Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular Crivello/Holden/Ragone - 17 September 2009 7:00pm


Now I've been to opening nights for Star Wars and Star Trek movies, so I'm used to seeing fans show up in costume. But seeing it at a Phantom performance was something else entirely, particularly when the rest of the audience doesn't have a clue that there's a Phantom convention taking place. There weren't all that many costumed revelers when Mandy and I got to the theatre; I saw a Masquerade Raoul and some generic formal ball outfits plus masks here and there. But as curtain time got closer, there came a tuxedoed Raoul (Phantom10906 aka Andy), a Queen of Hearts, a Red Death (but not THE Red Death that I was keeping an eye out for), and others. Since I was sitting in row C center and had a cumbersome cloak on, I stayed in my seat as Mandy, Ashley and Andy loitered next to the orchestra pit and entered and exited the auditorium in search for other costumed phans. And to catch a glimpse of Hal Prince, I imagine. For this was the performance Mr. Prince said he would be attending. I was particularly interested in seeing how the cast would perform considering the director would be watching them that evening.


When Bryan and Lindsey finally made their entrance, it caused a bit of a stir amongst the audience members around me. And well-deserved, too. Of course with such grand costumes came the inevitable problems. Like the Queen of Hearts' giant white wig in the front row. Oh, the poor ushers who had to deal with complaints from people sitting behind such costumes. They obviously knew this might be a problem but seemed a bit perplexed as to how to deal with it. And hey, those Fans Week people must have known it would be a issue, too, so they shouldn't have acted all surprised that it happened. Seriously, do you think Red Death isn't aware that his giant feathered hat would be a problem for the people behind him? Of course he's going to take it off. Heck, that's half the reason I didn't come in full costume and my tricorn hat's miniscule compared to Bryan's. The Queen also sank down in her seat so her wig wasn't that much of an obstacle for the woman sitting behind her to have an excuse for another exaggerated conniption fit.


Mood: somber. Auctioneer: creepy. Monkey: musical. Raoul: old. Sparks were a split second behind Michael's gesture with the electrical cords and I nearly had a heart attack at the thought that the chandelier wouldn't go up (as if the Auctioneer actually had control of powering up the chandelier effect. Oh, silly Raphael…).


Always a blast. And again, fun to see all the people in front of you turn around to watch the assembly sequence. The woman sitting next to me, however, seemed more interested in her cup of coffee. A casual backward glance to see what everyone was looking at and then back to looking straight ahead. Way to bring the enthusiasm down, lady.


Hannibal/Think of Me:
Again, the cast was bringing their A+ game to the party. Just an aside, much was as I'd seen it the previous evening, so I'll only be bringing up things that were unique to this performance. The first of which was that I felt Kristi Holden was bringing a lot more energy to the part this time around. I've seen her a few times before and that night I felt her Christine was a little more vibrant and active than I'd seen her in the past. She performed a very lovely ToM and worked the scarf very nicely.


And honestly, I spent the first couple of scenes seeing if any of the actors were sneaking a peek at the costumes in the first few rows.


Angel of Music:
Again, Kristi brought a lot more energy to this scene as she enthusiastically told Meg about the Angel of Music. Brianne's Meg was great per usual, and you could see a slight difference in her interaction with Kristi's Christine. They were pretty subtle, but they were there.


Little Lotte/The Mirror:
Not much to say here. Andrew was then same warm Raoul as the previous evening and Kristi was nice and panicked after Raoul left. That's about it.


Phantom of the Opera:
I'd say same old same old, but the scene's far too impressive to be so dismissive. Suffice it to say it looked beautiful and Anthony and Kristi sounded great.


Music of the Night:
Confidence sums up the attitude Anthony's Phantom projected. Same interpretation as the previous night, so there's not much to comment on regarding his part. Kristi, as I've said before, is one of the more (for lack of a better term) zombie!Christines in this scene, but she did show a bit more awareness this time around. In fact, it looked like she actually put an arm around the Phantom's waist when they were at the portcullis before rushing off to her next mark.


Oh, one thing to mention about Anthony. What's up with the squeaky shoes?


Stranger than You Dreamt It:
I liked how terrified Kristi acted in this scene, curling up into a ball and cringing as he berated her for being so foolish. She also sat up and scrambled backwards a bit when Anthony began to crawl towards her. It's nice to see that visceral reaction in Christine until the last moment when she feels pity and offers him his mask back.


Notes/Prima Donna:
The cast sounds great together, Brianne rocks. 'Nuff said.


Il Muto:
Hey, Kristi's been taking ass volcano lessons! She had it set to ludicrous speed that night :) Brava!


All I Ask of You/Reprise:
Great chemistry between Kristi and Andrew, a pretty convincing mime of a French kiss there folks, and Anthony started abusing his fedora again.


To their credit, I didn't notice John or Lawson take any notice of the Red Death sitting less than a foot away from them. I also tracked Brianne throughout the entire number, so I got to see the hip swish again. Nice. Very, very nice.


I have to say that the final verse of "Masquerade" in this particular performance was THE best I've ever heard (including all the cast recordings). The music and voices all came together so beautifully, it sent a shiver down my spine. Even thinking about it now gets me all verklempt; I've got shpilkis in my genechtagazoink. Talk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic: Cold, unfeeling light is neither cold nor unfeeling. Discuss.


Giry's Confession/Notes II/Twisted Every Way:
Kristi had a hopeful look in her eyes when Raoul said he had a plan and then her look turned to shock and dismay when he laid out the details of that plan. Her subsequent reaction was also played in a less hysterical manner than Kristen's.


Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again/Wandering Child:
Kristi and Kristen's choreography was very similar, but I'd give Kristen the edge merely because when their Christines hold onto the gates of the mausoleum, Kristen would spread her arms so that her silhouette made it clear what she was doing. Kristi, on th other hand, would simply turn towards the gate and due to fact that her cloak envelops her, you couldn't tell what she was doing. Sorry, that's just the animator in me coming out. We're very picky about silhouettes. Kristi also didn't have her Christine struggle against the Phantom's hold over her during "Wandering Child," which is a shame in my opinion. Same zombie!Christine arms, though.


But in a more positive vein, I liked how Andrew practically took no notice of the first fireball directed at his back and absolutely no fear in confronting his rival. Very gallant.


Before the Premiere:
More heads looking about as the Phantom's voice moved from place to place. And Andrew played Raul as very concerned that no one be harmed unless absolutely necessary.


Point of No Return:
Kristi plays with that apple for almost the full length of the song. Far more than Kristen, but overall less sensual. But she did do that tease wherein Aminta holds the apple out for Don Juan but then pulls back.


In other news, I finally noticed the second marksman. And Brianne delivered the loudest and longest scream of the week.


Final Lair:
You could hear Kristi skid across the stage when Anthony threw her down. Sounded painful, actually since you knew the sound was coming from her hands and not the dress. But sadly, really not much else to say here Anthony's performance hit all the same beats as the previous night, as did Andrew, and Kristi (while high on energy) didn't play things in any sort of standout manner. Anthony wrapped his arms around Christine during the second kiss, Kristi did the same ring return and exit that Kristen did. That's not to say it wasn't a moving scene, because it was, just nothing jumped out at me this time.


Wow, what a lame ending to a review.


Oh! One thing I noticed that I never caught before. When Raoul kneels down on the bed as they pass out of view beyond the portcullis, he and Christine kiss. Which puts to rest any shenanigans my mind would have come up with had I not known that.