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Name: James the Exceedingly Evil | Gender: Phan Dude | Age: 29 | Posts: 1,908 | Roses: 0
Old 03-25-2008 at 08:48 AM
IamErik771
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Interview with Kevin Gray  Post [1] »


Greetings, fellow Phans, and welcome to TPO's very first Phan Interview! Earlier this month, I collected questions from TPO members to send to former POTO star Kevin Gray. He e-mailed me his replies last week, and now that we have this lahvely forum (huge thank-you to our amazingly awesome Hollie!), all of you will be able to see the questions that were sent, and his answers to them. But first, a bit of background:

Quote:
Kevin played Raoul and the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, recently toured around the US for the Three Phantoms concert event, and also played Erik in the POTO musical by Ken Hill. He is perhaps best-known for playing the Engineer in the US tour of Miss Saigon, and he sang the role in the Complete Symphonic Recording of the show. He originated the role of Valentin in Kiss of the Spider Woman, and has also played the King of Siam in The King and I, Thomas Andrews in Titanic, Pontius Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar, and most recently, Scar in the Cheetah Company of The Lion King, which closed in February of 2008. In addition to his onstage credits, Kevin also has some film and television roles under his belt, and has co-written the musical Dracula...The Covenant.


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Name: James the Exceedingly Evil | Gender: Phan Dude | Age: 29 | Posts: 1,908 | Roses: 0
Old 03-25-2008 at 08:50 AM
IamErik771
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 Post [2] »


And now, without further ado, I present . . . the interview! To make it easier to read, I've put all the questions in a quote box, and credited the member who sent the question.

~~~


Quote:
Originally Posted by Forgotten Angel
I once saw you as the Engineer in "Miss Saigon" at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey. Do you find there is a difference between performing in regional theatres and performing on Broadway?
Yes, there are many differences. Monetary constraints, due to the smaller size of most regional theaters, change the way actors are hired and shows designed, orchestras are frequently compromised, etc. I am speaking now of regional theaters, not to be confused with road touring houses, which take on modified versions of Broadway shows, altered to travel and fit numerous venues. Broadway versions are not always the best, but usually have the advantage of deep casting pools, top musicians and technicians with higher salaries, and so forth. The audiences vary from city to city, and Broadway audiences are extremely demanding. They pay top dollar for the privilege!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christine's Shadow
Were there any significant differences between the way you played the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber's version and Ken Hill's musical?
The two shows have little in common. The Hill version is much like the novel, based on Raoul's point of view and having a far less romantic take on the relationship of the Phantom and Christine. Ken Hill's version is campier and more comic, and does not have original music, relying on the work of Mozart and Gounod, among others. The style of the Andrew Lloyd Webber version is much more sophisticated, reflecting the artistic eye of Harold Prince and Maria Björnson. And of course, Ken Hill's version is a book musical, while the Webber piece is sung through. All of these elements change the way you play the piece. In effect, you play the play you are given.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christine's Shadow
Did you pursue any form of research when preparing for the role of the Phantom? For example, reading Gaston Leroux's book, watching the show(s) prior to auditioning, drawing from other acting/personal experience, etc.
I saw neither show before auditioning, but I had read the book as I prepared to play in the Ken Hill version, so when I auditioned for the Webber version, I had familiarity. I actually auditioned for the role of Webber's Phantom while playing in the Hill version, and was told I was too young, so I then auditioned to play Raoul. In this case the Hill version was useful to me, as the part of Raoul was far more fully realized in that interpretation, and again, having read the novel, which goes into great detail about Raoul and his experience, I had an advantage. I got the part, and shortly thereafter had a chance at The Phantom. No doubt having been in the show was useful to me in getting re-cast.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IamErik771
Was there a specific performer who greatly influenced how you approached playing Raoul, the Phantom, or any of your other roles?
I have to say no. People always ask if I saw Michael Crawford, which I did not. My approach to Raoul was very different to Steve Barton's, the original actor. And I worked with my friend Cris Groenendaal when I played Raoul, but we are very different as actors and singers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IamErik771
What was your favorite thing about being in "The Phantom of the Opera?"
There are so many things. I love the music, the romance of it, and even after twenty years I think it is one of the most beautiful physical shows ever done. The costumes were a privilege to wear. And in its day it was the biggest hit in New York, which gave the experience a glamour that was very thrilling. But my favorite thing about being in "Phantom" was meeting my wife, Dodie Pettit, who was in the original cast on Broadway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IamErik771
What was your favorite song or scene to perform in "Phantom?"
I love the final lair, the freedom of that scene. A thousand performances into my run in the show I was still discovering things, and springing them on my fellow actors!

Quote:
Originally Posted by IamErik771
Did you have a favorite Phantom, Christine, Raoul, or other cast member to perform alongside?
I had the privilege of sharing the stage with so many incredible actors during my years with Phantom that to name even a few would insult the many I'd want to include. Suffice it to say that I made lifetime friends and family through the show, and for that I am forever grateful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ubaldo Piangi
What were the differences you found in playing Raoul at one time, and then the Phantom at another?
I think I had my own take on Raoul, making him as impetuous and arrogant as I could, so that when he sang "Christine forgive me, please forgive me" he meant it. Crazy as it seems, I thought of him as having a Latin "machismo," making him more concerned with overcoming the Phantom and less clearly about Christine's safety. I wanted him to have an agenda, and an Achilles heel, and that was his youthful arrogance.

I think it is very important that there is a real triangle of strong people in this play, and that without the Phantom, Christine, and Raoul all having strong points of view, the show is not as exciting or interesting to play. When I was Raoul, I was very focused on giving the actor playing the Phantom as much as I could to play with, to advance the story and help him along. As the Phantom, you don't have very much actual stage time, so you rely on the rest of the cast to build your story throughout the night. As the Phantom I was able to focus on Christine, to allow my obsession full force, and to build back from there to the cause of my self-image.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ubaldo Piangi
Which of the two roles did you enjoy more, and why?
I took a lot of pride in my performance as Raoul, as I didn't want him to be a conventional romantic leading man, but to have frailties and faults like everyone has. But the Phantom is a terrific challenge, vocally and emotionally, and so rich with nuance and subtleties, I felt I could have explored him forever.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christine's Shadow
Do you find you can create a greater difference in character dynamic between Raoul and the Phantom, having played both roles?
I think I have addressed this in previous questions, but the role of the Phantom gives many opportunities to affect others throughout the evening, whereas I think Raoul is more reactive to what happens. The hardest part of playing Raoul is to let the story be a surprise each evening, to discover the clues as the audience does, especially when you've played it many times. The Phantom controls the tempo and the discoveries to a greater extent, but there is no show without both dynamics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christine's Shadow
What challenges (vocally, dramatically, etc.) did each character present (if any)?
Again, we've talked about may of the issues here. But vocally, the Phantom is so naked, so delicate, that there is great pressure to sing its nuances well. I was able to live as I leased when I played Raoul (I was much younger!) but I rose each morning thinking about singing the Phantom. The demand of the role and its' fame was daunting at times. People came to see the actor playing that role, and so there was never a show where you felt you could relax a bit. Both parts are very physical (it is NOT a show for actors who fear heights!). And of course, the Phantom has to reach great emotional heights in the final lair, and be heartbreakingly vulnerable in the angel. On the other hand, Raoul always has to look good!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by IamErik771
What was the most amusing or embarrassing thing to happen to you during a performance?
Many things happened to me over the years. Actors missed entrances, props failed to work, and I slipped on the fog remains during the curtain call at my very first performance as Raoul. Had to bow sitting on stage. Classy!

Once, our stage manager told me that Steve Barton used to do a nice bit of business. We use "reverse tabs," meaning the audience sees the action from the front of house, then we go to black and show the backside of the curtain, the reverse or actor's perspective. By running upstage just before the blackout, Steve was able to make it seem as though he was coming though the curtain from the audience side when the lights came up. But when I tried it, the lights came up and I found I was actually upstage of the curtain and blocked from the audience. In a panic, I became like one of those people whose adrenaline allows them to lift a car off a child, and I grabbed the steel bar which is used to weight the curtain as it falls, managing to lift it a small distance. But when I tried to let go and scoot under, it pinned me to the deck, with my face appearing to the actors waiting for me on stage! They just laughed and laughed at me, and several left the stage as I scraped under the curtain and tried to recover my dignity. Nice...

Quote:
Originally Posted by IamErik771
Of the different states and countries that you’ve been to for performances, which ones are your favorites?
Again, there are so many, and I have truly loved everywhere I’ve been able to appear in my career. There is no place like New York, nor London, nor Los Angeles, Chicago, etc. But I do have a soft spot for Edinburgh, Scotland, and I love San Francisco too. But what's not to like about Hawaii, I ask!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by IamErik771
Have you seen the "Phantom of the Opera" film based on the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical? If so, what did you think of it?
I have never seen it start to finish, so I don't have much to go on, but it seemed very pretty to look at. I wasn't sure what they were going for story wise, and singing on the screen is always tricky to my ear. So, sorry, I can't give you much on this one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Forgotten Angel
You have taken on many roles throughout your career. If you had to choose, which one would you like to do again?
I'd very much like to play the Phantom again. I always felt I was a bit too young when I played the part, and life has been good at giving me experiences, some hard ones, that have formed a more mature viewpoint. And I think my voice has more colors now. I just finished a record ("It's My Time To Shine" due out May 1st) which includes "Music of the Night" and it was very interesting to approach the part and the scene after these years. Got me thinkin'...

Quote:
Originally Posted by IamErik771
Is there any role you haven’t played yet that you would really like the chance to try?
There are so many. I'd love to play Sweeney Todd, and I'd like to play Georges Seurat in "Sunday In The Park With George." And lately I've been thinking I might like shot at Henry Higgins in "My Fair Lady." On the play side, I'd love to play Macbeth. It is Shakespeare's leanest and most cinematic play, I think. And you know, I love the Dracula story. My wife and I wrote a very beautiful musical chamber play ("Dracula...The Covenant") and I'd like to play him again. We just got to scratch the surface.

***

To James and all the gang at "The Phantom's Opera," my sincerest thanks for this forum. I hope I've been able to illuminate a few things in my responses, and look forward to seeing you all along the way to wherever it is we are going. Until then, believe in the magic, and soar!!


My Best Regards,
Kevin Gray


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Old 03-29-2008 at 04:05 AM
Christine's Shadow
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It's Phantom meets Hamlet- Phamlet!

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 Post [3] »


WOW.

:) Thanks again James for starting this. I'm kinda off the walls at the moment about this! Kevin seems so incredibly nice. ^_^


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Old 03-29-2008 at 04:24 AM
Minoru Inoue
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 Post [4] »


Wowowow! That was incredible. Ahhh~ I have to look up recordings of his performances now. I'm pretty sure I saw him on Broadway one of the times I saw Phantom. <3
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Old 04-30-2008 at 12:59 AM
The Countess
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I will not give up my own self...

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 Post [5] »


Are we going to be doing any more interviews? That was one very informative by the way.
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Name: James the Exceedingly Evil | Gender: Phan Dude | Age: 29 | Posts: 1,908 | Roses: 0
Old 04-30-2008 at 09:43 AM
IamErik771
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 Post [6] »


Yes, we're planning to do many more interviews. :D The tough part is figuring out who to interview next, and getting their permission. And I shall need to discuss that with the other mods . . . but if any of you happen to know how we can contact a stage performer, writer, or anyone else connected to professional musical theatre (POTO or otherwise), please send a PM to me or any of the other mods. Or you can post here, of course.


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Name: Viktoria | Gender: A proper young lady | Age: 23 | Posts: 1,438 | Roses: 144
Old 05-02-2008 at 02:07 AM
The Countess
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 Post [7] »


Will do and I'll research it. :)

I think Marni Raab (Christine) would be up for it. I mean, she openly says on her site to e mail her anytime so *voila*
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Name: James the Exceedingly Evil | Gender: Phan Dude | Age: 29 | Posts: 1,908 | Roses: 0
Old 05-05-2008 at 03:04 AM
IamErik771
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 Post [8] »


Hey, all! For those of you who are still curious about what Kevin's voice sounds like, his first solo album can be found here! 'Tis called "It's My Time to Shine," and features "Music of the Night" from POTO as one of the tracks. On that site, you can hear previews of the first 10 tracks, as well. Enjoy!

Ooh, and Marni Raab would be an awesome choice for the next interview! We shall give it a shot. :D


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Old 08-31-2008 at 08:32 PM
sweet_intoxication
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Christine, I love you. ♪

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 Post [9] »


Thank you very much for the interview! It's really interesting! :D


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