Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Lloyd Webber’

Remember Your First Time

Yes, I very fondly remember my first time seeing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.  It was on a Saturday afternoon in October 1990 at the Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University (ok… so I had to check the Stagebill for the official venue name) in Chicago the day after our marching band performed it’s halftime show featuring the music of the phenomenon…. complete with Phantom masks and capes.  Tonight, as the family gathered at one of the first high school productions ever produced, I was taken back to that day 20 years ago.  In the row in front of me sat a woman who turned around and asked it I was one of Emily Curtis’ students.  I very proudly stated that indeed I was and still am.  The woman (who was a dear friend) told me that Ma2 spoke very highly of me  on several occasions.  We both told how much we dearly miss her.  I knew that I was in for a memorable, magical evening.

I do not believe that I have ever seen a professional production of any show before I saw a high school production of the same.  It has been many years since I have seen Phantom on stage (the movie does not do the musical justice AT ALL) so there were some things that I did not remember.  But everything about tonight’s production was shockingly gorgeous.  The set design was phenomenal.  My favorite piece was the bridge used during the “Don Juan Triumphant” scene.  It honestly looked like it could have been used as the barricade in Les Miserables.  The graveyard scene (“Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again”) was dark and mysterious with just a faint glow of moonlight (but no fireballs thrown by the Phantom 😉 ).  I was also impressed with the illusion of the Phantom and Christine’s journey to the lair beyond the lake.

The young thespians on stage when PHENOMENAL.  The leads both began taking voice lessons a year ago in preparation for auditions and it certainly showed.  The title character had an extraordinary range.  I was on stage with the young man in my first Village Players production  (Meet Me in St. Louis) and he has come A LONG WAY since then.  Every time I have seen Phantom, I measure the quality of the production on one thing: the amount of goosebumps I get when he sings his signature song “Music of the Night.”  Needless to say, the high school JUNIOR nailed it!

The actress playing the role of Christine in ANY show must have a wickedly outrageous voice.  The runs in tonight’s delivery of “Think of Me” were crazy good.

I must say that my least favorite character in the show is the third leg of the triangle: Raoul, Vicomte de Changy.  He always seems to me to be a whiner.  But again, a fine performance.

NOW for the real stars of the show: Msrs. Firmin and Andre, the theatre owners.  They are the comic relief that holds the show together and their timing as well as their voices were impeccable.  The outrageous “Notes” and “Prima Donna” pieces in which there are like 50 melodies at one time (ok… not THAT many) were handled very nicely.  In younger days, I would have so gone out for the big two roles; however, after a little high school show that I was in (not a post about my on stage experiences), I definitely know which roles I am so suited for.

If I had one complaint, it is what could not be done in this production.  Do not go to be blown away by HUGE theatrical spectacle.  Some of the big stage pieces simply are not possible on a stage and budget of a small school and most are there (just no fireballs). Yet, if any school in my little corner of the world could pull it off, it was this one at the most glorious setting we have to offer.

My 6 year old nephew’s favorite scene: “the dummy who dropped from the ceiling on the noose.”  Ok, that was enough for him who slept through the last 10 minutes.

Yes, a small school CAN produce extraordinary things.  Thank you to the lady in front of me for taking me back 20 years and making me remember how special my own “Angel of Music” is to me.  Emily would have been ecstatic!

Over The Rainbow In A Different Oz

Tonight sees the opening of what sounds like a different production of The Wizard of Oz.  Produced by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, the London premiere has all the elements of the classic 1939 movie however, it has added elements which (according to Sir Andrew) make it more suitable to the stage.  Added are 4 songs which give Glinda, The Wicked Witch of the West, and the Wizard  a chance to use their singing chops.  Apparently, the Good Witch’s short bit in Munchkinland does not count as a song.  For the new songs, Lloyd Webber re-teamed with lyricist Tim Rice a partnership which dissolved 30 years ago after Evita.

Casting for Dorothy was done in what seems to be the Lord’s new-found trademark: the televised talent show.  He did it for Joseph, Maria in The Sound of Music, and now for Oz.  I dunno about this American Idol meets theatre concept.

A familiar name was cast in the title role.  Michael Crawford (the original Phantom of Lloyd Webber’s production) was number one on the list.  I can actually picture Mr. Crawford in the roles of Professor Marvel and the Great Humbug.  Wonder how many other roles he will be filling.  Taylhis, how many parts did Frank Morgan have in the movie?

This July, Fountain City Festival will be performing a version closer in production to the original movie.  As soon as I get back on my feet… I really pray that it is soon… I look forward to helping to bring one of my favorite shows to the stage.

Two Week Break

BOOOOO!  No break, please.  But I suppose my vocal coach and her family is entitled to some fun over the summer.  I can take this time to scour my books and find more and More and MORE! music to work on… no worries, I won’t kill myself just get some more songs that appeal to me.  Kathrine has offered to make some copies of Conductor pieces, but I still cannot find a copy of “Thuy’s Death/You Will Not Touch Him” a powerful, dramatic duet from Miss Saigon.

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I have already copied some music from a few Lloyd Webber shows, some of my favorite Alan Menken/Howard Ashman Disney character pieces, and a few more duets.  I have had a few people state an interest in singing a duet with me so I’m doing my best to find some.  I have a serious one to work on with another tangenteer… wherever she is.  YOOHOO!  Plus, I am still continuing my preparation for Hound of the Baskervilles.  Why does it seem to me that most guys grow a beard in the winter?  I’m one of the few who grow one in the summer in the 90+ degree, humid weather… ah, well such is the life of a performer.  You would have thought my time Fiddling on that Roof 8 years ago would have made me leary of growing another beard, but Oh, No… not me… whatever the role calls for, I will do!  Even before the audition 😉

Ooook… so two weeks off. 🙁 Still thinking a weekend gig would be fun with some friends joining me.  Come on tangenteers!

Eric And The Beast On A Rag

I did get to sit in the audience of the City Band Wednesday night.  I wasn’t sure if it was going to be at the bandstand or at its alternate venue.  Before finding that out, I decided to locate the place of my Thursday afternoon voice lesson which was easier to locate than the directions given by my new coach.  I googled the address and it was a breeze to find.  Especially with the number written on the mailbox.  The house was buried by a wooded area but really easy to find.  All I had to do was turn off of U.S. 6 onto County Road 13 and it was .3 miles away.  Then, with plenty of time to spare, I went to Wal Mart and ran into some old friends and saw the truck belonging to another but was not able to find him.  I must have been on the wrong end of Electronics (or he could have been hiding). 😉

After discovering that the concert would be at the ice rink with five minutes to spare, I decided that given the choice, I would have rather directed Stars and Stripes this week as opposed to last (not complaining, just sayin’).  I just think this week’s concert had better music. Many songs I was already familiar with… “12th Street Rag” I had sung in choir and played sometime.  Of course, a different arrangement than I am accustomed to, but I would have enjoyed sitting in the low brass section playing “Selections from Phantom of the Opera” and the title tune from the animated classic turned hit Broadway show “Beauty and the Beast.”

Speaking of Phantom, my brother turned to me and stated that the high school at which he serves as the tech advisor will be performing the musical next year.  I did not believe him until I looked on line and discovered that the rights have just indeed become available from R&H productions for high school and amateur productions.  There had been “test” runs a few years ago overseen by Lord Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group company.  But how did the small school get the rights so quickly?  Hicksville had better “Got Talent” to pull this off.  I imagine that the rights are probably for a tailored production of the musical.

I asked Liz if they were going to come next week for the announced ice cream social “before and during the concert.”  I don’t think she realized where she will be next Wednesday because she didn’t know if they would be or not.  Probably not since they will be at Disney World.  Maybe they could borrow Aladdin’s magic carpet, Carpet. I’d rather be there when it is not so hot!

A fun concert moved to a different venue to be “safe rather than sorry.”

A Sequel to Broadway’s Longest Running Musical

A few months ago, a fellow tangenteer posted about the upcoming continuation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, a musical that first hit the London stage 23 years ago… today on October 9, 1986…WOW!  Since then, it has been translated into 15 languages, seen in over 25 different countries by over 100 million people, and has won over 50 major theatrical awards worldwide… we will just mention the movie version in passing.  Yesterday, the Lord held a press conference in which he announced (once again) that Love Never Dies will be given its West End premiere on March 9, 2010 and in New York in November 2010.  What happened to the triple opening New Year’s Eve gala of 2009?  He began working on a story 15 years ago coming up short.  I guess it takes years to come up with a show when you haven’t produced anything even remotely original and successful (did anyone see Woman in White?  I didn’t either and apparently no one else did either).

From what I gather the plot will find the characters (Raoul, Christine, and the Phantom, himself) at Coney Island ten years following the events in Phantom.  The Phantom has traveled to America and is billed as the top draw at the amusement park while still pining for his true love.  Christine accepts the invitation of an impressario to perform in the States.  Not much there.  Time will tell if love will never die or if it will be buried like all of the most recent Lloyd Webber works.

But you can check out the press release, listen to the overture of the new show, as well as a new Phantom song (“Til I Hear You Sing”…it’s no “Music of the Night”) by visiting the official website.  I wonder… if a show has an official site, does this mean that it is going to be produced or is it just another red herring?

P.S.  If any of my readers are in or around the London area or plan to visit, there is already a site which is offering travel packages for the show.  Maybe that is another sure sign.

An Unexpected Song And Dance

Sunday afternoon is the annual All County Band and Chorus concert.While in high school, I always looked forward to this event. Not only did it mean two days out of school to practice, (I went for both groups all four years), but it also meant being surrounded by fellow students who shared a passion for music. However, one of the schools in the county, until recently, never chose to participate. During my junior year, we had the privilege of having R.D. Mathey as the guest clinician for the choir. It featured, among other pieces, a medley of Andrew Lloyd Webber pieces. I was among the brave souls who tried out for a duet of “Unexpected Song” from Song and Dance. Unfortunately, I was not chosen to sing the duet. I do remember the performance of Jester Harrison’s “Amen” which was a staple of the BGSU Men’s Chorus under Mathey’s direction. I tried to find a youtube video but they must not perform it anymore.

Another common occurrence was the typical winter storm that would either cancel the concert or postpone it for a week. One year, it was delayed twice before it was finally shelved for the year. Why it has always been in the middle of winter, I do not know. Justj, is your youngest involved this year?

It’s Just A Flesh Wound, Honestly

Tuesday night’s American Idol will feature the finalists performing the music of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber. I really do not have a problem with this per se. However, I do recall on several occassions when the judges have commented that a contestants performance is better suited for the Broadway stage and not what would make a good money-making pop star. To me, the finalists should be well versed in multiple genres of music. Why should they appeal to only screaming, teenage fans? There are other outlets for people with some degree of musical talent.

There have actually been attempts to integrate musical theatre songs into the realm of “popular” culture. In the late 70s, the soundtrack from the movie Grease generated several songs which were popular hits. In the late 90s, the British boy band Boyzone had a modest US hit with the song “No Matter What” from Webber’s Whistle Down the Wind.

Recently, former American Idol contestants have also gone on to appear on the musical stage. Third season champion Fantasia Barrino was cast as Celie in The Color Purple. In January 2008, second season runner-up Clay Aiken joined the cast of Spamalot as Sir Robin.

While the music of the theatrical stage may not appeal to everyone, it will be very interesting to see the American Idol contestants takes on the songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber. They may introduce audiences who would otherwise steer clear from the genre or one of them may become tomorrow’s Broadway star.

Crossing the Big Pond

Planning a trip to London? Let me be your guide to the best the West End has to offer in theatre. Already there are the Bradway hits Wicked, Phantom of the Opera (ok, ok, it was in London first), and the just opened Jersey Boys. However, there are several productions which have not yet made the leap over to the U.S.

There is the Andrew Lloyd Webber produced revival of The Sound of Music. Apparently, Lord Lloyd Webber cannot produce anything new on his own that is capable of making money so he must revive not only his past successes but also breathe new life into other’s works as well (whaever happened to his planned sequel to Phantom?). There is also a revival of Webber’s Joseph….. In a bit of “American Idol” meets musical theatre, the Joseph for this production was chosen on a reality television show. In 2007, the new Broadway cast of Grease was chosen in this way on a series called “Grease: You’re the One that I Want.” Not a very original title.

There is also a new musical version of the classic novel and movie Gone with the Wind. The Trevor Nunn directed production stars Darius Danesh as Rhett Butler. Darius was seen on “Pop Idol” which is the British phenomenon that inspired “American Idol.” I wonder if the judges told him that he was “too theatrical” as Simon Cowell has been known to tell American contestants.

Perhaps the strangest if not the most ambitious show of all is the staging of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. It took three films of nearly three hours each to scratch the surface of the novels. I’m sure Rings purists are left wanting after only one 3 hour musical.

So…. if you are in West End or are planning a trip over the Atlantic, consider taking in one or more of these stage hits. Of course many times, today’s hits of London become tomorrow’s Broadway blockbusters and vice versa.