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Name: Mary | Gender: female | Posts: 18 | Roses: 10
Old 02-23-2016 at 09:13 PM
MarySkater
Wandering Child
Opera Performer

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Roaming Dungeons
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Showing my age here, but I was always interested in Phantom from when the show first opened. I lived within day-trip distance of London, but... it was expensive, and it was so high-profile that you really needed to book months in advance. So I never got to it during Michael Crawford's run.

Later, I had the offer of a ticket at short notice with a group who were going. If I remember rightly, Dave Willetts was playing the Phantom by then. So I went, BUT - our seats were in the "balcony," right at the top/ back of the house. My strongest recollection is of thinking, "I'm sure this is a good show - I wish I was near enough to see it." I really don't recommend those seats.

So I got some more money together, made my own booking and went back, this time sitting almost at the front of the stalls. Peter Karrie was Phantom, and he absolutely captivated me. That was when I really fell in love with the show. Through the late 80's and into the 90's, I saw it several times, and then didn't go back for quite a while.

I hadn't been following Phantom news, and it was quite by chance that I heard about the 25th Anniversary performance at the Royal Albert Hall, just 2 days before booking opened. I was by then just a couple of years from retirement, when I'd be moving further away from London, so I thought, "Great - I'll go and see that, it'll probably be my last Phantom, but I'll go out on a high." Booking opened at 10am on Monday, I was on the website by 10:10, but had to wait in a queue until about 11:30 to get to the booking screen. I looked at what was available (and how much it cost!) for the 3 shows at the RAH, and settled for the Sunday evening, the final show and the one filmed for the DVD. With history repeating itself, I found myself once more at the back of the house - the cheapest seats at RAH cost about as much as best seats at the regular venue, while good seats were into the hundreds of pounds, way beyond my means.

Still, I enjoyed it. I like Ramin, even if he really is a little young and pretty for the part. And all the presentations at the end were great, when the original cast came on. A good evening, but... not the best Phantom show I'd seen, because of the limitations of the venue. No mirror bride, no descending angel or chandelier crash; I'm very glad to have the DVD, because it's a record of about 90% of the theatre production, but I did miss that other 10%.

So I thought, no, that can't be my "last" Phantom. I have to see it again at its real home, Her Majesty's Theatre. So a few months later I went with a work colleague. We sat in the front row of the Royal Circle, possibly the best seats in the house if you're not tall (not much legroom). The Phantom that time was Earl Carpenter. But for some reason I couldn't warm to him. He didn't do anything wrong, but he just didn't touch my heart the way the Phantom usually does.

Still looking for my ideal "last" Phantom, I went again a while later. (And sat in the stalls, right under the chandelier, so I could watch it swoop down at me!) This time it was Peter Joback in the title role. His singing at the RAH encore hadn't inspired me with confidence, but by the time I saw him, he had improved considerably. I won't say his voice was brilliant, I'd give it "borderline-acceptable." But he really scored with his acting. He captured the character for me, and really moved me. Thank you, Peter, for my last Phantom. It was worth waiting for.

Mary
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