Gasp! A review!
Performance: Phantom of the Opera World Tour, Singapore
Date: August 17, 2013
Cast: shown here
First off, I’m really glad I saw Phantom again. I never thought I would, so there is a profound appreciation for this cast, no matter what I say about them. Also, this probably sounds a little fragmented. Sorry.
Brad Little as the Phantom
I don’t quite understand what is going on with Brad’s voice. He sounds fine in the high-volume and belty notes, although sometimes bordering on pitchy, but when he needs to sing softly, it comes out strained, as if he had sore throat. It was just cringe-worthy. The AIAOY Reprise was supposed to be a scene that pulls your heartstrings, but because of his voice, the moment was just ruined.
I don’t know if it’s intentional, but the strained voice also prematurely gives the Phantom the image of a deformed man. For audiences whose first time it is to see POTO, they would already have a hunch that there was something not right about him because of his voice. In a way, it becomes a mirror to his true self, another form of unmasking. This is the only reason I can find to stop myself from cringing every time Brad sings.
On his acting, he’s very jumpy. He didn’t twitch or anything, but he stomped his feet a lot like he was having a tantrum, and that’s quite an image for someone as tall as Brad. When Raoul appears behind the portcullis, he looks really glad, as if he was just given a new toy. Brad’s portrayal very much leaned toward the child Phantom.
Claire Lyon as Christine
Claire is always so lively and expressive. In Il Muto as the page boy, she’s energetic and an utter delight to watch. In Twisted, she‘s utterly devastated. There’s a line in WYWSHA where she says “Her father promised her”, and she says it with a little, almost imperceptible trace of contempt, as if she was questioning or accusing her father. He promised her, but it didn’t turn out like he said really. It sounds like how a child would turn to her father.
From Claire’s performance, you get the impression that she’s really terrified of the Phantom. She looked truly terrified in the rooftop scenes, and if in some portrayals, it feels like an exaggeration, Claire does really well with the build-up that it becomes believable. When the Phantom suddenly speaks during their act, her “it’s him, I know.” is brimming with anxiety, and then when the managers announce that she will play the role of Countess, she lets out this desperate cry of “No!”, to which Raoul says, “Don’t worry. I’m here.” *insert keysmashing here* so cute. Later in PONR, she’s extremely playful with the Phantom because she discovers his identity late, but when she finally does, she can barely continue the role.
She looks spectacular when she’s dancing, especially in Masquerade. It’s obvious that she and Ant have had considerable dance training. You can see it with how she extends her arms and legs and how her hands are positioned. She’s very graceful especially when she does that twirl that sends her Star Princess skirt swinging. Ant would always be waiting at the right position, be it at her side or behind her. It’s clear that they’ve been doing this for a while.
Anthony Downing as Raoul
Ant really has great command on stage. When he shows up, you know who’s in charge, apart from with Christine, of course. Next to Christine, he becomes a very solid presence that she can cling to, and it goes well with Claire’s portrayal of a very distraught Christine. Every time, he goes on stage, especially when he’s commanding people, he just becomes very magnetic, but not gratingly demanding. In fact, he’s almost calm when he’s ordering the guards. When the guard in the pit asks him on how he’ll know that the time is right, his “You’ll know” in response even felt reassuring.
Also, when he accosts Madame Giry right after Masquerade and Giry tells him that the Phantom was deformed from birth, he goes, “My God. Christine!” To him, it is and will always be about Christine. Everything is for her sake; there’s no ego there at all, and I just love that. All in all, he’s a great combination of the authoritative and the tender Raoul.
Though I really do love Ant, he has this habit of spreading his arms like one does when saying “here”. He does it in AIAOY, and does it in Notes II. Sometimes it feels like he’s interpreting at every line, and it looks like a step-by-step thing instead of being spontaneous. But then it could be me. I suppose having been exposed to more Phantom material, I’d want more nuance.
Even so, his characterization for Raoul really fits the bill. When Christine kisses the Phantom in the Final Lair, he turns away and looks utterly hurt and hopeless. He doesn’t want to see them kiss; he can’t.
Rouel Beukes and Jason Ralph as Firmin and Andre
Rouel and Jason both have good and strong voices. Their interactions feel natural and the chemistry doesn’t feel forced, a very lively Firmin and Andre. They didn’t seem to be pulling the drunk factor.
Andrea Creighton as Carlotta
I never really paid attention to Carlotta but I guess she’s okay. There were moments that her voice shook, but apart from that, she wasn’t particularly insulting.
Tina Walsh, Thabiso Masemene and Eleanor Waite as Madame Giry, Piangi and Meg
I wish I could say something for them but I can’t. Sorry.
Damn, this ensemble is fine. Very strong vocally, and the acting isn’t bad either. I love it when you can see the dancers slowly being petrified in Il Muto. Gradually, their dancing becomes out of sync, they notice the shadow in the backdrop, get rattled, and then recover. You really get that they’re professionals, the characters themselves and not just the actors.
I just wish that the lighting when Red Death appears is better. If I wasn’t expecting him to appear on top of the staircase, I wouldn’t have looked in his direction at all. The screaming simply started and I bet even the audience was confused on what was actually happening. When Brad moved, that’s when I saw him. I suppose it’s also the staging’s fault, what with the stairs veering to the right instead of front and center. I understand because *tour reasons* but I still wish they could have compensated by finding a way to guide the viewers’ eyes to the top of the staircase.
Right before Notes II, when the principals were looking over the Don Juan score, we see Christine showing Raoul her own copy of the score. It’s as if she’s saying “Dear, this is the part I’ll play. Isn’t it disturbing?” In the background, a piece of paper falls from Madame Giry’s copy and she picks it up. She somehow disappears off stage and reappears later to announce that there’s a new note. This is probably how it’s originally done, but I only noticed it now so I’m putting it here. :)
Raoul has black gloves in the outdoor scene in Wandering Child. The realism pleases me greatly.
Down Once More had me pleasantly surprised. They had the Phantom and Christine back in the gondola and row to the lair with Christine still in the Aminta dress. It’s a fine throwback to their first journey in the lair and how much things have changed. Their route went from the back of the stage, to center stage, then down to stage right. They disappear as the Phantom yells, “Christine, why?” The whole thing took less than a minute, but it was nice to see the fog and rising candelabras again (though the fog could just have been a projection).