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Old 03-13-2014 at 07:06 PM
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The New Touring Production  Post [1] »


As some of you may have heard, there's a new touring stage version of ALW's POTO. It started in the UK in 2012, headlined by John Owen-Jones as the Phantom, Katie Hall as Christine, and Simon Bailey as Raoul (all of whom were very popular in those roles when they starred in the original London production). John Owen-Jones was later replaced by Earl Carpenter, another extremely popular former London Phantom (who played the Auctioneer in the 25th anniversary concert).

In late 2013, the tour moved to the US and starred Mark Campbell as the Phantom, Julia Udine as Christine, and Ben Jacoby (son of Mark Jacoby, who had played the Phantom on Broadway and in the old US Tour) as Raoul. Campbell was later replaced by Cooper Grodin. None of them, nor anyone else in the cast, had been in a professional cast of POTO before, but from what I've heard audio-wise from them, they all sing the score quite well. The tour is still going on and continues to add stops in cities around the country.

This new tour is different from other POTO productions in that the sets, costumes, and direction are quite different -- most versions of the show around the world are called "replica productions" because they use the costumes designed by Maria Björnson and direction by Harold Prince that were created for the original show in London. This new version changes things up a lot, even with regard to character portrayals -- notably, the Phantom is played as much more violent than he usually is in the original version.

Has anyone seen this tour? If so, what did you think of it? I haven't seen the tour live, but watched a couple of videos of it in the UK and heard some audios from the different UK and US casts. (If anyone's curious about what was changed, I can include links to photos or video clips in a future post.)


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Old 08-23-2014 at 03:22 PM
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Well, I finally went to the 2:00 matinee performance in OKC yesterday and here's my (kind of long) review, sorted by sequence.
Prologue: Loved how they had the chandelier all wrapped up. And the wonderful feeling I got when they lifted the chandelier was just as awesome as the first time.
Hannibal: Piangi was funny. Instead of the "Piangi-can't-get-up-on-the-elephant-" gag, they had the "Piangi-can't-get-his-sword-out" gag.
Think of Me: Celia (U/S) has a wonderful voice.
Angel of Music: I focused more on the dancers than on Christine and Meg. Meg was literally bouncing with excitement, that was cute.
Little Lotte: I never seem to remember much about this part.
Title song: I loved how they took the staircase down. The whole rotating centerpiece was cool.
Music of the Night: Allan (U/S) has an amazing voice! When he put the blindfold on Christine, I almost started laughing! It seems kind of ridiculous. Phantom was pretty distant, didn't touch her a lot. (When he got to the line, 'Close your eyes', I thought, 'She doesn't have to, she can't see anything anyway.') Didn't see what made her faint. Nice that they had a real bed to lay her in.
STYDI: The Phantom playing his organ loudly always annoyed me. (If I had that playing and it woke me up, I'd yell, 'Hey, Phantom! Stop playing so loud! I'm trying to sleep!) I know that's not really what wakes her up, but it would wake me up. I miss the unmasking. It looked like he just had the mask off and she just randomly interrupted him doing whatever. He was a little rough with Christine, but not as bad as I thought it was going to be.
Magical Lasso: They changed the "great black hole" nose line to something like 'his eyes are as dark as' something. I've never heard that before.
Notes/Prima Donna: The only thing I can comment on is one of the managers (Andre or Firmin) had an ugly green coat on. Couldn't take my eyes off it.
PF, HMML: Piangi, you are so good at being the comic relief.
All I Ask Of You: This song wasn't too memorable. But I liked that they had Apollo's Lyre statue instead of the angel. Nice little nod to the book. Chandelier drop was so cool! (When is that not cool, though?)
M/WSS: Read Death. What have they done to Red Death?! It looked like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast just put on a crappy gold mask and wandered into POTO. Loved how Phantom got a little rough with Andre. You go, Phantom! Show him who really runs this place!
Notes 2/TEW: Again, not particularly memorable, except for I loved that Christine was a little feistier with Raoul. I don't remember ever hearing her say in any other version: "Raoul, I thought you wanted to protect me! Leave me alone!"
Wishing: They changed a lot of the lyrics, so a bunch of the lines started with. '3 long years'. I miss the red scarf. Still a pretty dress; I want one of my own.
Wandering Child: They made the Phantom a bit wimpish, probably to make Raoul look like more of a hero. Raoul pins the Phantom to the wall? Starting to remind me of the swordfight in the movie. Also liked Christine's 'startle-jump' when the Phantom touched her back.
PONR: Definetly very sexy. Tangoing Don Juan and Aminta was funny. Also when Christine started dancing on the table, I almost started laughing again. We were sitting so far back when she pulled off the mask, I couldn't see the deformity clearly.
Final Lair: Just as moving and brought me to tears as it did the first time. When he threw her on the bed, I thought he was going to rape her for a second! Then I thought,' surely they wouldn't have Erik cross the one line he'd never cross just for this new tour!' I didn't see how he did the disappearance, he did it so fast.
Overall Phantom: I saw one of the understudies, Allan Snyder. He plays a good Phantom. A little rougher than I'm used to, but he has an amazing voice.
Overall Christine: Also saw the understudy, Celia Hottenstein. Loved that she was a bit more feisty than other Christines I've seen. Also a gorgeous voice.
Overall Raoul: Eric Ruiz, the understudy. He played Raoul a bit more heroic, but I enjoyed his voice, too.
Overall: Yes, it had it's flaws, but I would definetly see the musical a 3rd time if given the opportunity.



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Old 12-09-2014 at 12:08 AM
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MAJOR DETAILED SPOILERS HERE. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
I never got the chance to see the original live (only move and parts of 25th anniversary edition), but I did see this one with Cooper Gordin, Julia Udine, and Ben Jacoby.
Overature – I’ve heard that traditionally the chandelier rises, but I don’t remember it doing so.
Think of Me: I enjoyed Meg. She brought Christine out to the stage. I liked the acting for the most part – it’s the portrayals that bothered me…
Little Lotte: It almost seems like Raoul burst in on Christine, who was barely, barely changed in time. That bothers me because Raoul would not be inconsiderate. I blame that not on Jacoby, but on the directing, as I heard that this was supposed to foreshadow LND more. Fine, have LND, but leave POTO as a stand alone or you’re going to lose a bunch of viewers. All around cute scene, though. I thought that Jacoby played Raoul as loving, caring, etc. The staging was just altogether unfortunate.
POTO – Nice references to the book with the blindfold. I enjoyed that and the rotating stage. Gosh, it was so neat. I thought that singing was up to standard. I do miss Christine’s actual fainting scene, though, in front of the mirror bride. Instead she just sort of drifted off to sleep as he sang, which is, again, a reference to the goings on in the book. I guess I can’t complain.
IR/STYDI – Oh geez. ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY TAKE OUT THE UNMASKING. I repeat, ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY TAKE OUT THE UNMASKING. It even happens in the book! And the Phantom would not just take off his mask with her there. He’s washing his face when Christine steals a glance here, which I believe is to humanize him more (another goal of theirs that I read). He does pull her down by the hair and force her onto the ground.
Notes I/Prima Donna – nothing too different that I can remember.
Poor Fool – All good, all fine. I liked it. Chandelier crash was amazing, as expected.
AIAOY: Am I the only one who noticed Christine with her arms out, in a trance, at the EDGE OF THE STAGE?! / roof, might I add. I actually couldn’t figure it out at first, but then it made sense. It was a nice nod to the book, but completely out of character. She wouldn’t do that unless she knew she was going to be stuck with the Phantom forever. Think about it: she feels sympathy for him, and she loves Raoul. No way would she do that. This being said, Raoul sounded so horrified and so very concerned when he pulled her out of the trance…It was heartbreaking. AIAOY began with him on the ground a ways away from her, which I thought made sense considering what she’d considered doing. Almost as if she was too fragile to touch…That made sense. Julia’s portrayal of Christine annoyed me, though. She sounded as if she were pleading with him the entire time, as I’ll get to later. But I liked that Raoul actually sounded like he loved her.
Masquerade: Grand staircase gone. I was a little sad, but the mirrors replacing it were cool. Disappointed in the Red Death costume. It looked more like the movie’s version. Again another nod to them trying to humanize the Phantom.
Notes II/Twisted Every Way – They butchered TEW. Honestly. No one was listening to Christine, not even Raoul! It looked like she was talking to herself the entire time. And she slapped him. If anything made me mad, it was that. She would not slap him because she LOVES him, but they don’t seem to understand that, apparently. Another not to LND, another nod to bad staging. Also, there’s another short scene after Christine runs out and Raoul follows. Basically she tells Raoul to leave her alone and accuses him of not protecting her. I didn’t like this because yeah, he sort of goes against his word, but he explains that it might be the only way to free her. She loves him, and I don’t believe that she was entirely holding him responsible for her safety, not when she knows exactly what they’re up against (also, she isn’t supposed to be using him! Come on, director. Seriously.)

Don Juan Triumphant – I liked that everyone pointed at Christine as they’re singing at the end. It’s almost like it’s from Christine’s point of view, and it gives emphasis on her significance in this.
WYWSHE – Fabulous. Slight verse changes from “Passing bells and sculpted angels, cold and monumental” to something about three long years of silence and then some more. I didn’t catch it all, but I like both versions.
Wandering Child: They added the trio back in! I love hearing Raoul’s observations. Phantom was on the ground, but I liked the other way better because it worked more when Christine held her hand out towards him. Raoul does get a shot at him, though, and I did like that. Loved the fire.
PONR – My goodness, the choreography was weird here. Christine had a slit in her dress to reveal up her leg, which she eventually used to seduce the phantom and reveal his mask. Eh…No thank you. It’s too much for me. I mean, there were kids there! Nothing inappropriate, but I liked the other way much better.
Final lair: Ah. Here’s the famous bed scene. I loved that Christine ran to Raoul and looked like she was attempting to get him out, but the Phantom drug her and threw her onto the bed, leaning over her. I’m not going to lie: this worried me for a second. I don’t think that it was a good idea to put in, simply because kids go see this and while he just looked at her, nothing happened, it bothers me that I was even afraid of it. Christine did seem curled up into herself. I can’t say anything as of expressions because I was barely far back enough that I couldn’t see their faces clearly. Liked Christine’s acting here, good job Julia. Okay, except the staging at the end. She needed to look him in the eye and return the ring, not run it back in. Come on, that’s the beauty of the scene.
Overall, it was a lovely show, just a little darker and with a more violent Phantom. I’ve heard complaints about the chemistry between Julia and the boys, which I would sort of agree with. She didn’t seem like she loved either of them, but was scared of the Phantom and using Raoul as a protection. Yet she does save Raoul in the end, so I guess that should say something.
Overall, it was Christine's portrayal and the nods to Love Never Dies that bugged me (Raoul's still Raoul, it's just a nod or two, don't worry).
I think I was a bit overly harsh on this, but it really was a good show and I was on Cloud nine. Definitely worth seeing if you've seen it on Broadway, want to see a slightly different production, or can’t make it to Broadway.
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Old 02-15-2017 at 06:09 AM
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The North American tour of the new production is coming back to Vancouver in July... I missed it the first time since it seems so disappointing for phans but I figure I might as well give it a shot now that I have a second chance!

I don't like the changes they made based on everyone's comments and reviews but ahh well, I think I'll regret not seeing it more than seeing it and disliking it.

Now if only the original show could go back on tour :(
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Old 02-17-2017 at 01:38 AM
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Who plays Meg Giry? Is it someone new or one who has played her before?
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Old 02-17-2017 at 01:59 AM
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Emily Ramirez. I don't recognize her so I think she's new. From the looks of it, the cast is not the same as the first NA tour.
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Old 02-18-2017 at 07:47 PM
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Were there be any stage photos of the new touring production coming up on the internet anytime soon?
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Old 02-19-2017 at 10:09 AM
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Here's a link to the official page, which has some photos from the tour (and also links to the show's social media pages, which have quite a few photos themselves). Social media pages for the actors are also a great resource to check out.


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Old 02-19-2017 at 07:14 PM
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gah no photos yet but I bookmarked it and will check back later I want some new Meg stage photos..I think this girl is new I never heard of her before
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Old 07-24-2017 at 09:59 PM
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Finally saw the touring production last night. Went in with low expectations based on so many disappointed phan reviews, but honestly my mum and I loved it - and it was clear the audience did too. Lots of laughs, lots of gasps, and a standing ovation by the end. There were things I liked more and less in comparison to the original, but yeah, overall I was pleasantly surprised and extremely glad I decided to go.

Derrick Davis was the Phantom, Eva Tavares was Christine, and Jordan Craig was Raoul. Craig was a good Raoul, no complaints. Tavares was also a good Christine, and due to her small size (5'2") and young face it was easy to see her as a young Christine. Plus it was nice seeing a Vancouver girl play for her home city.

Davis, though, was the standout performer of the night. I can't think of how his performance could have been improved; it was perfect. He had such a rich voice that oozed of power when it had to, but was also able to be beautifully gentle and soft. He never hit a bad note or wavered; everything was spot on. He had a tall frame that only added to his imposing figure. And his acting was dynamic and honest, really using his entire body to portray the Phantom's feelings; all the emotions felt so raw. I like what he said in an interview, about the Final Lair scenes: "It's when the Phantom’s rage and persona becomes completely unbridled and unhinged. Every emotion—the anger, frustration, sadness, love, longing—all of it comes screaming out of his being." That's exactly what it felt like. My mum said he's her favourite Phantom so far, and I would place him first or tied for first on my own list.

This is gonna be really long; I wanted to get everything down while it was still fresh in my mind.

== SPOILERS BELOW FOR ACT ONE ==

Overture: The chandelier started on the ceiling already. I did miss seeing it come up from the stage and rise over the audience like in the original, but that might have been one of the results of the budget cuts. They still did have some nice effects though, like sparks and popping lights after the Lot 666 cloth was removed and it was slowly lowered over the audience.

Hannibal: Not really any changes to complain about, though the elephant here is 2D rather than the 3D version with the stage hands drinking wine inside. So Piangi's gag is him struggling to take his sword out rather than getting on the elephant. I did like how the actual conductor of the orchestra did a lot of acting as part of the show, interacting with the "stage director", not just here but also throughout the show.

Think of Me: Not much different here, though Christine doesn't have the scarf with her on the stage for most of it. Tavares sang a cadenza that was very similar to the movie version; not sure if this was her choice or part of the new show.

Angel of Music: Instead of the ballerinas practicing in the background, we see they are in the dressing room getting ready to practice and sharing a drink. In the programme it says they are in the "Corps de Ballet Dressing Room" so it looks like instead of having her own dressing room, Christine shares one with all the ballerinas.

Little Lotte: As mentioned by Lotte Potter above, I also noticed that they made it look like Raoul bursts in on her before she's completely changed. I'm not the biggest Raoul fan and always thought he was kind of unthoughtful so this didn't surprise me. For some of the song they were both of seated at the dressing room table - like they're just chatting about old times - and Raoul gets closer and closer to her as it goes on.

The Mirror (Angel of Music): Much bigger mirror in the dressing room. After Raoul comes into the dressing room to look for her, he stops and finds the rose he had brought her during Little Lotte on the ground, picks it up, and says one last "Christine?!" before POTO begins.

Phantom of the Opera: This was the first song I really realized how cool the rotating centrepiece was. Instead of walking on the catwalks, they took steps down the side of the centrepiece that popped out while they were singing, and disappeared back into it after they had passed. After reaching the bottom, they get on the gondola and centrepiece opens up down the middle to reveal the Phantom's lair. I did miss the candelabras rising out of the ground, and his lair was a lot more humble. Still lots of candles though, and it was nice there was an actual bed.

Music of the Night: Davis was superb. Again as mentioned by Lotte Potter already, a lot of the changes were more in line with the book - i.e. blindfolding and Christine kind of drifting off to sleep. It was nice to see these kinds of references to the book, but I do think I prefer the original. It's easier to see the wonder in Christine's face and her expressions when she's not blindfolded, and fainting at the sight of the Mirror Bride (which isn't in this version at all) makes more sense than just falling asleep while he's singing.

I remember/Stranger Than You Dreamt It: Okay, I know it was a very controversial decision having her not unmask him but rather catching his face by accident. What happens is that the Phantom takes the mask off to wash his face; Christine wakes up, notices the mask is about to give it back to him, and then sees his face. But honestly, I didn't mind this and maybe even preferred it. I always kind of thought it was a bit mean of her to unmask him in the original! In terms of believability, perhaps the Phantom didn't expect Christine to be awake yet, so he just let down his guard, or maybe he was just in the habit... anyways, it was really interesting to see Davis act as the Phantom removes his mask; he kind of has to take a moment to compose himself as the air hits his face, and he flinches as he touches the wet cloth to the disfigured side. Also I thought it was sweet that Christine would think of bringing him his mask. The rest of the scene is similar, with the Phantom being a bit more rough on Christine, but I think it just accentuates the differences between his masked and unmasked personas more.

Notes/Prima Donna: Notes was very similar, as always bringing in lots of laughs from the audience. Andre and Firmin overall were very comedic characters, I think made more so in this version than in the original. Prima Donna is also similar, but like in the movie, they have Carlotta change on stage to get ready for Il Muto.

Poor Fool He Makes Me Laugh: The opera part itself isn't much different other than a bit of different staging, but when Joseph Buquet is hung it's quite different. They angle the rotating stage so that the ballet was on the left, and we see behind the stage on the right at the same time. Buquet calls a rope down and gets distracted watching the ballet girls. A stagehand (who I recognized was the Phantom! My mum, who was a few rows behind me, did not notice) silently grabs the rope and with his back to the audience, begins fiddling with it. Then he strangles Buquet with the noose and what was really cool was they actually got Buquet lifted into the air and hung, rather than the dummy they sling over the stage in the original.

All I Ask of You: In the background was an statue of Apollo's Lyre, and they had fake snow falling on it. Before this song, it looked like Christine was contemplating suicide by spreading her arms, and stepping close to the edge of the stage/"roof". I didn't really feel like Christine would do that, but it certainly made how hopeless she felt clear. Then Raoul comes and snaps her out of it, and it's very clear how much he cares for her and how terrified he was she might do that. The song itself was lovely. At first Christine seems unsure, with most of the start spent with her back to him as he sang, but over the course of the song they grow closer and closer. I do feel like it was a bit one-sided, with Raoul clearly singing of love for her, and Christine singing more like she was asking for his protection (but I may be biased as a Team Erik person, and I feel the same way about the original production). The Phantom comes from behind the statue, which moved forward after they left, and again, Davis nailed the tortured, devastated Phantom as Raoul and Christine sang in the distance. The chandelier fall was great, lots of sparks and as I was in the centre of row 3 in the auditorium, it was almost right on top of me! It was maybe 1m out of reach for me when it got to the bottom.

== SPOILERS BELOW FOR ACT TWO ==

Masquerade: I missed the staircase, and the stage felt more cramped than grand and open like the original. But I did like the mirrors they had in the background and above the dancers. Costumes-wise they were much more standard and less flashy than in the original. Andre and Firmin had regular suits on and their masks were kind of like long bird beaks, so I missed the skeleton costume gag. But Christine's and Raoul's costumes were maintained, and both were given nice masks. The Phantom's costume was a lot like in the movie and I really missed the Red Death costume I love so much. Instead of throwing Don Juan, he passes it by hand, but he does assert control and is still menacing doing so. He also doesn't take Christine's ring around her neck (also I don't think it was a ring, it looked like a pendant); just threatens her from a distance. In terms of his exit, I was disappointed he didn't disappear into the floor like in the original; instead, when the flash of light comes out of the ground, he simply runs out back the way he came. Overall I found there was a lot more I missed than didn't.

Notes/Twisted Every Way: I didn't really notice (or remember) much different here, other than Christine being angrier at Raoul. She slaps him and cries out "You promised you'd protect me! Now leave me alone!" or something along those lines right before leaving. She was obviously very hurt and overwhelmed.

Don Juan Triumphant: This was a scene I felt they improved on compared to the original. When Piangi keeps messing up they cut out that guy that just bursts out laughing at him; I always thought that felt really awkward. When Madame Giry suggests to Carlotta that the composer might be watching, Carlotta looks up to the rafters and steps back quickly, as though worried a sandbag will fall on her, and signs a cross over herself. By the end of the singing, everyone is pointing at Christine, and Meg comes out from the shadows, looks sadly at Christine, and shakes her head before turning away. I think this all accentuated Christine feeling so alone and feeling blamed for the opera's problems.

Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again: There was a more humble grave for her father, a cross with a sculpted violin above the name Daae. The lyrics of this song were a bit different, with a few lines beginning with "Three long years". Also Christine didn't have her red scarf, but she was wearing a pendant that she held throughout the song (the same one as in Masquerade), before tearing it off with "no more silent tears", so I'm guessing the pendant had something to do with her father, which was quite touching.

Wandering Child: The Phantom comes out at ground level rather than above the gravesite. Raoul punches the Phantom to get Christine out of her trance, and I do think was a nod to the movie; personally I don't think the Phantom would ever let himself get punched but ahh well. Raoul also pins him to the wall. The Phantom doesn't fight back physically, but he does make a bunch of explosions happen where Raoul was standing (to replace the flare-shooting cane of the original), so that was kind of cool. At the very end after they've both left he makes a bunch of fire shoot up from the ground; I felt the heat from where I was sitting!

Point of No Return: Very sensual rendition overall, a bit more "adult" than in the original. They make the Phantom start the song wearing gloves, and it's when he takes the gloves off a bit into the song that makes Christine realize who he is. When Christine takes his mask off and the police start to surround him, he looked genuinely frightened rather than angry like in the original. He seemed extremely vulnerable. His deformity seemed more gruesome than in the original.

Final Lair: I can see how some people might have been uncomfortable with Christine on the bed and the Phantom leaning over her. I wasn't that bothered with it because I don't think the Phantom would ever actually do something to her, so I didn't feel she was in danger, but I can see how others feel differently for sure.

One thing they changed that I really, really liked was when Christine's singing angrily at the Phantom, she picks up his sheet music and crumples it and throws it on the ground. He frantically and madly scrambles around picking it up again; I thought it was powerfully symbolic of how he's losing her more and more every second. And at the end, when he sings "It's over now, the music of the night", he drops the music to the ground - symbolic of him finally letting her go - and stands a bit straighter as he focuses on the ring. She changed him for the better.

Speaking of the ring, they really changed how she returns it. Instead of the very personal moment of her handing it back to him as a final goodbye, she came in with Raoul and placed the ring on his table without him every noticing. She seemed to hesitate, but Raoul was there to hold her back and whisk her away. On the one hand, I can see what they were going for (emphasizing that if Raoul wasn't there, maybe she would actually find it hard to leave), but I felt really sad she wasn't able to give the ring back personally and he didn't even realize she had come back until he sings his last notes.

As for his escape, Meg actually comes in before he's left, with the police force right behind her, and he quickly slings a black cloak over himself. Meg grabs him from behind and a few seconds later, drops the cloak to reveal that he had disappeared.

Another notable moment was when Raoul had arrived and the Phantom was holding Christine by the neck and she was on the ground. He turned and noticed what he was doing to Christine and, horrified, he immediately let go. He looked so genuinely terrified of what he'd just done, like he didn't recognize himself. Ramin did a little bit of this in the 25th anniversary show but not to the extent as in this one, and I think it was a worthwhile thing to show.

Regardless of all the changes, my mum and I still had tears in my eyes by the end!
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