Tag Archives: Raoul

The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary

Wow, am I exhausted!  I got up at 7am this morning, and it’s been POTO25 ever since.  Here in San Francisco, the simulcast of The Phantom of the Opera Live from the Royal Albert Hall began at 11am.  We drove down early, ate breakfast nearby, and then got to the cinema for choice seats.  I’m sure nobody wants to hear what I had for breakfast, so I’ll cut right to the good stuff.  Our cinema had a 255 seat capacity (trust me, I looked) and there were probably about 60 of us in attendance.

Overall, the quality of the broadcast was excellent.  There were probably four cameras doing the coverage, and the only one I didn’t like was the one at stage level, literally along the footlights.  Every time they switched over to that camera, it made me a little seasick.  This was due to the angle and the lens distortion.  The set was gorgeous, with the orchestra above the main platform and sometimes covered by a scrim.  There were four panels at the back of the main stage that had different backdrops projected.  Now, I don’t know the proper terminology for this, but the little colored light circles making up these projections didn’t react very well to certain camera angles and movements.  It was very hard on the eye, and I hope it’s something they can fix digitally for the DVD release.  I imagine it was fine for the live audience at the Royal Albert Hall.  My favorite use of these panels was during Christine’s bows after her first big solo.  She turned her back to the actual audience, and the panels were used like mirrors to reflect the audience applauding.  Then the front stage became backstage at the opera house.

The big surprise and delight for me was Sierra Boggess.  I’ve never seen her perform before, and she was truly lovely.  The camera adores her, and she performed beautifully.  I can’t actually be objective about Ramin Karimloo (The Phantom) and Hadley Fraser (Raoul) because I’m such a big fan of both of them already.  Sadly, makeup for the stage isn’t subtle enough for filmed closeups, and Karimloo’s prosthetics, mask, and two microphones (forehead and cheek) were, well, not subtle.  In spite of this, Karimloo broke my heart at the end when he let Christine go.  Fraser cleaned up nicely as Raoul, and I thought he struck the right balance between gentle lover and arrogant aristocrat.  I thought everybody did a great job, and I enjoyed finding familiar faces in the ensemble from the Les Misérables 25th Anniversary Concert last year.

The finale was pretty spectacular, and these folks came out: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cameron Mackintosh, the surviving creative team from the original production, the creative team for the RAH production,  the original London cast including Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman, and four other Phantom actors.  These were Colm Wilkinson, John Owen-Jones, Anthony Warlow and Peter Jöback.  Sarah Brightman sang with the four phantoms with Ramin Karimloo joining them at the end.  It’s a shame that the Phantom makeup takes too long to take off, because it would have been great to see Karimloo’s real face for the finale.  Andrew Lloyd Webber made a short speech, and he was pretty cute when he asked the audience to sit down in case he went on too long.  After the encores, during the final bows, sparklers went off around the Hall while confetti and streamers dropped from above.  I was sorry to see it end, but at least we’ll have the DVD release.  There was a slide advertising the DVD before the simulcast began, but it didn’t give a US release date, just “coming soon.”

One of the real pleasures of the day was chatting with other members of the audience.  One nice woman brought her young son who enjoys performing in musicals.  Who knows, one day we may be seeing him as the Phantom!  He was happy to pose for a photograph with the cinema poster.

The Next Phantom?

The Next Phantom? A young moviegoer in San Bruno

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Hadley Fraser and Some Random Stuff

Rumors are spreading that West End performer (and Ugly Bug Ball favorite) Hadley Fraser will play Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall, joining his good friend Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom.  There has been no official confirmation.  Fraser seems to be avoiding twitter, and Karimloo is teasing his followers without revealing anything.  Fraser has been hinting at a big announcement coming up, so perhaps this is what he meant.  Where did the rumor begin?  I don’t know, but Amazon’s UK site lists Fraser as Raoul on the pre-order page for the CD.  Maybe this is an error, hardly the first one at Amazon, but I hope it’s not.  I’m very impatient to know either way, because the tickets at my local cinema go on sale in a day or two.  If Fraser plays Raoul, I will definitely go to the live broadcast, since I would pay to see this guy read (or sing) the phone book.

Fraser is talented and funny, and I’ve enjoyed following his career this year.  It’s given me plenty to blog about.   Wordpress gives me really detailed stats on my visitors, and I have Fraser to thank for much of my traffic.   Sometimes it feels kind of voyeuristic to know exactly what folks have typed into a search engine when they click over to my blog.   It gets pretty bizarre!   Because I have “ugly” in my blog title, people will land here because they are using the search term “ugly” with another name or word.   When I blogged about the royal wedding, I had a lot of visitors who were searching for ugly hats and ugly princesses.  Nobody has searched for “Hadley Fraser ugly” (I’d punch them if they did), but it’s obvious that a lot of people want to know more about his personal life and his relationship status.  Well, that information isn’t here, since I prefer to discuss his work, but this interview will be of interest.

I like to think that blogging about performers like Fraser and Karimloo benefit their careers in some small way.  It may be boasting, but some of the news and links here are more current than on Fraser’s own website.  He’s got a great site, but I suspect he’s too busy to update it often.  Anyway, I’m happy to help spread the word about my favorites.  Do casting directors and producers take note when a performer they’re considering for a role has thousands of followers on twitter and facebook, not to mention blogs devoted to their every move?  Since I blog mostly for my own enjoyment, it doesn’t make a big difference to me personally, but I’d still love to know.

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I was at an improv show recently where the audience was asked, what’s your personal motto?  I have a few.  One is “Sit when you can, stand when you must.”  This comes from years of working on my feet.  Another one is “I get there in the end.”  This one is really just a rationalization for how much I procrastinate, especially when it comes to doing laundry.  Here is the motto I have the most difficulty following: “You’re more likely to find happiness in the center of your own life than around the edges of somebody else.”

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I’ve been re-watching due South, one of my favorite series, and I’m sure a longer post about the show is coming soon.  I noticed in the pilot that a stuntman driving a dog sled was a poor match for lead actor Paul Gross.  It made me think about dangerous stunts and the many times I’ve read or heard “the actors do most of their own stunts.”  I have nothing against using stuntmen.  In fact, I’m all for them.  I never want an actor or anybody else to take terrible risks just for my entertainment.  The safety of those involved is the best reason for using for digital special effects.

Speaking of digital effects, I have started to hate how artificially heightened everything looks in films lately.  Even the grass and trees look unreal in I Am Number Four.   When I watched Unstoppable on DVD, the yellow and red trains were so intensely colored, it was like a cartoon.  It was jarring in an otherwise gritty, realistic movie based on a true incident.

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The websites that I visit frequently are really getting annoying.  IMDb has so many ads and unnecessary videos to load, I can’t get quickly to the pages I need.  Zap2it has so many pop-ups, videos and ads, I feel dread in the pit of my stomach when I visit the site.  My earthlink email was freezing up every time a sidebar ad refreshed, so now I’m actually paying an extra dollar a month to NOT SEE ads in my inbox.  How insane is that?

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