FLASH FRIDAY: A PHANTOM 25 Celebration
In honor of this week's US re-release of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA AT THE ROYAL Albert Hall in Fathom-equipped movie theaters - PHANTOM 25 for short - today we are again focusing on the multitude of attributes that have made Andrew Lloyd Webber's unforgettable gothic musical the most successful entertainment of all time, now in its 25th year onstage and recently reaching 10,000 performances on Broadway, where it is the reigning longest running show of all time. The gargantuan excitement generated by and the enthusiastic reception enjoyed by PHANTOM for audiences worldwide is unprecedented, yet, the new ultimate presentation of the show - PHANTOM 25 - is even more spectacular and thrilling than any iteration of PHANTOM on any stage or screen thus far. Bringing together the cast of a lifetime with the electricity of a live audience, the HD preservation of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA AT THE ROYAL Albert Hall is positively peerless in its sleekness, precision and polish of presentation. Never before - not even in the vaunted hands and cords of original show stars Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford - has the show been this contemporary, sexy and hypnotizing. Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom brings a rawness and austerity to the role that commands attention and Sierra Boggess is, in a word, supreme, as the young ingénue under the Phantom's watchful musical tutelage. So, too, does Hadley Fraser's perfectly painted Raoul hit the right mark, as do the rest of the exceptional cast in their commitment to making clear-cut, strong and colorful impressions in their roles. The LED-enhanced set is an imaginative reworking of the designs by Maria Bjornson and the musical staging is smooth and assured thanks to original show choreographer Gillian Lynne. Yet, the star of PHANTOM 25 is, unquestionably, Andrew Lloyd Webber's rapturous, rich and enveloping score. Bringing together an impressive and inspired assortment of genres in creating the quintessential pop opera, Lloyd Webber employs elements of grand opera, opera bouffe, operetta and musical theatre, as well as incorporates a diverse range of musical styles - even a little heavy metal guitar in the title song, as we shall see (and hear). The score of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's finest achievements and stands tall alongside his other classic scores for JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, EVITA, CATS, SUNSET BOULEVARD among many other international hit shows. Indeed, the story and score of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is so very complex and decadent as to allow for a continuation of the story, score, characters and overall themes in the form of the new musical, LOVE NEVER DIES, which premiered in a new version in Australia last year and whose story traces the relationship of the Phantom, Christine and Raoul from the end of the original show all the way from Paris to Coney Island ten years later where PHANTASMA is the show everyone must experience thanks to a mysterious figure lurking in The Shadows beyond the carousel. In today's celebration of PHANTOM 25, we will again take a look at the original music videos, the legendary Hal Prince production on Broadway and in the West End, the forthcoming re-release of LOVE NEVER DIES - coming to Fathom-equipped theaters nationwide later this month preceding its US DVD/Blu-ray release - all with a special spotlight on the most phantastic anniversary concert of all time, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA AT THE ROYAL Albert Hall. Don't miss your chance to hear the Phantom sing on the big screen once more!
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA AT THE ROYAL Albert Hall will return to Fathom-equipped movie theaters nationwide on May 21. LOVE NEVER DIES will return to movie theaters on May 23. More information on both is available here.
Let Your Soul Take You Where You Long To Be
Kicking off our celebration with some history on the show that started it all, here is the informative introduction that ran before the live movie theater presentation of PHANTOM 25, featuring original producer Cameron Mackintosh, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and many more tracing the nearly thirty-year history of the show.
Next, check out the trailer for the DVD/Blu-ray release of PHANTOM 25. Yes, indeed - now you can relive the experience all over again and make phans of your friends and family, too! It's almost too good to be true for a voracious fan - or phan - of the show! Yet, nothing beats it on the big screen!
PHANTOM 25 is not the only reason that PHANTOM has been in the news recently: Nicole Sherzinger took to the stage of the Royal Variety Performance late last year alongside four previous Phantoms, and, as is clear to see and hear in this clip, did more than merely well by the title song of the show. Wow!
Going back to where it all began, check out the original video version of the title song from THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, created before the show had even begun rehearsals, directed by iconic British visionary Ken Russell (famous for TOMMY, THE BOYFRIEND, THE DEVILS and WOMEN IN LOVE, among others). Starring Sarah Brightman along with the first proposed Phantom, rocker Steve Harley, it is a far cry from what Hal Prince ultimately created onstage with the material. What do you think of Russell's vision for the piece - and, especially the accoutrement, such as gold Medusa masks and slithering snakes? Furthermore, what about this very early version of the lyrics (credited to Mike Batt and Richard Stilgoe)? Most importantly: is the Phantom indeed now your mastermind, after all? See and hear for yourself here!
After perusing the pop version of the title song, now hear how Andrew Lloyd Webber and Charles Hart finessed the song into the version we now know and love in the final finished show, as can be heard here in the title track as performed on Original London Cast Recording of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA by the original Phantom and Christine, Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman - both of whom, of course, also made a surprise appearance at the close of PHANTOM 25.
Next, let us follow the progression of the title track one step further and hear how Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Cullen re-orchestrated, re-arranged and re-emphasized portions of the duet for the 2004 Joel Schumacher-directed film version of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, here sung by Emmy Rossum and Gerard Butler.
Now, without further ado, click through to take in the majesty of the PHANTOM 25 and witness this clip of the unforgettable performance of the title song as done by Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess. This may very well be the most dramatically committed and technically ideal version yet rendered on video (or YouTube, for that matter)!
With a further taste of PHANTOM 25, don't miss this all-too-fleeting sample of Ramin Karimloo's exemplary "The Music Of The Night".
In perhaps her most striking and stupendous musical moment in a night of many, here we have Sierra Boggess making "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" all her own at PHANTOM 25 - with big, big results!
Looking ahead to the Fathom presentation of LOVE NEVER DIES, the continuation of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - returning later this month to movie theaters and available on disc soon after - here is the sleek music video for the Phantom's big first song in the musical sequel, "Till I Hear You Sing", performed by that show's original Phantom who also happens to be PHANTOM 25's eponymous lead, Ramin Karimloo. "The Music Of The Night" may have met its match!
Also, here we have PHANTOM 25's Christine performing the title song from LOVE NEVER DIES - accompanied by Andrew Lloyd Webber, no less - the eminently divine Sierra Boggess (who, incidentally, has now played Christine in three distinct PHANTOM shows: PHANTOM VEGAS, LOVE NEVER DIES and PHANTOM 25).
Lastly, take in the the trailer for the film rendering of the lauded Australian production of LOVE NEVER DIES, directed by Simon Phillips, which returns to Fathom-equipped movie theaters on May 23.
As a special bonus, here is the trailer for the two-night re-release of PHANTOM 25 and LOVE NEVER DIES.
With this week's grand re-release of PHANTOM 25, as well as LOVE NEVER DIES presented in Fathom-equipped movie theaters two days later, phans and theatre fans alike are certainly in for the most thrilling - and phantastic - May imaginable! Please be sure not to miss either PHANTOM 25 or LOVE NEVER DIES - I can tell you from personal experience that both are unforgettable entertainment events that you will deeply desire to enjoy again and again (and again). What a year 2012 is shaping up to be for theatre-on-film - both PHANTOM 25 and LOVE NEVER DIES are so compelling as to warrent theatrical re-releases! As all us phans know, with anything PHANTOM-related, once is never - ever - enough, so let the music of the night live again for you and yours on May 21 and May 23.