When: July 6th, 2005
AUCTION - Wonderful as always - Carrington Vilmont is just the best Auctioneer ever. This was also my first taste of Tim Martin Gleason
as Raoul. Of course, you can't really judge a Raoul by his old man stuff, but he still sounded better than Oliver Thornton
(although I suppose a thousand dying cats would sound better than Thornton).
HANNIBAL/GALA- Anne Runolfssen has improved
TREMENDOUSLY since I last saw her. Vocally, she was right on target. There were even bits of her acting I enjoyed. Larry Wayne
Morbitt is a riot onstage, as usual. It's nice to see a Christine dance en point which is exactly what Julie Hanson does.
Hanson's Christine is very much a part of the Opera Populaire. She establishes relationships with Meg, Madame Giry and the
other ballet girls. She's not the wide-eyed, space-case Christine we're used to and this makes it seem like she's really plucked
from anonymity to take over for Carlotta. Hanson looked and sounded amazing. Gleason, despite seeming a bit stiff, also sounded
ANGEL OF MUSIC/LITTLE LOTTE/THE mirror- Kara Klein does just fine as Meg, although she's just slightly less annoying than Heather McFadden. Really, the only Meg
who hasn't annoyed me has been Polly Baird. "Angel of Music" was very cute. Gleason is a decent Raoul. Not great, but decent.
"Little Lotte" was made very touching, especially Julie's: "Father playing the violin..." After Raoul exits, Hanson had this
dreamy look on her face, as if she'd really like to go with him. Then she remembers her angel wouldn’t' approve and
rushes to the door to call after him. Nice touch. It was my tenth time seeing Hugh Panaro and he never fails to give me goose
bumps in this scene. Hell, I almost got up and went through the mirror.
THE phantom OF THE OPERA- I feel like Julie has re-recorded this since I last saw her. It looked and sounded great, as usual.
OF THE NIGHT- Really, it's just a number where Hugh grabs the audience and says, "Okay, now I will completely enchant everyone
in the house, even the ushers." The two of them have fantastic chemistry.
I REMEMBER.../STRANGER THAN YOU DREAMT IT- I loved when
Julie wakes up and looks around the lair as she sings, ascertaining that all this actually happened. Hugh went insane when
she removed the mask, and Julie did something I've never seen anyone else do before. She looked for a way to escape. She pulled herself together and seemed to be looking around for an exit until Hugh catches up with her. Hugh, meanwhile,
actually started sobbing. A very effective scene.
MAGICAL LASSO- I actually enjoy this scene. Marylin Caskey is a really
wonderful Madame Giry.
NOTES/PRIMA DONNA- Who could possibly compare with George Lee Andrews and Jeff Keller as André
and Firmin? They're absolutely perfect. Anne Runolfssen sounded great. This was the best I've heard her sound. Her high notes
were right on target and the scene, always a gem, shined even brighter.
IL MUTO- Julie Hanson is the most adorable
thing onstage. 'Nuff said.
THE ROOF- Julie Hanson's Christine isn't a lunatic. She doesn't attack Raoul to get him
to listen to her. She does her best to make him understand what she's been through and then quietly reflects on her future.
Wonderful acting. "All I Ask of You" was very romantic, and the audience even applauded as Raoul and Christine descend the
staircase. Hugh was awesome, yet again. He started out in disbelief, which led to grief, which led to anger. A marvelous progression.
An eerily beautiful scene, as always. And the following scene does a wonderful job of showcasing Marylin Caskey.
II/TWISTED EVERY WAY- Another standout scene for Julie. This is a scene that usually has Christine screaming her head off
and confirming Carlotta's suspicions that she is, indeed, "mad." But Julie is calm. She stands her ground and proves she can
hold her own against Carlotta. I think this is why the audience falls in love with her. Julie's Christine is almost real and
that makes it easy to sympathize with her. The Don Juan rehearsal scene will always have a special place in my heart
because that's what usually went on in my Opera Workshop class.
WISHING YOU WERE SOMEHOW HERE AGAIN/WANDERING child- This is probably my favorite scene in the entire show Julie and Hugh were fantastic. Julies "Wishing" was heartbreaking
and really let the audience in on her vulnerability. Once again, Hugh's hypnotic voice could have charmed the pants of a fruit
fly (and considering flies don't wear pants, that's pretty good).
DON JUAN TRIUMPHANT- I love the opening chorus of
this scene. "Point of No Return" was great. Julie immediately recognizes that the Phantom is onstage but realizes that she
has to keep up the charade before she can make her move. Because of this, the scene entered a completely new level: tense
and passionate. And when the Phantom keeps her from leaving the stage, she gets a look in her eyes that says, "You wanted
to play this game. Now look where we are." After she unmasks him, she actually tries to escape. Great, great scene.
FINAL LAIR- A tour
de force. Hugh Panaro deserves to be ranked among the greatest musical theatre performers. His delivery is right on target,
his movement is fluid, and he keeps the audience spellbound. Julie was also fantastic. When she sings: "Pitiful creature of
darkness...etc.", she means it. She's found it in her heart to forgive and pity this poor man. The look she gives him after
doesn't say, "Okay, I kissed you, now let me and the boy go." It says, "There's my answer. Just let Raoul go." And it was
beautiful. I even got a little choked up. The perfect end to a perfect show.
After the show, I waited outside the stage
door and presented Julie with a bouquet of flowers and congratulated her on doing a wonderful job. She's my favorite Christine and she will be sorely missed. I also spent some
time talking with the lovely Janet Saia, who remembered me from Bloomingdale's way back in November. I told her about the
London production and she told me that she'll be playing Carlotta in the Saturday matinee, which is Julie's last show. They
were both incredibly nice and they, along with the rest of the cast, have continued to amaze and inspire me.