PHANTOM OF THE OPERA UK Tour: The Reimagining And The Reaction!
Anything that threatens to shake the world of Phantom of the Opera Phans is met with suspicion - just look at the mixed reaction to the announcement of Love Never Dies, even before any of its music had been heard.
The announcement of the new UK tour, however, was met with cautious approval. After all, there are thousands of Phans all round the country who can't regularly traipse into London to see the show at Her Majesty's Theatre. They have been very excited about getting the new reimagining of their favourite musical in their town - and the cast are equally excited to be bringing it to them.
"It is great to be back at the Opera in this brand new, re-invention of Phantom," says Simon Bailey, who's playing Raoul on the tour after a successful spell in the West End in the same role.
"The tour is going so well so far, playing to packed houses and with an incredible cast. Being able to recreate such iconic roles has been both challenging and rewarding, and we are all so proud to be taking this show on the road for the country to see."
Kathryn has been a die-hard Phan for 20 years, but it wasn't until 2008 she got to see the production on a trip to London. Now she's making the most of the show being on the road - she's seen the tour version three times already.
"Character differences-wise, the direction of this production has made the Phantom less of a supernatural being, but emphasised more his dark and twisted state. However, whilst genuinely making the whole story seem more real and tangible, contrarily, the magic and intrigue still remains in full," she says.
She admits she found some of the small tweaks odd to start with, being so familiar with the original production.
"Every single change, however small or subtle, seemed peculiar: from the actual major set, to a bed in the lair, different costumes, choreography and set in Masquerade, a totally different chandelier..." she explains.
"After a good night's sleep, I dismissed some of the changes, and realised that the core of what I knew was of course, still there, and I realised further how much I really, really, thoroughly enjoyed the show; and how I completely loved the changes. It sounds like a cliche, but they bring such a freshness and added realism to the show, which makes the show all the more entrancing."
She lists her favourite tweaks to the production as: "the rooftop scene and All I Ask Of You, mainly when the Phantom comes out; the dressing room with the corps de ballet, just before the mirror scene - it has been said by others also, but this scene is so pretty, it looks just like a Degas painting.
"I also love Masquerade, especially the giant, beautiful mirrors that form the set - they look as ornate, grand and impressive as the CGI ballroom scene in Beauty and the Beast, but are real. Also the candles that are 'magically' floating in the lair scenes are brilliant."
Kerry, another die-hard Phan, hasn't yet seen the tour but is using the thought of it as a reward to get through her studies this term.
"In forward thinking terms I will love it - but have to wait till it's here!" she laughs. "I'm really looking forward to it! The thought is getting me through my exams."
So the tour is settling into its final "reimagining" as it finishes its tenure at Plymouth and heads up to Manchester for a spell. I'll leave the final word to Kathryn: "I still love 'The Brilliant Original' in the West End, and always will; but there is something about this new production that has captured my imagination and I totally love this production - in different ways, too."
The Phantom of the Opera is on tour around the UK.