Tag Archives: Sierra Boggess

Something Phantastic This Way Comes

This past year, I’ve had a number of guest bloggers contribute to The Ugly Bug Ball.  It’s fun for me to let others do the work!  Here’s a review of Love Never Dies from my friend Dragonfly (aka Nelia).

“Try to deny it

And try to protest

But love won’t let you go

Once you’ve been possessed”

First, may I say that the direct feed of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies to cinemas was simply STUNNING! It was fun and exciting to share this special event with a dozen friends in Denver.  I trust that my review can be fair and objective as I also had the opportunity to see the original London production several times, as well as viewing this filmed version of the Melbourne production twice.

I was personally fascinated by the grainy film clips in the video introducing “The Coney Island Waltz” for the 2009 London press release.  Between Ramin Karimloo’s poignant “Till I Hear You Sing” video and the Waltz, I was immediately hooked on the show’s premise.  The draw was so powerful; I simply had to go the London to see this production with Ramin and to meet him.  I adored seeing Love Never Dies and have been a loyal supporter of the production and cast since it was introduced.

The London production of Love Never Dies gave me the impression that the sparsely furnished and populated sets had “tour” in mind.  Lots of digital projections lent an air of shadowy nostalgia with the funky, vintage Coney Island film footage.  Overall, my memory of seeing LND is essentially grey tones, muted colors and some bright metallic elements.  Perhaps if the Australian production’s imaginative and colorful stage/costume design had been introduced in London, the show would still be successfully running at the Adelphi, and perhaps on Broadway.

The Carousel (Australia)

Carousel in The Coney Island Waltz (Australia)

A vibrant, beautifully crafted and edited film,  Love Never Dies has a good balance of close-ups and long shots; the Felini-esque result doesn’t look or feel like a stage production, but somehow more expansive than the physical limitations a theatrical stage would impose.  This LIVE performance (not dubbed) was filmed over four days, and includes some minimal audience response.  The original cast score, which was recorded a year before the London opening, is beautiful, brilliant, and sophisticated.  It’s a magical, musical rollercoaster ride of intrigue, passion, kidnapping, mystery, and secrets revealed.

The Coney Island Waltz (Australia)

The Coney Island Waltz (Australia)

The basic plot remains essentially the same as the original London production, with a few important changes.  I really liked the new opening scenes:  Phantom performs “Till I Hear You Sing” in the Prologue; then the story opens with “The Coney Island Waltz” in present time, which I think provides a positive and energetic momentum, allowing the story to unfold seamlessly, rather than having London’s essentially depressing, bleak look-back on what had been—before the tragedy…

It would be difficult to discuss all of the wonderful scenes here, so I’ve selected one, from both productions, that stands out:  “The Beauty Underneath.”

The Beauty Underneath

The Beauty Underneath (Australia)

Australia:  A beautiful and fascinating, complex forest of structural elements, and tall glass cases containing a variety of living creatures from a mermaid, to freaks and oddities of all sorts.  I especially liked having a stage full of ensemble players, which lent a frenetic energy and dynamic to the scene as a whole.

The Beauty Underneath (London)

The Beauty Underneath (London)

London:  The Aerie, Phantom’s workshop high above Phantasma, featured many of his bizarre magical, mechanical, and artistic creations.  Phantom and Gustave are essentially alone on stage for much of this scene.

THE PLAYERS

Ben Lewis (Australia) has a trained operatic voice; he’s not a copy of Ramin, but stands firm on his own merit.  Ben’s delivery is technically precise, he’s an intense, anguished, mysterious, menacing, and remote Phantom – reminds me a bit of Gary Oldman’s strangely sensual Dracula when gliding around in his elegant full length robe.

In this filmed version, we don’t get much of a look at Phantom’s disfigurement, which is disappointing, especially after all the time and energy spent in creating and applying the make-up and complicated prosthetics.  We want to see what all the fuss is about…

Anna O'Byrne and Ben Lewis in the Australia production

Anna O'Byrne and Ben Lewis (Australia)

Ramin Karimloo’s unique voice is unequaled in its straightforward, energetic raw and sensual passion, untrained rock delivery, and uninhibited honesty resonating on a primal level right into my heart…

Anna O’Byrne (Australia) and Sierra Boggess (London) are equally excellent as Christine.  Each is classically trained, beautiful, feminine, and comfortable in the trappings of the Victorian era costumes and hairdos.

Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo (London)

Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo (London)

Sharon Millerchip (Australia) is a perky, petite, energetic, talented dancer and singer with a broad emotional range, and perfectly cast as Meg Giry, Ooh La La Girl.

Sharon Millerchip as Meg (Australia)

Sharon Millerchip as Meg and the Ooh La La Girls in Only For You (Australia)

I’m passionate about film; I enjoy comfortable stadium seating and the magic of an image flickering on the silver screen in the dark.  Being on the less than tall side, I’m generally plagued with a “HEAD” obscuring view of the stage, especially when I’ve spent $100 for a theatre ticket.  I believe that digital technology has now opened up a new avenue, offering an unequaled opportunity to experience stage productions and other special events via live feed and edited film, and it’s definitely here to stay.  I’ll line up early and often to enjoy an unobstructed view for under $20.

Australia’s Love Never Dies run is coming to a close; we’re so fortunate that a record of this amazing production has been captured, and that we can own a piece of it via this filmed version.  I think the possibility of a Broadway run at this point is remote—the success of the DVD could change that outcome.

I’m in LOVE with LOVE on stage and screen….

Thank you, Dragonfly!  Your passion certainly comes through here.  Love Never Dies has its US DVD release on May 29, 2012.

All the images used here are from press sources.  The Australian production photos were taken by Jeff Busby.  No copyright infringement is intended.

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Hello, New Fans!

Right now, The Phantom of The Opera at the Royal Albert Hall is airing on my PBS station.  It’s a pledge break, so I’m using the time to say hello to all the American fans who are just discovering Ramin Karimloo (Rah-MEEN CARE-em-loo), Hadley Fraser, and the lovely Sierra Boggess (bah-GUESS) tonight.  I can tell from the sudden upsurge in my visitor stats that lots of folks are searching for information about these talented actors.  You’re going to find entire tumblr sites devoted to Ramin Karimloo and Hadley Fraser. These two have an avid fan base!  The best way to zero in on these actors here is to visit my “west end index” page (above).  This is because I bounce around between many topics, so if you’re not interested in book reviews, old TV westerns or farm animals, don’t despair.

Lots of people this weekend are searching for the answer to this question: why didn’t Michael Crawford sing during the encore?  The most common answer I read during the days following the live broadcast was that he was too emotional and overwhelmed by the audience’s response.  I also read that he was saving his voice, since he was appearing in another West End musical.  I honestly don’t know if either of these are correct.  I do know that many people were disappointed.

By the way, Hadley Fraser is one of my favorite performers on twitter.  The day the Phantom DVD was released in the US, he tweeted his apology for Raoul’s “guyliner.”  I love his self-deprecating sense of humor.  On my small, crappy television, the guyliner isn’t so bad, but so many of the wonderful production details are lost, especially with the costumes.  I’m so glad I went to see it at the cinema in October.

So, thanks for visiting The Ugly Bug Ball, and be sure to say hello.  Please leave a comment!

Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo, The Phantom of the Opera, The Music of Night

Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo

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Phantom of the Opera 25: The DVD

The DVD version of The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary at the Royal Albert Hall was released this week, but not in the United States.  We have to wait until February 7th, which I’ve already ranted about.  I recruited two UK friends who’ve guest blogged here already to help me out once again.  Here they share their impressions of the new DVD.

Scolytinae:

My hubby and I were unable to make the trip to the Royal Albert Hall to experience The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary in person, so the next best thing was to go to our local cinema and be a part of the worldwide live broadcast on 2 October 2011. It was quite something to sit there and think that friends were sitting thousands of miles away, at a different time of day, doing exactly the same thing!

Obviously you miss the buzz of excitement and anticipation as the auditorium fills and the orchestra begins to tune up—people arriving juggling buckets of popcorn and giant hot dogs doesn’t  have quite the same atmosphere! However, when the lights dimmed and the show started, we were all quickly transported to the world of the Opera Populaire.

Having never seen the show before, I can honestly say it was a wonderful experience. I have no point of reference, but I thought Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess and Hadley Fraser were absolutely stunning and, considering the tight time frame everyone was working to, the whole show was an amazing spectacle and if anything major went wrong, I didn’t notice!

The only minor criticism was that on occasions, the music seemed far too loud and we lost some of the lyrics, but we put that down to the cinema sound system and hoped it would be an issue that was easily rectified on the DVD.  Strangely, the very clever digital backdrops didn’t come across on camera too well either, becoming pixelated at times and drawing the eye. Other than that, we got to see the performance in all its glory, with just a couple of things which were always going to be destined for the cutting room floor: Hadley backing into a table and the Phantom’s “switch on” candle!

It was a long wait, but the DVD finally dropped through the letterbox on 14th November, and we both settled down for another evening with the Phantom.  Happy to report the sound problems have been fixed, and it was a delight to hear everything. The editing is good, and the use of multiple angles actually adds to some scenes, bringing your attention to some action that you may have missed before and allowing a much better shot of that candle lighting incident.  (It looks good now, and the table incident has been omitted entirely!) It was also nice to have periodic shots of the fabulous orchestra too. Sadly, those digital backdrop panels still didn’t come across at their best, although they were improved.

An interesting and informative behind-the-scenes style documentary was included as a bonus feature. It was nice to hear from the technical side of the production team for a change, outlining the logistical problems of mounting a full stage production in a concert hall, and watching the talented make up artist at work.

Not having seen the show live, the DVD is, for me at least, a much improved version of the cinematic experience. It is a beautiful record of a truly extraordinary theatrical event, and should definitely be a part of every musical theatre lover’s collection.

*   *   *   *

Helsbrownie, who attended the live performance at the Royal Albert Hall, shared her reactions via twitter as she watched the DVD for the first time.  Click twice to read version with bigger print.

Thank you, Scolytinae and Helsbrownie!  Now we’ll be counting down the days until we can get our hands on the US version of the Phantom DVD.

Some folks might not be aware that the UK version has a region coding that makes it impossible to play on a US player.  Region-free DVD players can play all or most DVDs, and some new computers will allow you to reset the region coding but only a few times.  For example, my new laptop allows me five resets.  The risk is losing track and ending up with a DVD drive that won’t play anything else you own or rent.

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POTO25: Curtain Call and Encores

 

Curtain call with Hadley Fraser, Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess
Curtain call with Hadley Fraser, Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh
John Owen-Jones, Sarah Brightman, Colm Wilkinson and Peter Jöback
John Owen-Jones, Sarah Brightman, Colm Wilkinson and Peter Jöback
Ramin Karimloo, Sarah Brightman, Colm Wilkinson and Peter Jöback
Ramin Karimloo, Sarah Brightman, Colm Wilkinson and Peter Jöback
Colm Wilkinson and Peter Jöback
Colm Wilkinson and Peter Jöback
Ramin Karimloo, Colm Wilkinson and Peter Jöback
Ramin Karimloo, Colm Wilkinson and Peter Jöback
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Michael Crawford
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Michael Crawford
Michael Crawford and Ramin Karimloo shake hands
Michael Crawford and Ramin Karimloo shake hands
Crawford, Boggess, Karimloo, Warlow, Wilkinson, & Joback
Crawford, Boggess, Karimloo, Warlow, Wilkinson, & Jöback

Confetti finale

These are from the finale at the Royal Albert Hall, celebrating 25 years of The Phantom of the Opera.

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