restaged uk tour

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Seven different ALW!Phantom deformities: 

1. The replica version, as seen on Ramin Karimloo in the Royal Albert Hall concert. It was in West End style, but had less colouring on the cheek and chin, and a more prominent… brain? The main idea is to give the impression of a lifted/drawn back lip so it looks like a beast sneering. The wig is a nod to the disease Alopecia Areata. Other replica versions have less prominent “brain”, and often bolder colours. 

2. The Las Vegas replica version, as worn by Michael Lackey. If you look closely, you’ll see that the prosthetic pieces is more or less the same as the original. But it was much heavier coloured, to be seen from the very back of the auditorium in the large Phantom Theatre. 

3. The 2004 movie version, as worn by Gerard Butler. Kinda underwhelming, looks like a bad sunburn more than a deformity he was born with. Of course made for movie closeups, but still not very terrifying. Certainly not something you’d be put in a cage and be forced to live in the underground for. But at least it followed the idea of one side being damaged, one being good. 

4. The restaged tour non-replica deformity. The abandoned the idea of a “sneering beast”, and instead went for… melted cheese. 

5. The Hungarian non-replica deformity, as worn by Sandor (Alexander) Sasvári. They too went for the “sneering beast” lip and the cracked skull, but went for grittier colours, with yellow flesh with black patches. The eye socket on the bad side was also coloured all black, to give the impression of a skull. 

6. The Polish non-replica deformity, where it looks like the skin is heavily infected and falling off in patches. Rather cool as such, but I hate that we’re able to see it’s merely a plastic piece attached over the ear. It’s like a second mask. 

7. The Czech non-replica version. Full-fledged deformity, going from lip to the very back of the skull. Less “sneering beast” here, instead the disappearing jaw area and the “empty eye socket” is underlined to give the impression of a skull. Interestingly enough, they’ve kept the cracked skull and “brain” idea, as seen in the RAH concert. 

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Official production photos from the restaged US tour, featuring Mark Campbell, Julia Udine and Ben Jacoby. Opening in Providence, the tour is currently in Minneapolis. And it seems they’re as slow with releasing official photos as they were in the UK… 

All photos by Matthew Murphy, from here, here, here and here

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Principal Phantoms and Christines in the restaged tour: 

1. John Owen-Jones and Katie Hall (UK, Feb. to Sept. 2012), 
2. Earl Carpenter and Katie Hall (UK Oct. 2012 to May 2013), 
3. Mark Campbell and Julia Udine (US Nov. 2013 to Jan. 2014), 
4. Cooper Grodin and Julia Udine (US Jan. to Nov. 14), 
5. Chris Mann and Katie Travis (US 2014-15). 

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Evolution in the restaged tour Christine wigs:

  • Row 1: Katie Hall, UK (2012-13), 
  • Row 2: Olivia Brereton, UK (2012-13), 
  • Row 3: Julia Udine, USA (2013-14),
  • Row 4: Grace Morgan, USA (2013-14),
  • Row 5: Katie Travis, USA (2014-15).
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So if you combine the restaged tour’s Phantom hairdo and the Estonian Phantom’s leather jacket… IT’S GREASE. 

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Katie Hall in West End and in the restaged UK tour: 

1. Dressing gowns. The West End one was in the traditional newer style: fitted, with a beaded belt front and back, engageants short in front and long in the back, and a modest ruffle made of two layers. The UK tour one was also very fitted (IMHO it always looked too small on her), made of a more structured fabric, and with less sculpted engageants. The closing went from left to right, instead of the usual right to left, and the ruffle was one layered. In addition she wore a prominent locket. 

2. Star Princess costumes. Or, the West End one was a Star Princess. The tour one was stripped of its stars. The West End one had strong, bright pink and baby blue shades, very large ruffle and puffed sleeves, and metallic blue boots and moon tiara. The UK tour one had no decorations, except some crystals here and there, and new shoulder straps and neckline ruffle. The accessories were black tights and low shoes, white long gloves, a mask, and a prom queen tiara. 

3. The Wishing dresses. Remained unaltered and basically identical (shown here is her u/s dress, I believe she brought along her alt. dress to the tour). The only difference was the presence of the locket, and the lack of a red scarf in the Mausoleum scene. 

4. The Aminta costumes. Another that remained fairly intact. Both had a short, fitted bodice with an embroidered stomacher, with engageant sleeves and makramé like tassel deco on the shoulders, and a rich, flounced skirt. But the tour one had a different stomacher, and the front skirt was split to allow Christine to show a lot more legs. She kept the black stockings from previous scenes. The West End one had more underskirt, no split in front, and also the small embroidered apron. 

5. The wedding dresses. The West End one had a boned bodice of metallic silk, with buttons in front, fans over the bust, engageant sleeves, and a rich lace decorated skirt. The tour one followed the same cut, but was made of a softer satin and no boning (?), and with a more sparse lace decorated skirt. To be very honest, it looks more like a toile than a finished product. 

(note that some West End photos is from Katie Hall’s understudy days, while others are from her alternate days. She had a different wardrobe) 

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Restaged tour costume rant #1: 

Let’s be frank - Maria Bjørnson never designed these costumes. The current costume design can’t be interpreted this way, and I dare you to show me the so-called discarded designs in her archive apparently sparking the inspiration for these (“designs found in her archive that she created for the original and never used” - quote Cameron Mackintosh). 

The generic Victorian gentleman costumes? Nope. 
The “bedsheet” sylvan glades and the “Monkey Girls” satyrs? Neeh. 
The pink, overly photoshopped fantasty Rococo dress? Nicht! 
The atmospheric backstage work clothes? Doubt it. 
The Medieval lord showing up in the Baroque Don Juan Triumphant? No! 
The Gaston uniform with glittering gold mask? Don’t make me laugh. 
The Zorro figures in Don Juan Triumphant? Hardly. 

I’m sure these costumes work fine on stage, in context. But don’t call them Maria Bjørnson’s design. I’ve seen no evidence of her designing this, ever. Show it, or shut it. But stop selling this in as “using her original costumes”. 

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Restaged tour costume rant #2: 

What annoys me the most about the restaged tour is how much time and money was spent on remodeling beautiful, existing costumes, by picking bodices and skirts apart, and/or removing all decorations. The main result is that the costumes ends up looking unfinished and sometimes cheap. And this has taken A LOT OF MONEY to achieve. And they want us to bow and applaud their amazing tour wardrobe. Yes, it WAS amazing. Was. Before you attacked it with scissors. 

Take the Carlotta’s Notes/Managers dresses. They removed all the piping decorations on the bodice and skirt - a faint imprint can still be seen in the crimson velvet on the red dress. The red dress is now also used in the first act instead of the second act, and the b/w in the second act, in what appears to be change for the sake of change. This doesn’t add anything to the character of Carlotta. In fact, they remove an important feature of these dresses - such piping was inspired by soldier uniforms, and tells us that Carlotta is ready for battle. It’s not by accident both her first and second act manager’s dress has this kind of decoration. Without it Carlotta can of course still be feisty, but the immediate visual hint is gone. 

The Masquerade costumes is another story. The ornate, allegorical costumes were stripped down and remodeled, to become more streamlined ballroom creations. For this they HAD a specific idea. But why then insisting on using Maria Bjørnson’s creations, and call them hers, when it’s not what she designed and not what they wanted? Why not use for example the Don Juan Rehearsal Victorian costumes with masks and cloaks? It would have made more sense. And it would have hurt less. AND it would have been cheaper yet looked way more classy.

There’s also more tongue-in-cheek changes, like transforming Masquerade’s Monkey Girl into Satyr pants for the Il Muto ballet. I don’t really mind this one. It’s amusing more than anything. 

But overall, the changes done to the originally very ornate costumes must have cost them quite a bit. And ironically, the costumes ended up looking cheaper, and has lost a lot of symbolism. I really don’t understand the philosophy behind it. With as detailed sketches Maria Bjørnson made for each costume, often showing both front and back and the specific accessories, it’s definitely not a matter of having “misunderstood” her instructions or that they “found designs in her archive that she created for the original and never used” (quote Cameron Mackintosh). 

I’m sure these costumes works fine on stage. But when you call them Maria Bjørnson’s design and intentionally spent a lot of money to make them less like her design, I’m not gonna applaud and say the costumes are SPECTACULAR. 

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Lovely Degas photos from the restaged tour: 

  • Degas recreated, US leg of the tour 
  • Hannah Cadec (?), UK leg of the tour
  • Morgan Cowling, US leg of the tour 
  • More Degas moments, UK leg of the tour