Fan Review - Cara

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Where: Broadway

When: June 1st, 2005



Prologue: Nothing new here, Carrington is as excellent auctioneer, sufficiently creepy. Only added was Raoul’s line of “Boy,” when he calls the porter holding the music box over. Seeing the chandelier rise from the second row was insane.

A Rehearsal for Hannibal: This is one of my favorite scenes. Anne Runolfusson is a wonderful Carlotta. Her acting to me leaves a little to be desired. On the line, “WHAT DO YOU KNOW?!” She has a chance for laughs, but she delivers poorly. Her voice however, is beautiful. Unlike some Carlotta’s who possess nasally, almost ugly voices, Anne’s is beautiful in the upper range. It would be easy to see why she is the opera’s diva. John Wasiniak was a wonderful Piangi, very funny, lovely voice. The only problem was that he kept reminding me of my high school history teacher, so I always wanted to laugh.

Think of Me: Bravo Julie Hanson. She toned down her vibrato and the result is a lovely, youthful voice. If you guys know me well, then you know that one of my biggest pet peeves is when a Christine sounds and looks too old for the part. Julie is the perfect mix of talent and youth

Angel of Music: Kara Klein was Meg. Cute girl, decent voice, talented dancer. All in all, your perfect Meg combination, though it would be nice to see a stronger alto in there at one point.

Little Lotte: Enter Tim Martin Gleason. I am still in mourning over John Cudia leaving, but I do like Tim. He is very foppish and his voice isn’t the greatest, but he just plays Raoul so well that I love it.

Angel of Music/The Mirror: I think I stopped breathing here. As odd as it may sound, Hugh’s voice always sounds it’s best in this small scene. “Insolent boy, this slave of fashion, bassssssking…” He always growls out basking. Many Phantoms’ overact this scene, and it sounds disjointed and fake. Hugh gave a natural, angry, performance. You can tell that he isn’t pleased, and he doesn’t need to force it

Phantom of the Opera: Umm, this is pre-recorded lol, so lets move onto…

Music of the Night: Ladies and Gentleman…this was the money shot. Absolutely fantastic. The best I’ve ever heard of any Phantom, including Crawford’s. What was even more amazing was Hugh’s acting. Perfect, perfect, perfect. He is smirking throughout the whole song, as if he knows exactly what he is doing to Christine, and he loves it. “Soar” was so beautiful. Powerful and yet light. “Be” was incredible. Hugh backed off on the vibrato and out came this crisp, phenomenal sound. Something that I’ve never seen before, the audience actually started applauding before Hugh finished. He was singing, “Help me make the music of the ni—APPLAUSE! To give you an idea of just *how* good it was, after hearing it, my super jock, sports loving step father leaned over and said, “That was the greatest performance I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait until point of no return.”

Thank God I didn’t laugh out loud…that would have been bad.

A side note: Right before Hugh went into 'Stranger...', he was sitting at his organ in the robe. He spent a moment in silent concentration, and then gave this long wistful sigh...wonderful touch. it made him seem so beautifully human.

I remember/ Stranger Than Your Dreamt it: Thank you, Hugh. So many Phantoms do this scene whining and bitching and moaning. Hugh did the entire thing as an angry growl, which I loved. Julie was very good, her acting is wonderful, and she truly looked touched as he crawled across the floor. “Burns in Hell,” was said with a wonderful edge on his voice.

Notes: One of the best notes I’ve seen. I still prefer Keller to Jerome, but I love George Lee Andrews and everyone just blended so well together. Jerome lacks Keller’s comedic timing, but posses a wonderful singing voice. He is also an exceptional actor, so bravo Tim. Have I mentioned that Marilyn Caskey is a phenomenal Giry? She just plays the role so well. She has really grown on me. Runolfusson was wonderful, and she hit her high E superbly.

Prima Donna: Nothing exceptional. Very good from all parties.

Il Muto: Again, nothing exceptional, Runolfusson switched to a belting voice on her lower notes, which was a little strange, but sounded fine. Hugh’s laughter was, well…insane. The reactions from the ballet girls were hysterical.

All I ask of You: Tim and Julie have a wonderful Chemistry. Like I said, Tim’s voice isn’t the greatest you will ever hear. In my opinion no one will ever top Steve Barton, though John Cudia came close. But his acting is just so dead on Raoul that I find myself endeared towards him.

All I ask of You Reprise: Something a Little different from Hugh. When he first climbs up onto the angel, he isn’t sad. Rather he is completely taken aback. How could his Christine do this to him?! His voice is powerful and confident…until “When he heard you sing.” On that, Hugh broke down, but not into despair. Rather, he got very angry, which made his “you will curse…” incredible.




Masquerade: Absolutely wonderful. Sitting so close gives you an incredible view of all the costumes. The detail is absolutely breathtaking. The singing was good, I’ve complained in the past about the sound being disjointed, but it was very “on” tonight. Hugh’s read Death entrance was very good. Julie’s acting in this scene was wonderful. Her facial expressions are very expressive and you can read her emotions on her face. When the Phantom appeared, she simply stilled, which is much more disturbing than blatant displays of fear.

Madame Giry’s Tale: Caskey was amazing! I couldn’t believe how wonderful her acting was, and I’ve seen her do this three times before. She seemed so flustered and disturbed. This scene has the potential to be very dull, as if Giry is simple reading off a list. Caskey however, threw her weight into it, and listening to her speak you can hear her fear and confusion. Simply excellent.

Notes II: Managers were very good. Jerome and Andrews worked well together. Carlotta was a total bitch…as she should be. Wasiniak as Piangi was *excellent* He isn’t as strong as Larry Wayne Morbit, but he acted out the part so well. He was at times haughty, and at others content to be led around by La Carlotta. Tonight’s show was a great night for acting all around. Julie Hanson’s “Twisted Every Way” was wonderful. Her voice, when she gets rid of the excess vibrato is beautiful. Some notes she sang very softly and you could just hear the perfection of her pitch. Now, I saw Tim Gleason on the Phantom tour, and his “The disaster will be yours,” was severely lacking. He said it too fast and garbled the words. Obviously, for Broadway, someone pulled him aside and said, “Tim…yeah, that sucks, say it slower,” because he sounded great.

A Rehearsal for Don Juan: One of my favorite scenes. I love how creepy the chorus looks when singing along with the piano. They sound fantastic, and the scene never fails to produce chills.

Wishing you Were Somehow Here Again: Julie did have some of her heavier vibrato here, but on the whole the song was very good. Wishing isn’t one of my favorite songs, simply because many Christine’s do load on the vibrato, which doesn’t allow for much acting. For example, Julie is so busy putting power into her notes at the end that her face is unable to truly act out the emotion that Christine should be feeling. To Hanson’s credit, this is extremely hard to do, and as I said, Wishing, as a whole, was very moving.

Wandering Child: Absolutely Stunning. Hugh gave me chills. His voice was *so* powerful and *so* possessive. Plus, when Tim ran on stage, Hugh doesn’t yell, he taunts. I love this. I *hate* whiney Phantoms. Hugh Panaro turns the whine into a sarcastic taunt. Instead of “Bravo Monsieur” sounding like, “Oh no, what are you doing here!”, It sounds like, “Thanks for ruining my plan, ass, to bad you have to die now!”

Well that’s my interpretation lol.

Point of No Return: Is an explanation even necessary? Hugh’s voice is so rich and beautiful. It adds such emotional depth to an already emotional song. “You’ve decided…decided…” He sounds like some Angel of Doom passing judgment. “What sweet seduction…” He enunciates slowly and with purpose. The man not only has a fantastic voice, but an amazing vocal technique. Julie’s vibrato was a little heavy again, but her acting here literally blew my mind. This is the type of scene that wins people Tony awards. Everything she did, each glance, each breath, was nuanced and with purpose. In my opinion, it was better that Sandra Joseph’s by far. Hugh as well. Even though we can’t see his face, his body language is very expressive. As Christine sings “Bodies entwining…” his hands clench and begin to kneed his robe.

After she reveals him, Hugh obviously begins to sing “Say you’ll share…” Here, Julie actually looked as if she were about to cry. I couldn’t believe how torn she looked, as if weighing her options. I’ve always though the argument that “Christine unmasked the Phantom to save him” a little weak, but after watching Hanson, I could probably believe it.

Again, something knew from Hugh. When she unmasked him (and that is one hell of a deformity. I think the Broadway make up artists keep making it larger and grosser) he didn’t do the normal decent into rage and horror. Instead, he gave this hiss and insane smile, as if he had expected her to do it. He absolutely looked like he was about to say “Curiosity killed the cat…”

Final Lair: One word…unhinged. Hugh has been sarcastic in the past, but tonight he lost his mind. Not in the Peter Karrie way. Hugh is so good an actor that he doesn’t need to resort to the over the top portrayal. But he was definitely insane. “Christine…Christine…why…WHY?!” was not sung. Rather it was growled low, and then final, screamed. “Pity comes to late…” He actually laughed at himself, and then her as he forced her to look at his face. I’ve never seen a Phantom laugh at that point.

“Wait, I think my dear, we have a guest…” Absolutely dripping with sarcasm. Panaro gives the Phantom a witty intelligence that is greatly appreciated. When Raoul sings “I love her,” he laughs out loud to himself, as if Raoul being capable of love is the most ridiculous thing he has ever heard of.

“Order your fine horses now…” Perfect. I hate when actors rush this in an attempt to sound angry. No. It was written against absolutely beautiful music. The music expressions your anger…don’t kill it. Panaro does it and I love him for it.

“Start a new life with me…” Panaro literally hauls Hanson on top of him. This was the most that I have ever seen a Phantom and Christine touch each other. He goes back to the organ, his face this incredible, twisted mask of hate and pain. She sings “turn to tears of hate.” Now, Panaro usually has his face completely fall into agony, but this time, he quickly leapt from the agony to anger, and he reached his hand toward Raoul, as if he wanted to choke the life out of him.

“You try my patience…” I love how Hugh hisses this. Again, I hate when Phantoms over act because it always looks so *fake*. Hugh’s portrayal is so wonderfully real, and yet so larger than life. Another interesting note. His face was so close to Christine’s that it almost looks as if they were kissing.

This kiss…beautiful. He is so stunned and unsure of what to do. Tear worthy.

From hear on out, Hugh composes himself, shouting at Raoul and Christine to leave, but never losing control. When Christine returns the ring and leaves, he stumbles after her, whimpering. Then he whispers “I love you,” then a second “I love you,” even softer. I hate when Phantoms scream it, which Hugh sometimes does.

“You alone…” Was beautiful. Very strong, very powerful, and very moving. Nothing rushed, nothing glossed over quickly…just wonderful, heartbreaking sound. I couldn’t have asked for better.