November 14, 2011
I was lucky enough to go along to the Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary concert last month, where I was romanced all over again by one of my earliest favourite musicals. Whether you’re largely pro- or anti-Lloyd Webber, you can’t deny the brilliance of the piece as a whole. Its (allegedly filched) arias and duets soar with gothic romance, its dashing goodie and twisted baddie are almost equally fanciable, Christine wears some stonking lingerie – in the movie version, at least – and don’t even get me started on the mist, gondolas and rogue chandeliers. The DVD of the Royal Albert Hall concert that marked the show’s quarter-century is released today and, WEG that I am, I’ve already bought my copy.
The 25th anniversary was as opulent and gaudy as the Opera Populaire should be – see my review here – although it lost a little of its haunting, wistful quality with all the projections and pyrotechnics. Still, it was worth any amount of Vegas-style pomp to see the chemistry explosion that is Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess. Their voices were endlessly impressive, their performances intense and dedicated – this was the Ramin and Sierra show. I’d still rather see the Christine and Phantom show, but you can catch that at Her Majesty’s six nights a week. Incidentally, Karimloo is set to don his convict’s beard and move to Les Mis, and I’ll certainly be booking. Is he too hot to age 20 years and die over the course of an evening? Only time will tell, but he’ll certainly sing the roof off while attempting it.
If you love the music of Phantom, you’ll want to see this daring, fully-staged version. The four tenors’ version of The Music of the Night (featuring Colm Wilkinson, Anthony Warlow, John Owen-Jones and Peter Jöback) at the end was also gorgeous – although you’ll have to grit your teeth through Sarah Brightman’s part-hilarious, part-disturbing appearance. It was sort of Mariah Carey meets Bride of Chucky, via that Whitney Houston appearance on the X Factor. And all with that same 80s hair.
Anyway, some fabulous performances and a sumptuous budget make a fitting celebration of Phantom, and while I don’t think they quite topped the Les Misérables 25th anniversary in terms of emotion and tribute, they certainly had a better casting team. Still shuddering at the thought of Jonas. Enjoy the DVD and let me know your thoughts!
December 29, 2010
To celebrate the festive period, WEG has prepared a little theatre quiz for you – yes, it’s time to get your geek on. And no Googling!
1. What are the names of the three operas performed by the company in The Phantom of the Opera?
2. In Legally Blonde, name two of the reasons which make Callaghan’s legal team wonder if the witness is gay or European?
3. Which of the following was not on Broadway this year?
a) Next to Normal
b) The Scottsboro Boys
c) Little Women
d) Promises, Promises
4) What is the longest-running show currently in the West End?
5) Which show had previously held that title?
6) What do Wicked’s Louise Dearman, Spring Awakening’s Lucy May Barker and Avenue Q’s Paul Spicer have in common?
7) Which main cast member of the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary concert at the O2 was a last-minute replacement?
8 ) Which is the oldest surviving West End theatre and which show is it now home to?
9) Name the theatrical aunt of actresses Summer and Scarlett Strallen.
10) Which iconic theatre role did the mother of pop star Eliza Doolittle create?
11) Which of the following musicals has not spawned a reality TV casting show?
a) The Wizard of Oz
b) Legally Blonde
d) Mary Poppins
12) Which show did Wicked’s Alexia Khadime appear in before going green?
13) Name the two Broadway legends that Glee’s Rachel Berry thought might be her biological mother?
14) Which British TV actress went for the part of Baby in Dirty Dancing: the musical, but narrowly missed out?
15) Which of the following actresses was not considered for the lead role in the movie version of Evita, snapped up by Madonna?
a) Meryl Streep
b) Bette Midler
c) Michelle Pfeiffer
d) Olivia Newton-John
Answers to follow. Have a very geeky New Year!