I don't get all the anger. How was Sierrah favored?
This is a multi-faceted answer. If I were to give the short (which anyway will become long) version, I’d say it went something like this:
*25TH ANNIVERSARY After having done the 25th anniversary in Royal Albert Hall, they put her on for a few weeks so she could do the 25th anniversary on Broadway too. This despite having no prior history with the Broadway production, so the few-week-run mainly felt like a bad excuse to get her for the celebration. Many felt the honour should gave gone to either a long-runner from that specific production, or at least Samantha Hill who was the alternate scheduled for the principal slot once Sierra Boggess left.
*SOUVENIR BROCHURE For the 25th anniversary they made a new souvenir brochure, which was great. They too rarely do that in the US. But when they for her limited engagement 1,5 years later also made a new souvenir brochure - the third new one since 2006, which just happened to be the second to feature Sierra Boggess - it felt a bit overdone. One could say it was also to feature Norm Lewis, but then why not make it with Norm Lewis and Mary Michael Patterson, cause the latter will have the principal position both before and after Sierra Boggess second limited run. She will have played the role a lot longer, and it would make sense to make a brochure with more relevance (they knew she’d take over again).
*THE 11,000 PERFORMANCE So Sierra Boggess did the 25th anniversary performance, AND the 11,000 performance you say? NO. Just no. MARY MICHAEL PATTERSON did the 11,000 performance. But since Sierra Boggess is their darling, they decided to CELEBRATE it the day after, when Sierra Boggess was on. The official press release said that they “today celebrated the 11,000 performance, with Sierra Boggess and Norm Lewis”. So what so you read from that? Probably what everyone and their mother did, that Sierra PERFORMED that particular performance. Oh, but they just meant to say they celebrated it that day, right? Bullshit. They basically lied to our faces. This despite Broadway tradition saying that they celebrate with the actual cast - alt. Adrienne McEwan doing the 15th anniversary show, alt. Julie Hanson doing the 7,000 performance show, alt. Elizabeth Loyacano doing the 21th anniversary show etc. So maybe they wanted to celebrate with the principals this time around? Hardly. Understudy Greg Mills was on as Raoul the day they celebrated with Sierra Boggess. If they really wanted all their principals, they’d waited.
*MONEY TALKS As someone else commented on on Tumblr, based on official numbers given, the show sold better when Peter Jöback was 4-month summer vacation cover for Hugh Panaro, than what the show has done with Sierra Boggess’ 4-month cover this summer. That is totally not the impression they’ve tried giving us, though:
*SOCIAL MEDIA When not sharing “Wordless Wednesday” photos and badly photoshopped Norm-in-historical-photos-totally-not-related-to-POTO photos, it’s been a Sierra Boggess feast. She’s been giving an attention totally unparalleled, to the point where you wonder if it’s a Broadway production site or a Sierra Fan Club site.
“Sierra plays her final performance with us tonight. It was wonderful having you back, Sierra, and we will think of you fondly!” “Norm Lewis and Sierra Boggess sing "The Phantom of the Opera” in this seductive new video. What do you think of the dynamic duo’s version?“ "In honor of Sierra’s final week of performances, here she is singing “Think of Me” for TBT” “Sierra Boggess’s final performance is this Saturday! Will you be seeing this angel of music before she leaves?” “There are just two weeks left to see Sierra Boggess as Christine in PHANTOM. She plays her final performance September 6!” “Sierra Boggess’ final performance is in three weeks. Will you have a chance to see her?” “4 weeks left to see the incomparable Sierra Boggess in PHANTOM! Get your tickets now!” “There’s just 5 weeks left to catch the outstanding Sierra Boggess in PHANTOM. Sierra plays her final performance on September 6th.”
…is just some of the stuff the Broadway page has posted this last month. The focus on Sierra Boggess as the focal point of the production is 1. bad for the show, as it tells the audience that the only reason to see POTO is that Sierra plays Christine. Now that she’s left, there’s no point in seeing it, right? 2. It’s incredibly disrespectful to the rest of the cast.
So in short, making the show envolve around Sierra Boggess is doing the show a big disservice. This comes from one thinking she is a fantastic Christine. But even a lot of us thinking she is a fantastic Christine was extremely fed-up by how the powers-to-be handled having her around. Goddamnit. She is one of many fantastic Christines.
I’ve noticed that the Broadway Facebook team IS listening. They’re trying very hard to follow up on the new Christines on the same level of what they did with Sierra Boggess (and they’ve stopped the lame Norm-in-historical-photos photoshopping, thank God). But we’ll see how long that lasts. Their memory tend to be very short. Frankly, I don’t see why it’s so hard to stay focused on the main thing - share general production news and rare backstage insights. Create a buzz for the SHOW, make the SHOW last, without any dependence on star casting.
Things not to do: push all other Christines aside to let your darling be the one featured in souvenir brochures, in milestone celebrations, in social media and in promo videos. It’s so transparent it hurts.