Sunday, April 17, 2011

Phantom of the Opera - London

The other night, I saw The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre. Last year when I visited London, I saw it as well, but was not very impressed over the performance of the Phantom, David Shannon. I was a little nervous that once again there could be some disappointment, because John Owens Jones, the current Phantom, was on holiday. Well, I wasn't disappointed. To be frank, I was blown away. The Phantom of the night was Scott Davies, who is the standby Phantom. He has played Phantom in the West End and the UK Tour.

As soon as Scott took to the stage, I knew I was in for a treat. His voice is wonderful, and his inflections and tone in each of the pieces he sings is quite fantastic. When Scott sang The Music of the Night, he brought me to tears. It was a scene unparalleled by any Phantom I've seen on stage. I will admit, I have not seen many, only three others perform the role. For the first time, I saw the stage version how I think I've always wanted to see it portrayed, with gut emotion from the man behind the mask.

A couple of little nuances I love in the show that Scott does, which may seem silly to you, are at the beginning after he takes his hat and cape off, he smooths back the hair of his wig. Not all Phantoms do that, and for some reason it sort of plays upon the need for the Phantom's desire to appear attractive like any other human, especially in this important meeting between himself and Christine when he has her under his spell. The second thing I love is when the Phantom catches the fainting Christine in their arms, rather than letting them fall to the floor. The way he carries her off to the gondola and lays her down and then covers her up carefully while singing the last chords of The Music of the Night is fantastic.

The Music of the Night was very powerful - wonderfully sung by both. Sophia Escobar played Christine, and she was perfection as well. Great chemistry between the two individuals. When Christine removes his mask, Scott's performance takes to another level of brilliance. He sobs with such convincing agony upon the floor, that it tears at your heart. His crawl across the stage to Christine and her returning to him the mask is a very emotional moment. I was mesmerized. It was at this point, I almost wish that the Phantom had more stage time.

The Point of No Return and the final lair scene are mesmerizing. I wish I could live in London and could see these iconic performers such as Ramin Karimloo, John Owen Jones, and Scott Davies play Phantom often. After seeing this performance, Scott remains at the top of my list for Phantoms.

As I sat there watching it too taking in scene by scene, I wondered what the revised tour production will be like. I'm almost inclined to think they may go toward the Vegas production 90 minute version, which cuts a couple of scenes and shortens a few songs. I only hope that if they go that route, they don't cut The Point of No Return, but leave that song whole. It's such an important scene, it should be left intact for the full length. The scenes cut from Vegas include The Manager's Office (shortened and changed) and A Rehearsal for Don Juan Triumphant. The bringing down of the chandelier occurs at the end.

One more thought before I close, Scott's portrayal at the end in the lair scene portrayed a Phantom, in my opinion, on the point of madness. When the show ended, and I compare the Phantom of the Phantom of the Opera and the Phantom in Love Never Dies ten years later, I can understand the difficulty of some connecting the dots. Depending on who portrays that Phantom, there really is a large gulf and a lot of creative liberty taken to bring the story forward. Perhaps that is why initially Webber chose to bring Ramin from Phantom London to Phantom Love Never Dies to keep some kind of connection. Who knows. One can only surmise in your own mind what change has taken place in the man from then until now to make the switch to Love Never Dies. If you can't, then seeing it as a work by itself, is perhaps the only way one can justify the two.

Anyway, if you're in London, go see it! Great cast. I did enjoy everyone this time around. Perhaps next time I get here, I can check out John Owen Jones' take on the infamous mask man.

Vicki aka The Phantom's Student


Anonymous said...

Hi. I took a German visitor to see Phantom at the weekend. She was eager to see the show as she had never seen it before. I have seen three phantoms previously. One who's name I can't remember as it was so long ago (about 20 years ) didn't like him anyway, although I loved the show. More recently I have seen Earl Carpenter and John Owen Jones, both of whom I enjoyed. This time I was expecting Geronimo Rauch but the Phantom of the hour was Scott Davies and I was disappointed as I thought I was going to see an also-ran. I was badly mistaken!!! What an absolutely amazing performance! His voice is magnificent and his acting convinced me entirely, which is a hard thing to do in my case. My visitor was in tears and could barely speak as we left the theatre. Go and see this Phantom. Don't listen to other peoples opinions. Make up your own mind. It's the only sensible thing to do.

Vicki Hopkins said...

Totally agree!