Phantastic Phantom

If you are acquainted with me through Facebook, Twitter or a close friend or relative, you will know that pretty much a large portion of my life is Phantom. The reasons why I love Phantom as much as I do, is a topic for a blog all on its own. This blog, however, is my experience of seeing Phantom for the 32nd time Thursday 10th April.

I was also meeting up with the lovely Alex, Annie and Dawn, who share my passion for Phantom. To me, Her Majesty’s Theatre, the home of Phantom since it began, is one of the most beautiful theatres ever. From the beautiful victorian mouldings in the foyet to the gorgeous interior of the auditorium, you can almost imagine a Phantom stalking in the theatre after everyone has gone home. 

My favourite place to sit is either in the Grand Circle or the balcony. The views are amazing and, without any spoilers, you can see absolutely everything. 

I had heard great things about Geronimo Rauch, the Phantom who had taken over from Marcus Lovett in August 2013. I was expecting great things from my 8th Phantom. Every “Phantom” I’ve seen has been my favourite for some aspect that they’ve brought to the role.  Geronimo was something else. My ultimate Phantom has always been and will be Michael Crawford,  but Geronimo comes a very close second. 

The Mirror Scene is the first time we physically see the Phantom, and from then I was hooked. Geronimo was for me, the embodiment of the Phantom, yes he loves Christine so hes soft and his voice reflects it. The Phantom gets angry with Christine, and hes scary. He threatens the Managers and you feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, he cackled as he interrupted “Il Muto” and you knew he meant it.

The Graveyard Scene is an indication to me of how good the Phantom is. Ever since I heard the original cast album, and Michael Crawford singing “Wandering Child, so lost, so helpless” it sends shivers down my spine. Every Phantom I have seen does that and Gero was no exception. 

The Final Lair is also important. Every Phantom has had me in tears at this scene and again Gero had me sobbing! At times he was extremely scary and quite physical  and if I was playing Christine (I can dream can’t I!) I’d be quite scared, but you still had to feel for him. The first and final kiss Phantom ever had, the embrace from Christine, knowing that the Phantom was going to lose was heartbreaking. Which is all what a Phantom should be. I was so happy to meet Geronimo at Stage Door after, and almost couldn’t believe it was the same person as I’d just seen on the stage, he was so sweet and looked genuinely surprised and happy that we had waited to greet him. 

Harriet Jones played such a beautiful Christine with a voice to match. You could totally understand and believe that both Raoul and the Phantom both loved her and yet, she could still stand up for herself.

Unfortunately for all “Raouls” I’m always on the side of The Phantom, but Sean Palmer played an amazing Raoul. He has a wonderful voice and just right for a handsome hero.

Even the orchestra sounded bigger and even better, the sounds were richer and sublime. The Phantoms Overture will always be my most favourite piece of music ever, and the orchestra just blew me away.

In summary, Geronimo played the Phantom to perfection, an almost Lon Chaney Phantom. Harriet played a beautiful Christine and Sean a perfect handsome hero. Every cast member and orchestra member plays an important role in the success of Phantom, and this cast is one I want to see again and again. 


Fab Time With The Fab Four At The Regent Theatre

I went to the theatre with nothing more than a hope that Let It Be was going to be good. Being a fan of the Beatles, I have been to many tribute concerts and at least two musicals based on the band, some of which are amazing and have seen more than once and a couple which I have to admit weren’t so fab.

The minute we walked into the auditorium and saw the set design I knew that we were going to be in fora treat. It was so good to see the theatre filling with young and old alike, ones who were teenager when the band started and ones who were just teenagers.

The music blasted from the start and the outstanding set of the “Cavern Club” through to the Shea Stadium Concert. The set design has to be seen to be believed, the auditorium felt like it was actually the stadium. Its been a long time since I’ve seen a packed theatre audience standing up and dancing before the end of the first act.

My dad is not a big fan of The Beatles, but even he said that it was amazing!

The second act took us through the Beatles psychedelic era, Sgt. Peppers and the famous rooftop concert. One outstanding highlight has to be “George” singing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, what he did with the guitar had the audience standing.

I have to admit that I only like hearing “Hey Jude” Iin concert, and that was amazing.  Everyone was up swaying, singing and clapping through the whole song, and screaming for more.

The musical is another one to emphasise that The Regent Theatre deserves the West End shows when they go on tour and the well deserving audiences of Stoke On Trent will flock to them.

In my blogs I hope to be objective, maybe even show some points which could be changed slightly, but in the case of Let It Be, there is nothing to change, and lets the audience “Come Together.”

Stunning La Boheme At The Regent Theatre

Friday 21st March I finally got to see the Opera and Ballet International presenting an Ellen Kent Production featuring the celebrated Chisinau National Opera and National Philharmonic Orchestra of Puccini’s La Boheme. After hearing Wynne Evans singing a beautiful song from La Boheme in a concert in Cardiff, I felt I had to see it. My favourite opera’s are usually Mozart, but wanting to broaden my views on other opera’s, I was looking forward to seeing it.

I was sat on the second row back from the orchestra and it is a spine tingling moment when you hear the orchestra warming up and the applause as the conductor takes his position. The curtain rose on Act  1 and the scenery was beautiful. You would have thought that you were in 1830s Paris, in the

Bohemian Latin quarter. Marcello (played by Petru Racovita) was busy painting and Rodolfo (played by Ruslan Zinevych) trying to write his poems in the bitterly cold attic. They were soon joined by thier friends Colline (played by Iurie Maimescu) a philosopher and Schaunard (played by Iurie Gisca) a musician. After skillfully avoiding paying their rent yet again, they decide to go and spend what little money they do have in the market place. Rodolfo decides to stay behind and finish his poem. A beautiful seamstress named Mimi (played by Elena Dee) enters and asks for a light for her candle. It is obvious that she is very ill, but Rodolfo is immediately charmed by her. They both tell each other about themselves, Rodolfo a romantic poet and Mimi sees the beauty in every flower she sews.

They declare their love for each other and leave for the market place.

Act 2 found us in the marketplace and Marcello’s old flame Musetta (played by Olga Perrier) comes on to the scene on the arms of an older aristocrat. Marcello tries in vain to ignore both her and her attempts to win him back. Eventually he can ignore her no longer and after managing to avoid paying their bill at the restaurant, the four friends, including Musetta and Mimi make their escape with the brass band.

It was so good to see and hear ones of all different ages saying how much they were enjoying it and some saying it was their first time seeing an opera.

The curtain rose on Act 3 and the scenery was breathtaking. It was now February and it was snowing, actually snowing! Mimi was looking for Marcello to tell him about Rodolfo and how his possessive behaviour was destroying their relationship and that her illness was getting worse. She hid when Rodolfo entered the scene. Rodolfo confided in Marcello his own behaviour and appeared quite angry, but then he softened and confessed how much he loved her and worried about her illness. Mimi comes out of hiding and after a touching heartfelt duet, they both decide to part.

Act 4 and the curtain rose on where we began. In the attic living space on Marcello trying to paint and Rodolfo trying to write and each trying to convince the other that they were better off alone and single. Schaunard and Colline join them and they try to cheer each other up and try to look on the bright side of things. The mood is shattered however, when Musetta runs in to announce that she has found Mimi outside and shes dying. Rodolfo immediately runs out and brings Mimi in from the cold. Each of the, decided to sell somethimg to afford a doctor to see her. When Rodolfo and Mimi are left alone, they remind each other of happier times and how they met.

Sadly Mimi dies before the doctor arrives and Rodolfo’s reaction is heartbreaking. Ruslan Zinevych portrayal had the audience in tears, Rodolfo obviously loved Mimi.

There are many elements which make a performance amazing and La Boheme had it all. The set design was outstanding, the music carried you along and the individual performances combined to ring all the emotions from the piece. Although it was sung in Italian and there were surtitles, you could easily follow the story based on the performances alone.

The standing ovations and long aapplause touched every performer including the musician in the orchestra. Such amazing opera’s are putting The Regent Theatre and Stoke on trent on the map for theatregoers. I can’t wait to see more diverse range of plays shows and operas in the future at The Regent Theatre.


An Evening With The Tri Tenor Cymru

ImageThe following blog is from the amazing night I had of seeing Mr.Aled Hall, Mr.Rhys Meirion and Mr.Alun Rhys Jenkins, Friday 7th March.

After sit eing Mr.Hadefiniter.Meirion in Cardiff, I was so excited to see them again, especially as Mr.Rhys Jenkins was poorly for the Cardiff concert, was going to be performing too. Also the added bonus of Mr.John Owen Jones and Mrs.Elin Fflur supporting them meant that it was going to be amazing.

After purchasing Mr.Meirions and Mr.Owen Jones album I went to find my seat. The only way I could have been closer to the stage was if I’d haveoccasions enng on it! The Venue Cymru is very nice and it was a joy to see it steadily filling up with all ages.  Also it was lovely to hear so many people speaking Welsh and I was quite surprised how much I actually understood!  The brilliant Welsh Session Orchestra including the brilliant Caradog Williams took the stage followed by Tri Tenor Cymru and song after fabulous song from both of their albums.

After a few ‘sneaky’ plugs of their albums, the beautiful Elin Fflur took the stage and sang equally as beautifully in Welsh. Then came Mr.Owen Jones. I have seen him a few times as The Phantom, but having him stood in front of me singing “Music Of The Night” was something I won’t forget. 

The first half of the concert went far too quickly. Then the beautiful Elin Fflur came back on stage and sang an amazing duet with Mr.Meirion which was a definate highlight. Then a comedy highlight, albeit unintentional, was Tri Tenor Cymru singing ‘Busy Doing Nothing.” Mr.Hall was so funny that Mr.Meirion and Mr.Rhys Jenkins lost their place!! ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ was a beautiful rendition, so much so that more than one tear was shed and not just by myself. 

Another outstanding highlight was Mr.Owen Jones singing ‘Bring Him Home.’ He has of course sung it on many occasions, but when he sang half of it in Welsh there were gasps all around the theatre.

A standing ovation was more than deserved and I gave another ovation after they sang ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.’

If there was any doubt of how much the audience enjoyed their performance, the crowds of people waiting for their albums to be signed should have answered that. I had met Mr.Hall and Mr.Meirion in Cardiff and to have Mr.Hall waving to me as I patiently

waited was great. Mr.Rhys Jenkins was lovely , even to the point of complementing my musical note tights!! It gave me such a boost to have all three of them standing next to me with their arms round me for a photo, proof again, if ever it was needed that they are amazing, down to earth talented tenors. 

All I can say is, roll on the next concert and album 😀 

10 Tenors Concert

The following blog is my review of one of the most amazing and beautiful concerts I have ever had the privilege of seeing and hearing.

My journey began rather event fully from Stoke On Trent train station. What should have been just 2 trains turned into 4  but I had a feeling that what I was going to Cardiff for would more than make up for any train trouble. And how right I was. I was already looking forward to hearing 3 of the tenors, Mr.Aled Hall, Mr.Rhys Meirion and Mr.Wynne

Evans before I knew what they were actually singing. Then I found out that Mr.Meirion was to sing Parla piu piano and Mr.Hall to sing my absolute favourite ‘Largo al Factotum’. My view couldn’t be better as I was sat on the very front row in the middle. The standard was set as all the Ten tenors sang ‘O Sole Mio’. Every note was perfect and made

the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. It was so good to see Mr.Hall and Mr.Meirion live as I am a big fan and a supporter of them and it made it just that more special. Outstanding tenors followed each other singing from Meyerbeer to Puccini. Occasionally I closed my eyes just to make the sounds that more real and I was in music heaven. The highlights for the first act were Mr.Halls rather energetic rendition of ‘Largo al Factotum’, including his pink and black striped socks! And Mr.Meirion singing ‘Parla Piu Piano’. Also Caradog Williams beautiful self composed ‘Gwinllan a roddwyd’ sung by Cor CF1, an amazing mixed choir.

The second act seemed to come around so quickly, almost too quickly. There arent many artists who can sing without music and still move an audience, but Mr.Hall can and did. The mostly welsh audience were deeply moved by his rendition of ‘Myfanwy’ to the point where you could literally

Hear a pin drop and one lady sat next to me wiped away a tear. Song after song followed at break neck speed until they reached the finale. Imagine 10 strong beautiful tenor voices singing ‘Nessun Dorma’ plus the beautiful choir and

It was almost too much perfection. I’m sure if you were outside St.Davids Hall you would be able to hear it. That was followed by all of the artists singing ‘Time to say goodbye.’ The standing ovations were more than deserved and I wished the concert wouldn’t end.

Throughout my blog I have described the Concert as beautiful, thats because there arent many words that could actually do justice to the amount of talent on the stage from the pianists to the beautiful talented ladies to the tenors themselves. All of this was made extra special due to the fact it was all for Welsh Hearts charity, to raise money for defibrillators and all the artists had donated their talents for the special night.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog and if you’d like more information about the charity..@WelshHearts on twitter and on FB also The Three Welsh Tenors albums are available from Sain records and follow them on twitter @aledhall @rhysmeirion @alunrhysjenkins