This is us, in our seats to see the Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theater in London this afternoon. You know you're jealous.
It was a bit of a crazy day since we got tickets at last minute and raced into London for the show (we made it with about five minutes to spare). Lee had never been to the theater (or should I say theatRE since we're in the UK?) before, and the last time I saw Phantom was when I was 14 (I won't say how many years ago that was) so we were both pretty excited to be there. The theater isn't very big, I think my high school auditorium might seat more people, but it had three levels and was nice-looking despite having some kind of cramped seating.
Mom took us all to see Phantom in Dallas like I said, many moons ago, and before we went she bought a CD of Highlights from Phantom of the Opera (I think this is the one I have) and had us all listen to it so we'd be familiar with the music and stuff before we went to see the show. Eventually she had to buy two more copies of the CD because Adam and I kept stealing hers ; ) So that recording has been in my musical library for, um, significantly longer than I've known my totally awesome, spectacular, fantabulous, extraordinary, and handsome husband (why yes, he *is* reading over my shoulder), and therefore it's pretty much what I will compare any Phantom production to. So today I'm expanding my repertoire to theater critiques, heh. This will make more sense if you've seen the musical (or the 2005 movie, I'm not picky...think I'll have to watch that one again sometime soon).
The sets were well done and the costumes were fantastic, especially for the masquerade scene. I about went crazy trying to take in all the pretty costumes during the masquerade: Carlotta the soprano had a cool spiderweb kind of dress, the theater owners had cool skeleton costumes, one of the extras had this pretty peacock outfit, and Christine's masquerade dress was a confection. Very cool. However, the chandelier falling didn't seem quite as climactic as I remember it being. The orchestra was good as well, overwhelming the singers only once or twice, but the conductor ran through the first half of the Entr'acte with the speed of a freight train which annoyed me. Other than that, I highly enjoyed the music.
Supporting characters: I totally loved the people who played the two new owners of the opera house, Monsieurs Firmin and Andre, as well as Madame Giry, the choreographer of the ballet corps. (You can see the cast list of the production we saw here.) All three of them had some pretty funny bits, I love the song where they're all exchanging the notes that the Phantom has left for them. Carlotta, the older soprano whose spotlight Christine steals, was also terribly funny.
Raoul: He kind of looked like Kenneth Brannagh, which isn't a bad thing...I liked him well enough. Having listened to my Phantom recording for so many years though, I really notice when performers do something different than my CD, and this Raoul seemed a little more forceful than the one I'm used to.
Christine: I liked her quite a bit. She's got a powerful voice which I loved in "Think of Me" and the duet with Raoul, "All I Ask of You". She also spoke with a little bit of an accent, which I suppose makes sense because her character is from a Swedish family. Christine and all the ballet girls had these wigs (I assume they're wigs) that were all curled in ringlets; I liked those. I always wanted ringlets but I got messy waves. Whatever.
The Phantom: I liked him, with one exception: "The Music of the Night". I looooooooooooooove that song, and the way that it was performed today seemed too overtly theatrical and harsh, not nearly as lyrical and sensuous as I think it should be. After all, this is the song the Phantom uses to try to woo Christine into loving him. That said, the Phantom was most excellent when he lost his marbles a bit further on in the production. When Christine and Raoul are singing "All I Ask of You" on the roof of the opera house, the Phantom spies on them from a floating bit of scenery suspended from the ceiling and sings a whole song while it's moving, which was pretty cool. And his makeup when his mask is torn off was very well-done too.
Totally had a ball at the theater today. We were surprised how crowded it was for a show on a Tuesday afternoon, but I suppose the theater has to do pretty well for itself if it has shows on Tuesday afternoon ; ) I think we'll check to see what productions are going on when everyone comes out here for Thanksgiving, that might be an option for something we can do together. There are several other theaters in the same area as the one we went to today so there should be no shortage of shows from which to choose. After the show, we walked a couple blocks to the National Gallery and looked at some paintings, and then had dinner at the Texas Embassy where we both had Mexican food ('cause nothing says Texas like Mexican food). They had a bunch of Texas license plates up on the walls, including one that had Baylor's logo on it right over the door...think we might have to take our fellow Bears Missy and Bennet there : )