PHANTOM OF THE OPERA – This is a series of posts on the ongoing theme of my favorite musical, Phantom of the Opera. The material remains the same: with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Charles Hart, all based on LeFantome de L’opera by Gaston Leroux circa 1909. This is the story of Christine–reunited with her long-lost love Raul, thrust into a leading role–at the hand of her saboteur and vocal coach. It’s not the first time I’ve seen the musical at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco. What’s different, you might ask? It really comes down to advancement in set design and technological innovation. Thanks to producer Cameron Mackintosh with well-known hit such as Miss Saigon, Les Miserables and Cats. He has made the Paris Opera House and its subterranean labyrinth the star of this production (when it really should have been the Phantom or at least Christine). I don’t feel this Phantom was as strong as the previous version. There was a production glitch, which caused the house lights to come up with a 5 minute pause, between the theme and Music of the Night. The stall derailed the momentum. Still worth seeing? Yes! It is Phantom, after all.
LOVE NEVER DIES – Recently, I watched a City Center movie theater presentation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, titled Love Never Dies. Webber’s new work is a follow up to an all-time classic and personal favorite; a sequel to ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. The pros of seeing the film version: larger-than-life, movie screen sized performers singing music that’s been recorded live. While it’s obviously not shot in one take, it’s clear that this performance is not a lip-sync. The cons are; ‘Love’ will never match the elegant brilliance of ‘Phantom’, along with the film’s static nature that isn’t as exciting as live theater. While I don’t think ‘Love’ is still in theaters, it will be released on DVD in May, according to the Playbill website. On a related topic, the 25th anniversary performance of ‘Phantom’ continues on PBS this week, as well as being currently available on DVD. My love affair and deep admiration for Phantom began in orchestra section seats at the Orpheum in San Francisco. The phantom’s anguish over an opera singer, amidst the subterranean opera house catacombs, is beautifully conveyed in concise lyrics and soaring musical arrangements.
VAUDVELLIANS – This is a review of “The Vaudevillians” featuring Jinkx Monsoon previous winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race on Logo. By the time you read this review, “The Vaudevillians” will be long gone, from San Francisco. However, based on what I’ve seen, you’ll still continue to be able to catch the show, from coast to coast. I have to say my expectations were surpassed in every way imaginable. To call this show cabaret is a gross injustice. While it does feature live music, it’s so much more than that. The premise centers around a pair of resurrected vaudeville performers (Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales) who were frozen for a century and have now been defrosted. The husband/ wife team claim to be the original writers of much of today’s pop/ rap music. WTH? I know, right? It sounds convoluted. But, the beauty of the show–besides formidable talents as a songstress and playwright–is Monsoon’s comedic timing. There was a portion of the show where she wandered into the crowd and started messing around with the audience. This may sound blasphemous, but I was reminded of the comedic talents, of the late great Lucille Ball. Yes, she was that good. As a side note–it showed at the Verdi Club, a very cute little theater which I hadn’t even known existed–after two decades in the city. I hope to see shows there more often because I really enjoyed myself. To sum it all up, do yourself a favor, go check out “The Vaudevillians”!