laurence connor

Phantom of the Opera Restaged National Tour Review

Here it is folks, my complete review of the “new” re-staged US national tour.  Below the cut you’re going to find a scene-by-scene review as well as overall impressions, observations, and opinions regarding this new staging.  My old school phan cohort, @inkedalchemy​ attended this performance with me and we were honestly trying to stay as open minded and neutral as possible regarding a new look to the classic show.  In general, there were things that we liked, and could see worked into the original production.  We also saw things we did not care for at all.  But despite that, we’ve compiled a thorough review for you all to read and consider.

But before I get started, I will emphasize the fact that this is NOT a game of “WTF do you know,” nor do I wish to start another internet flame fest between those who prefer the new tour and those who prefer the original production.  Let’s all be adults, let’s all be civil, let’s all respect each others’ opinions.  Those who felt I was unfairly judging the new tour before told me I could not have an opinion on it without seeing it in person…well, I went and paid money and did that.  While there were aspects I enjoyed, my overall impression of the production did not change.

Keep reading

wibblywobleytimeywimeystuff  asked:

Do phantom tickets really cost around $500 for the front area? How much to you recommend for paying for the US tour? This will be my first show, I been waiting 10 years to see the play version and it's finally coming next year

Hi there! Thanks for your question. No, I don’t think that you will ever pay $500 for a front row ticket to Phantom (at least, hopefully not in this decade). Prices vary a bit from theatre to theatre, but you should probably expect to pay between $100 and $200 for a good seat. When my mother and I saw the US Phantom tour at the Ohio Theatre in Columbus, we sat in the center loge (the front section of the mezzanine), and our tickets cost $200 apiece. But I heard from someone who saw Phantom at the same theatre that they got an orchestra seat for around $100, if I recall correctly.

To put this in perspective with the Broadway production of Phantom, my favorite seat at the Majestic, AA1 (front row, house left aisle), costs about $137, and the most expensive seats at the Majestic cost around $200.

Now, since the US tour will be your first live experience with Phantom, I would recommend that you watch at least a bootleg or two of the original production (West End or Broadway) before you see the tour. GlassPrism has some videos that you can download on her gifts page. I make this recommendation because Cameron Mackintosh and Laurence Connor, who produced and directed the US tour, respectively, did real violence to the production; the new tour is not the same show that has won numerous awards and has been running for nearly 30 years. In short, it is not Phantom (aside from the score), and the direction, the design, and the characterizations have all been hacked apart by the new creative team. Quite honestly, if the US tour had been my first experience with Phantom, I probably would have left the theatre hating the show. Or at least it certainly would not have had the same impact on me as the original production, where I returned to see it again and again (and still do!).

Anyway, that’s my $0.02 for watching the new tour. Please let me know if you have any other questions! I’m happy to answer them.

Can anyone think of some older mega musicals that still get new productions using the original staging/costumes/sets even decades later? For example, a lot of productions ALW’s The Phantom of the Opera still (mostly) replicate the same show you could see in 1986 in London. The Lion King gets new productions using the Julie Taymor staging. Hello Dolly revivals and tours used to use Gower Champion’s staging. Cats still gets productions using Gillian Lynne’s choreography (exceptions being the Broadway revival which was heavily revised by Andy Blankenbueler) but they have mostly changed the Grizabella costume (with exceptions). I believe the original staging of Tanz der Vampire has been replicated to this day, but Elisabeth has been changed.

But for example, you can still see the original Les Mis in London, but new productions use the Laurence Connor 25th Anniversary staging or entirely do their own thing. I’m not sure a theatre could do the original staging even if they wanted to.

The Shiki Theatre company in Japan is the only place you can see the original Crazy for You and Beauty and the Beast. 

anonymous asked:

After all I've seen from the US tour I'm more and more convinced that the badness of Hadley Fraser's Raoul was caused by bad directing

YES. It’s definitely my belief as well. The restaged tour Raoul reminds so much of RAH Raoul. The rage and arrogance. I like a strong Raoul, but fight FOR Christine, not agains her darnit! Simon Bailey was borderlining too aggressive, but he also had moments of charm. Ben Jacoby in the US leg of the tour, however… :/

Also, Hadley Fraser has been excellent in other roles. I think he’d be a great Raoul with warmth and charm under another director. But in the RAH concert it was like watching Javert in Raoul costumes.

anonymous asked:

Hi! I have never seen Phantom live before and I was thinking about going to see the North American Phantom tour when it comes to my area. I can't go to New York anytime soon and I was just wondering if you think I SHOULD go see the NA show. I really want to see Phantom but i don't want the North American tour to ruin it for me you know?

I fear I’m in the minority here, but I’d say definitely go see it. For many reasons. I’ll try to explain why. 

I think most seeing the tour as their first live Phantom performance is overwhelmed and impressed and intrigued. The music is grand, the visuals elaborate, the story touching. Cool theatre is cool theatre. 

Second, the tour has a solid enough cast, with some really good people in supporting roles. 

Third, it’s Phantom. Even if you end up a mega fan of the original version down the line, it’s cool to see different versions. Each version brings something different to the table, as does each performer. As for the tour, it’s grittier and with the idea of being more realistic. Whether you like this or not, it’s an interesting take, and something to add to your “POTO luggage”. 

As many other Phantom fans, I do think the restaged tour version has failed in the characterization of the three leads. Especially Cooper Grodin is an over-the-top and way too violent Phantom. The role of Christine has also been transformed into a will-less flower. But I also think there is no real connection between the Phantom and Christine, and with the angry!Raoul the tour has going on I don’t see why Christine would pick any of them (quite the same issue I had with the RAH concert, by the same director). I think a well balanced love trio is the key to a successful POTO, and I don’t think the tour got that at all. It’s two raging men fighting over a pretty flower. 

I’ve also ranted about how the costumes has been butchered in bizarre ways. Much of the damage done in the UK has since been smoothed out in the US, but there is still some weird-as-fuck costume choices going on, especially in Masquerade. When the tour presents itself as one using Maria Bjørnson’s original design, it’s a big fat lie. A lot of the costumes isn’t her design at all, and a lot of it is her design picked apart and/or redecorated so they’re unrecognizable (more here). 

I’m gonna admit it, I much prefer the original. I think the tour’s directing is lackluster, and I’m not at all happy with what they’ve done with the costumes. The set design also feels cramped, though parts of it is very cool. So it might seem strange that I tell you to go see the production. But as mentioned, the tour has its merits, with a grittier approach, some cool ensemble moments and backstage atmosphere. If I personally had the opportunity to see it I would not hesitate in doing so. Both to experience a different take on the material, and to be able to make a more qualified judgement. Worst case scenario, you don’t like it. Best case scenario, you’ll love it and become a major Phantom fan. I don’t think there’s too much to loose. 

anonymous asked:

How do you think Hadley would have done (or the 25th cast in general) if he was under Prince's direction? Hadley hardly seems to be any different than Connor's other Raouls now...

Yeah, I think Laurence Connor push the role of Raoul in a really unsympathetic direction to make the show more Phantom/Christine friendly. He claims he was never influenced by “Love Never Dies”, but it seems his headcanon is still that Raoul ends up an abusive drunkard, that it’s in his nature. The restaged tour Raouls has all been rough, shouty and bossy. 

I believe Hadley Fraser would have been fab under Hal Prince’s direction. He’s got the voice, he’s a good actor, he’s got the looks. With no prior run in Phantom, he was much dependent on the director to lead him in the right direction, and under Hal Prince I think he would have been a strong, passionate Raoul who would NOT shout at or roll his eyes at the love of his life. I imagine he’d be more in the vein of Ramin Karimloo’s Raoul, or Simon Bailey’s (West End) Raoul. 

It’s strange to read so many reviews of the new Phantom tour lambasting Laurence Connor’s staging as misogynistic (i.e. making the Phantom more brutal and Christine more passive), because I’ve always viewed his Les Mis staging as going out of its way to make the show as feminist as possible.

Then again, the main reason why I’ve thought that is because all the male abusers of women (Bamatabois to Fantine, Thénardier to Éponine, both the Montreuil and Paris pimps to their prostitutes, etc.) are especially brutal in his staging, more so than in any mounting I’ve seen of the original Nunn/Caird production. Since those characters are unquestionably bad guys (not complex and tragic like the Phantom), I assumed that the intent was “See, audience? This treatment of women is wrong!”

But who knows? Maybe the guy just has a fetish for woman-abuse, and whether it feels feminist or misogynistic depends on which show it’s in.

anonymous asked:

The original musical wasn't Leroux-accurate either.

I never said that it was. What I did say, if you read my post, is that the balance of the dynamic between Erik and Christine is distorted in the direction of the new tour, whereas in the Hal Prince production, it is more in keeping with Leroux.

If you have a more violent Phantom, you need a stronger Christine. The Phantom in Hal Prince’s production is less violent than Leroux’s Erik, and Christine is also gentler than her Lerouxian counterpart, thus balancing each other out.

In the new tour, Laurence Connor directed the Phantom to be more violent, but didn’t make Christine commensurately stronger. In fact, Christine in the new tour is quite passive. This transforms the dynamic between the Phantom and Christine from that of equals to that of an abuser and a victim, and not only that, but it romanticizes that relationship.

That is my biggest objection about the new tour, even more than the lowered production values or the hacking apart of Maria Bjornson’s designs.

So I saw Evita tonight which featured Sean MacLaughlin, a prior Raoul, as Peron. We chatted for a few minutes afterwards, and I asked if he’d ever go back to Phantom. He said he’d like to, and that brought us to the subject of the tour… I asked if he knew much about it, and he did not, so I told him about some of the new blocking… specifically Christine’s slap. He looked O_O for a moment and laughed saying “No, not the face! Not the face!”

Such a lovely guy. I’d feel bad for him or any other prior PotO actors that join the tour. It’s just so radically different… and not in good ways. I’d love to see Sean back on Broadway, maybe even as Phantom, but please stay away from the tour. Just.. don’t. 

anonymous asked:

From what I have heard ( in the webz), the "spectacular" tour of POTO has gotten progressively worse, not so much in the costumes but in the blocking ( don't get me started on what they have done recently to the MOTN number). So here's the million dollar question. Does Cameron Mackintosh get a kick out of pissing off the fans? If he was going ahead and re-doing POTO, he could have at least hired a better director than Connor (who seems to be making it up as the tour goes).

I think I agree. Whereas the US leg of the restaged tour has a major improvement in costumes (like, not just major, but MAJOR), the blocking really advocates abuse of women. I’m appalled by some of the scenes I’ve seen. There’s male entitlement and manhandling gone really, really bad, and Christine just accepts it.

There’s violence in the original too, but there Christine answers back and shows she is indeed her own mistress. I don’t know if much of this change is due to new ideas Laurence Connor has come up with, or if it’s specific to Cooper Grodin. Since the principal Phantoms before him (John Owen-Jones, Earl Carpenter, Mark Campbell) was quite different, and since Cooper Grodin’s understudies aren’t as nutball, I’m tempted to think it’s him. But I won’t rule out it’s in how he’s directed either. 

As for Cameron Mackintosh, I’ve heard from cast/crew members that he wasn’t too happy with the restaged tour in its early days. There were quarrels and tantrums at every other rehearsal and preview performance, and changes implemented daily. But I think he really wanted to make a new versions, without Hal Prince, so he could prove himself as a producer and show that the musical was still vital and alive. And yeah, I’m sure he gets a kick out of adding some changes for the sake of change so the mad “phans” will expose their silliness to the world. Both he and Andrew Lloyd Webber seems to have this attitude. I dunno. Whatever the case, I think he’s happy with the restaged tour as it is NOW. But he wasn’t when it opened in Plymouth back in 2012. 

Laurence Connor… Just ain’t my cup of tea. Most of his work seems to dependent on other directors (well, POTO and Les Mis), and where he DO add changes it’s for the worse. But I’ve heard some really loving his Miss Saigon in West End, so who knows. Maybe I should give that a chance. 

rjdaae said: I had another thought tonight: Connor has been saying that Christine is only 18 in this production—so she’s not just being made more vulnerable by directing her to be physically/emotionally weaker, but also by making her younger. :(

Oh geez. It’s the 2004 movie all over again. :( I mean, it’s not as bad as making her 16/17, but there’s still a big difference between 18 and 21, and in the original production, I get a sense that Christine may even be in her mid-20s. That also makes sense in terms of Grodin playing the Phantom as a man in his 30s (again, ala the 2004 movie).

This would also make sense in terms of Connor/Cammack trying to rope in a “younger” audience. The thing is, the amount of violence that the Phantom displays towards Christine, and Christine’s passive acceptance of it, sends an absolutely awful message to teenage girls! A lot of girls crush hard on Erik (sometimes even to the point of thinking that he can do no wrong), and I can see a tween or teenage girl thinking to herself that that kind of violence is okay because they saw the Phantom do it to Christine, and Christine didn’t put up any sort of a struggle (in fact, she walked right over to him and kissed him afterwards). In the original production, a strong Christine (like Samantha Hill, for instance) makes it clear that the Phantom’s behavior is completely unacceptable; she refuses to take his shit, and renegotiates their relationship on her terms. Once again, Connor demonstrates that he has no idea what he is doing. If he were trying to appeal to a teenage crowd, he shouldn’t have made a Phantom that was so violent that a 30-something year old felt uncomfortable. Smh.

anonymous asked:

Do you think Hadley Fraser could have been a better Raoul under a different direction? Actually, this goes to everybody under Connor's direction, whether RAH or the restaged tours (although Ramin was better in RAH than HMT as the Phantom, at least in my opinion)

I think he would. I’ve liked him in other roles, especially as Javert. Not sure he’s the ideal Raoul, I won’t claim that. But seeing just how much I loved Simon Bailey as Raoul in West End and how much of a douchebag his Raoul turned into in the restaged UK tour (and how much of a douchebag ALL restaged tour Raouls have been), I’m inclined to think I just really, really disagree with Laurence Connon on the interpretation or directing of the role. 

I do agree that Ramin Karimloo was a better Phantom in the RAH concert. Ironically I think Laurence Connor was also the resident director at Her Majesty’s Theatre around the time Ramin Karimloo played the Phantom there?