Those lyrics are not, of course, here on the website.

When you license music like this, rights are usually given by how many prints will contain it.  I paid a price for a certain number of books, which I have now reached in sales.  In order to keep selling the book in print and eBook, I'd have to pay another license fee for additional copies.  I'm not willing to do that.

Therefore, I have pulled the print and eBook versions of Lessons From the Phantom of the Opera.  They should all be down within the next few weeks, however, you may see residual copies floating around here and there.

I do plan to re-release it with the stripped lyrics, but it won't be for quite a few months.  In the meantime, I apologize for not making this book available, but it's a matter of cost that I'd rather put into advertising my current list of books in the historical romance and contemporary romance genre that I have recently released.  

If you'd like to see what I am up to these days beyond Phantom, visit my site by CLICKING HERE.

I will let you know when the book is released and available for sale once again.  Thanks for your understanding.

Vicki Hopkins

Friday, November 4, 2011

Blowing Out the Candle

I've done some deep soul searching over this blog and other matters in the past month. Usually, when your soul prompts you to search inwardly, there's a discovery or change at the end of that endeavor.

I have, after much reflection, decided to end my blogging on Lessons From the Phantom of the Opera entirely. After nearly four years and 155 posts, I've done my bit in the lair and expressed my joys from center stage to the depths of the lake under the opera house. I've dissected, offered my two cents, received so many emails thanking me for my thoughts that I cannot count them all; but I will cherish every one. That, in itself, has given me great satisfaction. I've also had my share of critics, who found it necessary to slap my hand for having an opinion regarding Love Never Dies. Whatever . . .

This blog continues to receive hits worldwide, and the blog in print form continues to sell worldwide. I will not pull the blog from the Internet or the printed book. However, there will be no further posts about Phantom after this date.

My life's direction is turning elsewhere, as well as my interests and my career goals. When that happens, there are times your greatest interests must be put aside in order to pursue where your heart leads you next. I will never stop loving The Phantom of the Opera or the story it tells. It's been a huge part of my life, and I am very grateful for the experience. As far as further Phantom publications, I have people emailing me for a sequel to The Phantom of Valletta. I hadn't planned on one, but you never know what an author has up their sleeve. It may be "garbage" to some, but to others it was an enjoyable read, especially to my very kind friends on the island of Malta who embraced the story wholeheartedly. They are very gracious and generous fans. As far as the book itself, there may be some shocking surprises in the future.

For Phantom news, thoughts, and opinions, I encourage you to reach out to others in the community who are more than able to feed your need. If I have news about my publications, I'll update this site, but as far as blogging, I'm blowing out the candle. Thanks to everyone who supported me during this journey.

If you wish to follow my endeavors elsewhere, feel free to visit my official author website at and sign up to follow my progress on numerous other blogs and books, such as:

The Legacy Series - Historical Romance Trilogy (Books One, Two Three)

Dark Persuasion - (Award Winning Finalist in the 2012 USA Best Book Awards and Rare Top Pick Review by Night Owl Romance) Now Available on Amazon 

Conflicting Hearts - Adult Contemporary Romance under the pen name of J.D. Burrows

Romance With a Kiss of Suspense - Historical Romantic Suspense under the pen name of Nora Covington.

Vicki Hopkins aka The Phantom's Student

Monday, October 3, 2011

It's a Celebration - Not a Condemnation

Yesterday at 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, I arrived at the Lloyd Center Regal Cinemas to take my seat for the 25th anniversary celebration. Thankfully, I bumped into Bonnie Anne Hudson Pinard aka Paisley Swan Stewart, the author of Chanson de l'Ange. Bonnie and I sat next to each other, along with a friend she brought, and my son and his friend on the other side of me. If it were not for Bonnie carrying an abundant amount of tissues in her purse, I would have been wiping my nose upon my sleeve or running to the ladies room to steal some toilet paper. How could I leave without tissues? Duh!

Whenever I see Phantom, I cry. Some shows I cry more than others, based upon the performance of the Phantom. Others have moved me to tears, but Ramin Karminloo moved me to uncontrolled weeping. Bonnie and I kept grabbing each other during various scenes, because they were so powerful.

I'm sure others have different opinions about the production, and I've read some already (not that the Phantom community ever complains or anything); but I can only reiterate yesterday was a celebration. I encourage the community not to turn it into a condemnation.

Those who were privileged to be in London and see the show live were surely blessed. The energy in the Albert Hall had to be electrifying. However, seeing it on the big screen in a theater was nothing less than mind blowing. The cinematography was fantastic! I thought we'd just be plugged into one camera during performance showing the stage as a whole, as if we were some person plunked in a seat in the auditorium with a cheap ticket. On the contrary, we were given a visual feast of various angles, closeups, and actually saw tears rolling down the faces of Ramin and Sierra.

As far as the staging and sets, it was somewhat different no doubt due to the change in venue. Some of the familiar items such as the dressing room were missing, the elephant for Piangi, and a few other nuances. No doubt that had much to do with the setting of the production, but frankly it did not deter the enjoyment of the show for me. The visuals were wonderful too on the big screen as far as the backdrops that showed such great views like the Phantom penning his notes.

The costumes were to die for! Have you ever been close enough to see the lines of the feathers in the Phantom's fedora or the bead work on his cape? How about Christine's wedding dress and all the intricate detail the eye can behold? The colorful costumes were breathtaking, and a fitting recognition was given to the designer, who passed away some years ago - Maria Bjornson.

The performances, as far as I'm concerned, were nothing close to mediocre. There were frankly brilliant in every possible way. Each Phantom, of course, brings their own interpretation of the role, and each fan has their preferences. However, after looking into Ramin Karimloo's eyes during some of the close-up scenes, I can honestly say the man embodied the Phantom perfectly. This was my first time seeing Karimloo play the original role. I have an extremely high regard for Ramin as a man of character, too, which was clearly demonstrated at the end of the show when he bowed to Crawford and held his hand to show him the respect he deserved.

As far as his overall portrayal and vocals, they were sublime. Frankly, I was a tad worried having heard reports that his voice wasn't up to par on the first performance, and he even tweeted he was aware of the problem. However, Sunday's performance he was at the top of his game. Ramin's portrayal moved me to tears. His hurt, longing, anger, and brokenness were palpable. He just didn't play a role; he became the character. If I could bow to him and kiss his hand, frankly I would. Well done indeed.

What can you say about Sierra Boggess? She is Christine Daae. Her performance was touching, conflicted, and filled with yearning -- frankly, I don't have enough words to express the depth of her portrayal or her wonderful vocals on stage. Her and Ramin were meant to play the part together. Their chemistry had already been forged in their roles in Love Never Dies, and that chemistry was brought to the 25th Anniversary celebration. Great casting choice, though some may disagree in my assessment and the reasons behind those choices.

I had never heard of Hadley Fraser until the 25th Anniversary cast was announced. Wonderful choice for Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny. He played it with just a tad bit of aristocratic arrogance, which was quite appropriate since he was a patron of the opera house, rich beyond belief, titled, and handsome to boot. I thought his endearment toward Christine quite touching, and his hatred toward his rival quite convincing. His vocals were superb.

As far as the remaining cast who played Meg, Madame Giry, Carlotta, Piangi, and the managers, they are all to be congratulated for their fantastic performances. They all deserve five star ratings, as well as the ensemble and chorus. Loved them all!

The onstage reprisals and celebration after the performance were fantastic. I get such joy seeing Andrew Lloyd Webber. (#1 bucket list for me - meet the guy personally). To top it off, we saw and heard Sarah Brightman, Anthony Warlow (former AU production), John Owen Jones (current Phantom in London), Colm Wilkinson (former Phantom Toronto), and Peter Joback (new Phantom for London effective March 2012). Michael Crawford came out on stage and the audience, of course, gave him the accolades due for being in the original cast. It was a very moving ending indeed.

Yes, it was a celebration of the 25th anniversary. Of course, other reviews contrary to my own are popping up making it more of a condemnation instead. And, yes, you are entitled to your opinions. I can only add that the joy of Phantom is a universal gift that has been bestowed upon us by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the many others responsible for the creation of this wonderful production. As for me, I will not and cannot condemn and nitpick to death the beauty of yesterday's production. Why? Because it's not about me, folks, nor shockingly is it about you. It's about the continued existence of this wonderful show and story and the success of 25 years rolled into a program of celebration.

In conclusion, all I can say is that it will be forever etched in my mind as a fantastic presentation of the story I so dearly love. I hope to own it on DVD one day and play it until I have to buy another copy because I've worn it out.

If you haven't had the opportunity to see it yet, it's replaying encore performances at selected theaters this week. CLICK HERE for information and tickets. Go! Go and enjoy it and glory in the celebration of The Phantom of the Opera.

The Phantom's Student aka Vicki

P.S. Read a great article of accolades BROADWAY WORLD

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Lair - Phantom 25 Years Later

As October 2, 2011 nears to the 25th anniversary celebration of The Phantom of the Opera, a lot has been stirring in my opinionated soul. Usually, when I post an opinion, I pay for it in many ways.

The lair, in case you didn't know, isn't exactly the safest place to be these days as a fan of The Phantom of the Opera. After being hounded down by a few - met with hatred by a few, just because I saw, liked, and supported Love Never Dies, I've often considered throwing the towel into the lake under the opera house and never returning.

I've been defriended on social mediums, blocked, forum crucified, tweeted as a moron who writes garbage, and reviewed on Amazon as an "amateur" who knows nothing. Ah, the love of the lair! Where else in the entertainment community can you find such -- such unconditional love and acceptance? Maybe during the final lair scene on stage, but most definitely not in the Phantom community.

Now that I got that out of my soul, let's proceed to the 25th Anniversary celebration. I had posted an article sometime ago about Phantom forums, where I occasionally read, lurk, and foolishly contribute my opinion. There's been a ton of chatter in the lair recently regarding the 25th anniversary concert of The Phantom of the Opera to be held at the Royal Albert Hall.

The full cast has been announced. You can read all about it on CLICK HERE As the old saying goes, "You can please some of the people some of the time . . . but you can never please all of the people all of the time." So is the same with casting of the 25th anniversary celebration.

Frankly, I think some of the disgruntled rumblings around the lair come from the casting of Ramin Karminloo and Sierra Boggess, who stared in Love Never Dies in London. I can only surmise Ramin and Sierra are somehow marked for life for participating in LND, and therefore are not worthy to perform in the iconic celebration of 25 years.

A lot of fans had their own favorites, of course, they would have cast in the roles--that I can understand. However, casting isn't always easy. People have other commitments. Younger choices have been made rather than older seasoned performers. It is what it is. The power to choose was not given to you as a fan. And if you did have the power, you'd be in the same gondola - you'd please yourself, but alienate others.

However, Sierra and Ramin are no strangers to the roles. Ramin, of course, played Phantom at Her Majesty's Theatre, and Sierra played Christine in the Las Vegas production. Both were highly acclaimed in their performances, and I am sure will do the 25th anniversary justice, even if they're not your favorites.

The complaints go on and on, and I don't wish to rehash the unhappy ramblings of people's opinions on the remaining cast choices. However, I'll put my two cents into the ring before I take my Fandango ticket to Lloyd Center Theaters in Portland, Oregon to see the show at 11:00 a.m., on October 2nd. When I sit down in that theater seat, no doubt with popcorn in hand and friends sprinkled throughout the seats next to me, I'll first bemoan I'm not there in London. You guys that get to see this live are so lucky! Enjoy!

Then, as the lights dim, and the show starts, Ramin and Sierra will not be my focus, nor any of the other actors/actresses dressed in the stunning costumes. Instead, I will be looking at the Phantom, Christine, Raoul, Meg, Madame Giry, Carlotta, Piangi, the Managers, and the other wonderful extras who make up this fantastic show. I'm going to get lost in the scenery. I'm going to be enthralled when I hear The Music of the Night, and swoon in the lovely rooftop scene of All I Ask of You. Then, I'll no doubt shed my usual tear in the final lair scene when I hear the Phantom sing, "It's over now, the music of the night." (Even though it really isn't over.)

When it's all said and done, I'm going to jump to my feet and yell bravo and clap enthusiastically as the cast takes their bows and we celebrate worldwide 25 years of a wonderful show. I don't care who makes money off this production. I don't care who stars on stage. I don't care if you're one of the disgruntled fans in the lair who complain about everything. All I care about, is enjoying the show and loving the story.

I encourage you to do the same. Put aside your prejudices for a day and join in the worldwide celebration of The Phantom of the Opera wholeheartedly. That's what October 2, 2011 is all about. It's about the story you love and defend.

Oh, and Andrew - THANKS! Thanks for everything you've given us in the old and the new. My respect for you as a composer will never end.

Just in case you miss it live in London or miss it at the theater, head on over to the official website and preorder the CD/DVD. CLICK HERE

And that's my rambling opinion for the day!

The Phantom's Student aka Vicki

Monday, August 29, 2011

What Makes a Great On-Stage Phantom?

Wow, that question just popped into my head, as I look forward to having Peter Karrie on All Things Phantom on September 10, 2011 @ 12 Noon, PST. His performances have earned him the title of “The World’s Most Popular Phantom” on two separate occasions, and we're very excited to talk with him about his portrayal of the role.

However, the question remains open to you, my readers. What makes a great on-stage Phantom in your opinion? We can think of many greats from the past who have played the role from Michael Crawford to John Owen Jones, currently in the production at Her Majesty's Theatre.

As I've wandered the Internet and various forums, you often see posts from individuals who talk about their favorites. Each person seems to have their own idea of what makes a great Phantom and why that individual's performance touched them above others.

Of course, none of us have probably seen every single man on stage who has worn the mask around the world in the various productions. In case you are curious who has worn the mask in the past 25 years, there's a good thread on Deserted Phans, a forum for POTO, attempting to list all who have played the iconic Opera Ghost. CLICK HERE

Out of the ones we see on stage, each fan seems to pick one performer that moves them the most in their performance. Out of the four Phantom's I've seen perform the role, Scott Davies, is my favorite. I wish I could say, I've seen Peter, but I have not.

So what are the qualities of a great stage Phantom? Where in the production do we judge the pinnacle of their performance to form an opinion? Music of the Night? Point of No Return? Final lair scene?

Do we take into account the vocals of the performer? How about his nuances of the portrayal of the Phantom himself -- like the way he moves across the stage, or uses his hands and fingers? How about the acting and his reactions such as his cries, his tears, his rage, his parting words of love to Christine? There are so many variances, it's really hard to point to one single thing that makes a great Phantom. Frankly, I think it's whatever touches you as an individual in the whole of the performance itself.

The character of the Phantom is portrayed differently from actor to actor. Always the same lines, usually the same choreography, but differences of interpretation as to the personality of the individual in the black cape. One may appear more menacing and evil than another in the final lair scene or another perhaps controlling, frustrated, or broken.

In the Music of the Night, seduction, passion, and chemistry between Christine and the Phantom vary too. How many have you watched them glide their hands across her body and sway her in a certain way that gives you that craving to be embraced by that bad-boy? I find it quite fascinating, because some people are more prone to the "sexy" Phantoms rather than the "dangerous" psychopath that has you in his clutches. Ah, such sweet intoxication!

I guess whatever floats your gondola is the one you'll choose as your favorite great on-stage Phantom.

Anyway, tune in if you can to hear Peter Karrie. We'll promise to pick his brain about his interpretation of the Phantom of the Opera and perhaps learn why he was chosen as the favorite of many.

If you want, comments are open this time. Feel free to post what makes a great on-stage Phantom in your eyes.

The Phantom's Student aka Vicki

Enjoy Peter in the Music of the Night:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 27, 2011 - Closing of Love Never Dies London

Yes, it's a date - August 27, 2011.

What's the significance? Well, if you're a fan of Love Never Dies in London, it's a sad day indeed, because it will have its last performance at the Adelphi Theatre on The Strand. It means that a group of wonderful, talented, and fantastic men and women are going to be out of a job; and that, in itself, saddens me to the core.

What do I think of those performers who put their heart into this production from the beginning? Well, let me tell you, because I too have a voice.

First off, I think they are servants at heart, especially Ramin Karimloo. I have great respect for this man, because he understands what it means to serve and do your best in spite of obstacles and opposition. He served his master well. Hats off to you, Ramin! I respect you greatly -- your talent, fortitude, and heart from God. I wish you the best in your future endeavors.

To Sierra Boggess, Joseph Millson, Summer Strallin, Liz Robertson, Niamh Perry, Adam Pearce, Jami Reid-Quarrell, and the many talented young boys who played Gustave -- my hat off to you as well! You should be commended for your wonderful performances, your tenacity to ignore the naysayers, and your unending every night, wholehearted performances given to the audience. You guys rocked!

To Tam Mutu! Bravo! Wonderful interpretation of Phantom as well. Thanks, Tam, for your fantastic spirit and love of the character. It was a pleasure to see you perform more often in that iconic role. We wish you the very best as you move on in your career.

To the new cast Celia Graham, David Thaxton, Haley Flaherty, Tracey Penn, Charles Brunton, and the new group of young men who came in after the changes to the show as Gustav -- bravo to you as well. You supported the creator of the production, as he tirelessly endeavored to refine his work. You gave it your all and stood by him in the process. You picked up where others left off, and continued to give the audiences great performances.

We appreciate every one of you and wish you the best for the future. You have blessed the hearts of those who received you with open arms, gave us a touching stage production and the opportunity to once again to see Phantom and Christine interact with each other on stage in a story we didn't find offensive.

Though mud has been slung your way, websites have gone up to discredit the show, pages created to complain, protestors have left anti-show fliers at the theatre, nailed them on telephone poles, flipped you the bird, and participated in a war of words on every social medium imaginable on the Internet, you held your heads up high through it all and did your very best in spite of opposition to the story and the characters you represented. We admire you for the professional way in which you handled the onslaught, and we appreciate your loyalty to Andrew Lloyd Webber's vision to continue the story he put on stage 25 years ago.

When you take your last bow in Love Never Dies on the evening of August 27th at the Adelphi Theatre, be assured there are people who love and respect you deeply as the individuals and wonderful performers you are. God bless every one of you in your careers. May you go on and become successful in all that you set your hand to, and may you take with you cherished memories of your time in the production.

As you do, remember that those feelings you elicited in the audience, who watched your wonderful performances, will never die. They will live on in our hearts as fond memories, because we were privileged to be blessed by your outstanding talent and fantastic voices.

From my heart, and I'm sure from many others,

The Phantom's Student aka Vicki Hopkins

Note: Picture of final bow on closing night reposted with permission.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Love Never Dies - A Melbourne Attendee's Experience

A few months ago, I promised you a review from someone who has attended the Melbourne production of Love Never Dies. Below is a review from Anthony Grigsby, who kindly agreed to share his experience in seeing the show. Many of us cannot make it to Melbourne, including myself. His insight into his experience attending should give you an idea how it has affected one fan.

Even though I am quite familiar with the London version, the visual spectacle of the Melbourne production is exciting to say the least. It recently received three Helpmann awards for Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Lighting. The latest news is that Love Never Dies will be filmed in Melbourne on September 15th for international release, so many worldwide will be able to experience it via DVD and make up their own mind.

Below is Anthony's experience.

Phantom of the Opera and Love Never Dies have totally taken me to another time; they have made me fall in love. I first fell in love with the story of the Phantom when I came across the beautiful music that accompanies Phantom original London cast album. I listened to it countless times. Then I bought the original novel by Gaston Leroux. When the 2004 movie came out, I was hooked. When the Australian Production of Phantom came to Melbourne, I saw it there and followed it to Perth and Adelaide. Lastly, the many videos I've watched and the audio I've listened to of the many bootleg shows recorded around the world have kept me a diehard Phan.

Love Never Dies has kept the candle burning ever so brightly, not that the light had ever dimmed on Phantom, as it is the most successful piece of entertainment in all history. Many people have come out against the concept of a sequel to Phantom, but I for one will always be a supporter. This Melbourne/Australian production is a success, much to the dismay of many haters.

The buzz around the Regent Theatre is electric. I got here at 12:00pm today, because I hadn't bought a ticket online. I had heard about the Box Office specials that are not available online at, so I figured I would try my luck in person. After lining up, I scored a $45 ticket special (at a usual rate of $125, I think I did well.)

The Regent is packed today, plenty of wine, chatter, programs being sold and read, all these anxious/curious people are just waiting for the doors to open. I went to my seat, which was kind of to the side, but still it was only seven rows from the front so I am not complaining. I can admit I was a bundle of nerves, because I felt overwhelmed and emotional with The Phantom of the Opera and Love Never Dies had made me feel even more emotional.

Sitting there waiting for the show to start, for moments you look ahead at the set pieces in front of you that make up the setting of Coney Island. Listening to people beside me and behind me, you can tell that they are anxious and curious and not quite sure what to expect. This is my third performance, and I still feel emotional and happy and ready to surrender to the story again.

Suddenly, the lights . . . go . . . out. . .

Coney Island 1907

It begins with the lights . . . then the Aerie . . . already watching Ben Lewis in place as the Phantom, you see and feel his longing. He puts everything into his performance as the Phantom. He is such a professional actor.

Then he starts singing 'Til I Hear You Sing. He is just amazing when he sings. He has a deeper voice than Ramin Karimloo, but he makes the role his own. By the end of 'Til I Hear You Sing, you definitely know that he is still very much in love with his Christine.

The trio Doctor Gangle, Squelch and Miss Fleck begin the Coney Island Waltz along with an amazing ensemble of Freaks. At this point, you can be forgiven for not knowing where to look because the stage is full of light and color and all round talent and excitement. The set for Coney Island is comprised of a Roller Coaster set pieces, which also serve as a bridge for the performers, going up and down. It's an amazing use of the stage. The big Phantom mask appears on and off during the show.

As the story unfolds, we meet Sharon Millerchip, who has reprised her role of Meg as she played Meg in the original production of Phantom in Australia. She is very playful and talented, but you pick up very quickly that she just wants the Phantom's praise.

Then we meet Maria Mercedes, who plays Madame Giry as a no nonsense, single goal-orientated woman. What I find interesting is how Giry has gone from a protector of Christine to being very much against her. Meg although is excited at the prospect of seeing Christine again.

Then we meet our Christine, played by Anna O'Byrne, who is so beautiful, not only in her glowing appearance, but her voice as well which we don't hear until later. Simon Gleeson is brilliant as Raoul. He gives off a tone of control in everything he says and does, even though it becomes evident quickly that they have come to New York seeking fortune, because Raoul has become a drunk and has lost his fortune. I could hear people behind me saying, "she is beautiful."

Then we meet Gustave, who at this performance was played by Kurtis Papadinis. He is a talented boy, and you pick up quickly his curious nature, very much creating the family image.

So by this point, we have established that Christine is in New York to sing for Oscar Hammerstein. In an interesting deception, the trio who are played by Dean Vince, Paul Tabone and Emma Hawkins, help the Phantom's plan to deceive Christine and Raoul by appearing in a carriage, assuring them that they are taking them to Hammerstein when actually they are taking them to Coney Island.

At first, I didn't like how Raoul had become a drunk. You pick up the arrogance in him, Simon Gleeson does it so well. We hear Anna speak and sing at this point, she is just perfect as Christine. She was also an understudy for Christine in the Australian tour of Phantom a few years ago. She has great chemistry with the young actors who play her son Gustave. Being my third show, I've seen Trent Heath, Kurtis Papadinis, and Jack Lyall play the role of Gustave. She has a beautiful voice and shows genuine affection and plays a mother so well.

After she sings Look With Your Heart with Kurtis, we watch as Ben's Phantom and Anna's Christine reunite. Ben has such a presence. With Anna, you see the anger and hear it in Christine's reaction to seeing him again. What I love here though is that we find out the Phantom and Christine shared a night of passion together, so he has felt the joys of the flesh. This goes into Beneath a Moonless Sky and then into Once Upon Another Time. I found the chemistry between Ben and Anna here so natural. They make the story so real.

The Phantom threatens Christine that he will take Gustave away from her if she doesn't sing for him once more, and you can see that Christine is genuinely hurt by this. Then the Phantom disappears and leaves her with his music. It's here you see something happen, almost something sympathetic. She starts humming the music, and I think she realizes here it is about her, but that is just what I think. She walks to the balcony and the music is playing when Raoul reappears.

When Gustave meets the freaks and they take him to the Phantom's aerie, we see Ben really perform. He has strong vocal chords here. When he works it out that Gustave could be his son, you see and feel the genuine promise of him hoping Gustave will accept his deformity. Then when he confronts Christine, Anna and Ben share a real emotional moment. I was tearing up, feeling the agony he is feeling at finding out that he has a son after all this time and seeing what Ben puts into the Phantom's anguish.

Anna is comforting here in the fact that she promises to sing for him again, and then we watch as the Phantom proclaims that he will give everything to Gustave. Very deceptively, Maria who plays Giry reveals herself and her anger at finding this out. You feel for her, but you also don't in a way. I just take it as greed. I mean it is his son but then I see the argument there.

When Act 2 begins and we see Simon as Raoul drunk in a bar, it makes you pity him. Then you see Sharon as Meg, warning Raoul to leave. It's evident she doesn't want to be second fiddle. The Phantom and Raoul's duet here is gripping.

Then you see the conflict in Christine when she has to decide what she is going to do, to sing or not to sing. Anna puts so much into the title song Love Never Dies. The Phantom wins the bet here but it comes at such a cost. You hear the regret of Raoul. You see the desperation of Meg, and her depressive state turned to desperation. It becomes so much more emotional towards the moment she holds a gun to her own head then to the point she shoots Christine.

The shock, the pain, the hurt, you feel everything. The tears well up in your eyes. You are overcome with emotion and watch as Ben cries out and puts all his heart into his final scene with Anna. When Gustave goes to the Phantom, your heart just breaks knowing he has accepted him to be his father.

Many thanks to Anthony sharing how the experience of seeing Love Never Dies has touched him as an individual. Anthony has scored a ticket for the filming of Love Never Dies on September 15th, so he'll be back to see it again.

Thanks Anthony for sharing with us!

For those interested in a new fan site for Love Never Dies, please visit by Clicking Here

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Great Show Today on All Things Phantom - Kristen Hertzenberg

"Pitiful creature of darkness, what kind of life have you known?"

In the past 25 years, those lyrics have been sung by hundreds of actresses on stage worldwide. Join us this Saturday as we hear from Kristen Hertzenberg what it’s like to wear those spectacular costumes and sing those heart-wrenching words to the Phantom on stage at the fabulous Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular.

The show is destined to be informative and exciting, as we ask Kristin about her role as Christine, how she came to be on stage for this production, and what the story means to her personally.

If you missed it live, it’s archived. Visit our show page by CLICKING HERE and listening to the great show.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Leroux's Endearing Term for Erik - "Monster"

Fifty-one times . . . yes, 51 times (if my PDF search is right of the text), Leroux pens your beloved Phantom as a "monster."  In fact everyone in the story calls him a monster.  Leroux uses the term first, "What monster had carried her off and by what means?"

Christine calls him a monster, "My lies were as hideous as the monster who inspired them; but they were the price of my liberty."

Raoul calls him a monster, "And why should I hesitate to betray that monster, sir?"

The Persian refers to him as the monster.  "I recognized the monster's touch!"

What do you think of when you see the word monster?  The dictionary defines it as, "any animal or human grotesquely deviating from the normal shape, behavior, or character."  The Persian pretty well confirms the term in the following:
"I could not help shuddering when I thought of the monster. His horrible, unparalleled and repulsive ugliness put him without the pale of humanity; and it often seemed to me that, for this reason, he no longer believed that he had any duty toward the human race."
I've been thinking a lot about the mental instability of the Phantom in many ways and why it is we often  overlook his dark tendencies in spite of all his hideous characteristics.  I'm not just talking about what is behind the mask.  We all understand that deformity.  However, like Webber pens, there is more distortion to the man than a mere physical problem - he's deformed in his soul.  

When you read the statement above made by the Persian, it seems that he is inferring that Erik justified his distorted behavior toward humanity because his distorted face gave him justification to do so.  He had no  duty toward the human race whatsoever, so he acted out those beliefs by torturing and murdering others.  Even Christine accuses him in Webber's version of murdering without thought. 

What is it about Erik's distorted soul?  Is he filled with rage and hatred for his lot in life?  Does he torture others because he's a tortured soul?  Does he murder the normal, as if he wishes to murder the abnormal in him?  Erik is a man of anger, hurt, pain, and the outward manifestation of all that boils beneath the surface turns him into the monster everyone thinks he is in both appearance and action.

Each of us have a choice when faced with the monster.  We can recoil in fear and disgust.  We can show  empathy toward the pitiful creature of darkness, or we can pity him, like the Persian does.  It's that pity in Leroux's version that Raoul doesn't understand that both he and Christine offers to Erik.   
"I do not understand you. You treat him as a monster, you speak of his crime, he has done you harm and I find in you the same inexplicable pity that drove me to despair when I saw it in Christine!"

It's inexplicable to Raoul anyone should show the monster pity.  It drives him to despair that two people find it in their heart to understand the root of his problem.  Erik harms both of them - the Persian and Christine.  However, neither holds a grudge against the monster, but they hold a healthy fear of him knowing of the monstrous behaviors he's capable of displaying.  As the Persian states, "I have forgiven him him the harm which he has done me."

Christine does the same.  Kidnapped and imprisoned by the monster she fears, she watches his behavior and declares to Raoul that she cannot hate him.  
"With horror!" she said. "That is the terrible thing about it. He fills me with horror and I do not hate him. How can I hate him, Raoul? Think of Erik at my feet, in the house on the lake, underground. He accuses himself, he curses himself, he implores my forgiveness!...He confesses his cheat. He loves me! He lays at my feet an immense and tragic love. ... He has carried me off for love!...He has imprisoned me with him, underground, for love!"
Why must we forgive the monster?  The theme of forgiveness is one buried in the Phantom of the Opera  too teaching us it's better to forgive than to hate.  Yet it doesn't do away with the fact that Erik was a monster.  I often wonder if that is why Erik is sometimes portrayed as young and sexy underneath a deformity most can live with, because we want to sugarcoat the true distortion underneath.  It's frankly just too hideous to consider.

He was a madman in many ways, filled with rage and anger burning toward his fellow human being.  The root of that rage could be multifaceted from everything from jealousy of those normal, self-loathing for his hideous appearance, and anger towards the lack of compassion from others.  What other mental instability could he have possessed?  Could we use the insanity defense on his behalf for his murderous crimes? 

The legal definition states he could have been impaired by a mental disease or defect at the time he acted out his hatred toward others.  Did he not know what he was doing and acting out in volitional insanity or with an irresistible impulse to kill?  This defense states that one can distinguish between right and wrong at the time of the act, but suffers from a mental condition that makes him incapable of controlling himself.  Interesting to note that this defense is common in crimes of vengeance.  Only Erik can tell us if vengeance was served as he strangled the life out of his victims.  Did he enjoy it or did he loathe it?

Well, after this gross dissection of Erik's mental instability or distortion in his soul, what do you take away from his personality?  If he had harmed you, would you have forgiven him or would you have been like Raoul still filled with disgust over the monster that caused you harm?  Forgive him or not, Erik definitely had a very dark side about his persona.  Perhaps that is why we like to smooth over that inward ugliness with handsome men behind the mask we find appealing and sexy regardless of his facial deformity on one side.

Enough of psychoanalyzing our beloved Phantom.  He represents within each of us the light and darkness we possess in our own souls.

Monstrously yours,
The Phantom's Student aka Vicki

PS...if these additional posts keep up, I'll be releasing edition number three!  The thoughts just keep coming.  Blame it on the monster!


Friday, June 24, 2011

Concept of Redemption in Phantom of the Opera

Everyone takes something different away from the Phantom of the Opera. There are many themes buried in the story, which I think lends to its undying popularity. It continues from generation to generation, and the reason behind it must certainly be attributed to how it speaks to us individually in many areas of our lives.

Some general themes we often relate to are:
  • The hurt of unrequited love
  • The need to hide behind our symbolic masks to veil our inward ugliness
  • The need for acceptance and unconditional love
  • The need to be forgiven for the evils of our past
  • The need to be seen and wanted in order to save us from our loneliness and isolation
No doubt the list can go on and on. However, one theme that many take away from the story is the concept of redemption that plays out in the final lair scene. That theme is often prevalent with those of religious beliefs, because they see in the story analogies that relate to their ideals. Perhaps it's the salvation they wish the Phantom to experience, who once murdered, tortured, and kidnapped others. How he receives that salvation comes through the realization that if one truly loves, one lays down their life for another.

I believe that is part of the theme that some individuals attempt to hang onto in regards to the original, and why the sequel bothers them. It infers that after that kiss in the lair, the Phantom wasn't really redeemed after all or was he? His parting words at the end are not one of praise that he's been saved. Rather he cries:
"Forget me; forget this; leave me alone; take the boat, swear to never to tell of the secret you know of the angel in hell. . ."
Those words tell me he wishes to do one thing, and that is to sink back into isolation and obscurity, because he still believes he's an angel of hell and not a redeemed angel of heaven.

I find it interesting how we all want to save the man from his pitiful life. Forget Raoul who has it all - the riches, the good looks, and the girl. We love the underdog, in spite of his dark tendencies and many sins. He needs fixing. Someone should rescue him. Let's all give him a kiss, and show him that he can be loved. We hate the thought that his isolation remains, and we want to pull him out of the dark lair and bring him into the light.

The theme of redemption is certainly there, but redemption can often be a process that is fully realized after a significant event happens in our life. Throw away all the books you've read and the recent stage sequel. People cry, Phantom Needs No Sequel! But are you really satisfied with the ending? How do you come to terms with his life after he disappears through the chair? Do you really think that experience instantly changed him, and he lived a happy life afterward? Was he suddenly healed from Christine's kiss or was he still a broken man having lost the one person he loved more than life? It's an interesting question to ponder, and I'll be honest that I'm often curious as to how people rationalize what we are left with at the end of the stage version.

I think that if he really learned anything in the lair scene, it was the pain of sacrifice. He learned the meaning of unconditional love by watching two people he harmed display the act in front of him. We could spend plenty of time analyzing what was really behind Christine's kiss. Was it pity? Was it coerced? Was it surrender? Was it love? Whatever it was, it was that pivotal act that shook the Phantom to the core and became a turning point in his life. However, I don't believe that incident was the cure all of what ailed the Phantom. He was still a man in isolation. He was a man who experienced profound loss having loved another. He was still hounded down by everyone, who showed him no compassion and wanted him dead. If that's the case, then where was the redemption?

Redemption can be an instantaneous experience, but it can also be a process. Whether we like the plot of Love Never Dies or not, it does have a purpose in the lives of some fans. It brings closure. I see it as the end of the process or his journey. He's slow to learn. The obsession that he was never able to get over came to end. Often, things need to be taken away from us so we can finally change and grow. He no longer has Christine, but he now has the responsibility of fatherhood. Will he finally learn from that experience and find the culmination of his redemption in the end? Perhaps the unconditional love will be given to him by a child rather than a woman, and he will learn for himself the concept of laying your life down for another. Not what we had pictured, but it will serve a purpose.

In any case, if you want the story to have a fulfilling ending and you wish for the theme of redemption to remain, you must give to the Phantom some story in your mind that leads him down that ultimate path. Disappearing into the chair leaves for me a hollow ending. God knows, I had to write my own book to satisfy what I pictured for him the remainder of his life. Countless others have written stories as well to satisfy their cravings to close the story one way or the other.

It's obvious that some fans (and I know - not all) do find that closure in the current sequel by Webber. Apparently, it satisfies their questions. If you are one of those individuals who didn't need a sequel to satisfy your curiosity regarding the Phantom's ultimate redemption, that's great. No doubt you've figured that out for yourself. However, there are those that are still searching for the answer to what's beyond the back of that chair and the mask that's left behind. Right or wrong, it's just the way it is.

As for me, I see the concept of redemption in this story as a process and a journey, and not one that came to completion at the end of a kiss. Frankly, I think that would have been too easy. Change comes through growth, and growth comes through experience. The Phantom up to that point had neither.


Vicki aka The Phantom's Student

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Amusement Park is Closing Down In London

Well rumors yesterday swelled on the Internet, and my Google alerts filled my inbox this morning. Andrew Lloyd Webber's production of Love Never Dies in London is closing August 27. There is no word of reworking it in London, though the Melbourne show continues in Australia.

Read here the morning news at:

No doubt a variety of reasons pushed the show to close in London. The Adelphi is co-owned by Webber and another group, who wished to bring in a new production hopefully more profitable. In addition, the bad reception in London and the opposition from a certain campaign tainted the show from the beginning. As far as critics, critics are critics, and mediocre reviews were published. However, some of the general public and the fans generally liked the show, in spite of the crap thrown its way. The voices that were the loudest, didn't necessary represent the entire Phantom community.

I'm so very thankful I had the chance to see it both in its original version and revised version and have been blessed to watch the performances of wonderful performers. Frankly, I never would have made it to London and enjoyed my first experience of English soil, if it hadn't been for the lure of seeing the show and reporting on it when I returned.

My heartfelt good wishes go out to all the cast as they move onto other opportunities. And to Webber, I say, thanks for letting me observe in London the choreographed reunion of my favorite two characters, Christine and the Phantom.

While some are no doubt having parties and others are already standing by the grave ready to throw the first clod of good-riddens dirt on the London production's coffin, it's still alive elsewhere on stage in the world. If Webber stays true to his plans, it will tour Australia, and perhaps one day visit Toronto and Broadway.

Usually we say it ain't over yet until the fat lady sings. In this instance it ain't over yet until the last one is thrown over the pier and drowned. My support of Webber and his endeavors continue, as I admire the man greatly and enjoy his creations.

To the London cast who leaves - GOD BLESS EVERY ONE OF YOU!

To the naysayers I say, don't rejoice over the failure of another.

To the lovers and supporters of Love Never Dies, rejoice in what you had the opportunity to enjoy in London.

To Webber I say, take heart, there are those that still support you and your creative right to take Love Never Dies elsewhere.

I'm itching to say so much more! I hate it when I have to bite my tongue. I really hurts.

The Phantom's Student

NOTE:  I've closed the comments on this post for a variety of reasons.  Mostly, I just don't want this blog to turn into a forum debate about Love Never Dies.  There are so many other places on the Internet to talk about the likes, dislikes, and its recent demise from the West End, that I just don't feel it appropriate to rehash the matter here.  Thanks for your understanding. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Q&A With Tam Mutu - Alternate Phantom at London's Love Never Dies

Recently, Tam Mutu graciously agreed to answer a series of questions on the Tam Mutu Appreciation Group page on Facebook. 

Since I had the opportunity to see Tam in April of this year and thought his performance was stellar as the Phantom, including grabbing him at the stage door to get his autograph and meet him personally, I asked for permission to post the questions/answers on my blog.  Permission was given, so here they are.  If you wish to know more about Tam's background in theatre, his bio is linked back to the Love Never Dies website.  

Many fans are hoping that Tam will be the Phantom when Ramin Karimloo leaves in September.  He would be an excellent choice.  His voice is powerful, and his interpretation of the Phantom is moving.  I hope you'll join me and many others and support Tam in his role in Love Never Dies.

1) What do you like best about playing the Phantom?

In musical theatre terms, he is like a super hero. It’s great to be able to give my interpretation of a wonderful character and join a very successful list of people who have.

2) How do you prepare mentally to become the character that you play on stage?

For me the mental work starts at the beginning of the rehearsal process. I do a lot of research on the character and on the play itself (when the play is set, location, etc.). I try to learn as much as I can and talk things through with fellow actors, designers, and, of course, the director. This allows me to make choices and find my own truth. I learn my lines inside out. Before I go on stage, I may look over notes I have made throughout the rehearsal process or that I have been given by the resident director from a previous show/rehearsal. If I have done my preparation and research and obviously rehearsed thoroughly, the mental work has been done. It’s then a case going on stage and trying to remember the work/choices I have made and aiming to be as truthful each night as I can possibly be.

3) Have you ever had any accidents on stage?

Yes. One night in the old (original) show after ‘"Til I Hear You Sing" , I used to rush upstage and close the curtain around the Christine doll after being interrupted by Madame Giry and Meg. Well this night as I ran upstage, I slipped and fell flat on my back nearly knocking over Sierra who was the doll. There was a massive gasp from the audience. So embarrassing!

4) Have you some sort of ritual before each performance?

The make up usually takes around 45 minutes each day. I generally tend to listen to music or watch DVDs while this is happening. It can be a little mundane otherwise. It used to take over an hour, but the wig department has done really well to get the time down. Well done Biddy!

5) Would you like to play the first Phantom at Her Majesty’s?

Ha Ha Ha! I get asked this a lot. Yes, I would like to do the original Phantom. Be nice to complete the circle, albeit I have gone anti-clockwise in the process.

6) Have you experienced incidents when you messed up your lines or did something wrong during a show?

Yes. This actually happens more often than people think. The trick is to cover it as best as possible. Most of the time the audience doesn’t notice but it is a horrible feeling when it happens.

7) Do you have any specific music you like to listen to while you get ready for a show?

My music is random to say the least. One day it could be Mario Lanza the next it could be Eminem. It usually reflects how I am feeling or if I need to be inspired or motivated in some way.

8) Was it hard to adjust to the new changes and a new cast?

Yes, it was weird at first but you learn to adjust pretty quickly. The line changes were awkward as some of them were very subtle, but enough to trip you up ("‘Til I Hear You Sing’" being a prime example). I used to see costumes and not match the faces with what they were wearing. Was really weird. Things are all good now though.

9) Was there a time on the stage when you actually felt you were the Phantom?

I guess there is an element of that every night really. I have to commit to what I am doing and believe that I am that person.  Otherwise I am not being truthful, and I feel like I am cheating the audience.

10) Who has been your favourite Gustave to work with?

Ooh, I can’t answer that. All of them have brought something different to it. I am amazed by how fearless they all are. Inspirational really!

11) Would love it if you could make an album, but if that’s not possible how about having an official website where you could perhaps record some songs and put them online, as quite a number of musical theatre artists already do?

That is something I should be looking into I know. Am not the best at looking at myself and the idea of my own website makes me queasy. Ha Ha Ha!

12) I can imagine it must be really tiring some nights, so how do you wind down after a long day at the theatre?

Cup of tea at home. Movie/TV/Xbox.

13) What is your view on people that see the show on multiple occasions?

Thank you for all your support. We must be doing something right.

14) How do you feel about people who wait to see you at stage door?

I feel that if someone has taken the time to watch you in the show, then the least you can do is give them five minutes of your time.

15) If the show were to become a movie, would you consider playing the Phantom?

Ha Ha Ha! Yes think I stand a good chance of pipping Johnny Depp and Hugh Jackman to the role. It would be great.

16) What is your dream role?

When I was at college I always wanted to play Curly in ‘Oklahoma’. I love all the traditional Musical Theatre roles. Have had a thing about Martin Guerre for a while too.

17) Is there anyone you would really love to sing/act with?

Wow that’s a toughie! Would love to sing with Vittorio Grigolo. Am a massive fan of his. Also sing/act with Hugh Jackman. He can do everything and one of my big inspirations.

18) How did your acting/singing vocation start? Was there anyone who inspired you to become an actor?

I was a late starter really. I was in the school choir, but didn’t start drama/singing until I was about 15. I joined the local amateur dramatics society and gradually became more confident and more interested. I remember the first time I thought I would like to act for a living and that was when I was in the NYMT doing a production of ‘Whistle Down the Wind’. The person who most inspired me to want to perform was probably one of my best friends, Jeremy Sharples. He had (still does) an amazing voice and was in my local am dram club. He’ll probably kill me for mentioning his name Ha Ha ha!

19) Are there any singers/actors who have inspired you, either living or dead, i.e. we know you admire Mario Lanza.

It’s strange really because I never really thought of myself as much of a singer. It was just something I did and enjoyed. Have grown and learned so much from singing and learned to appreciate voices and allow myself to be appreciated, if that makes sense. Anyway singers: Definitely Mario Lanza! Pavarotti, new guy called Vittorio Grigolo (amazing!), Jeremy Sharples, Freddy Mercury, George Michael, Sierra Boggess, Whitney Houston and the amazing Jeff Buckley. Actors: I love Leo Di Caprio (always wanted his career) and Johnny Depp. Pacino because you can’t take your eyes off him and my friend Joseph Millson who is supremely talented.

20) Which is your favourite part of Love Never Dies, and do you prefer one song to any other?

My favourite part is probably the end of Act 1 when the Phantom finds out about Gustave. It’s great to do. I love all the music, but feel really fortunate to be able to sing ‘"Til I Hear You Sing." It’s such a great song, and I think one of ALW best for a leading man.

21) If the show were to be moved to Broadway, would you like to go with it as Phantom?


22) Any roles on the great White Way you would like to play?

Any. Would be great to work on Broadway.

23) Many London theatres are said to be haunted. Have you ever come across anything spooky and seen/heard an actual theatre ghost?

I haven’t actually. The scariest thing I have seen is probably some of my fellow actors naked in the dressing room. It can be very traumatic!

24) Going back to the question of your own website, apart from enabling folks to hear you sing we could also be kept up to date with any concerts or future shows/TV/theatre work that you might be doing. Any plans for a website?

I am hoping to sort something out.

25) Do you have a favourite film… book… TV programme?

Film: Top 3 (at the moment and in no particular order) Star Wars (Empire Strikes Back), Groundhog Day and The Usual Suspects. Book: A season with Verona by Tim Parks (Loved it) and The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. TV Show: Spongebob Squarepants (Yes I am deadly serious!) and South Park.

26) Lastly, the figure from history you’d most like to meet.

Alexander the Great (male) he must have been some guy. Cleopatra (female) see what all the fuss is about.

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Thanks to those who were involved in spearheading this Q&A with Tam Mutu on Facebook.   The talent in the show is phenomenal, and I'm happy to support getting the word out on Tam's great interpretation of the Phantom and his aspirations for the future.

Go visit his page on Facebook and show your support.

The Phantom's Student aka Vicki