*sigh* Part IV of my four part series entitled "Phantom in May." Today was a matinee performance of Phantom in Toronto with Paul Stanley as the Phantom, Glenda Balkan as Christine, Paul Mulloy as Raoul and Janet Coates as Carlotta. (My 5th Carlotta...)

The audience was wonderful. I didn't see a single lighter or hand in the air. There were only 2 wolf whistle things the entire performance (at the end of MOTN and at the very end). If you were worried about the behaviour of the audience, you needn't to have worried! (Of course, this was a Saturday matinee...)

Now I'll stop rambling and get to what you all want to know...

Entering the theatre I knew this was no normalperformance because of the police office with a bullet proof vest on at the door! That was the only thing I saw that was out of the ordinary. Except for the souvenirs. Ok, they didn't sell any of Rene's CDs at the show, so why are they selling Paul Stanley postcards, t-shirts and hats? But, thankfully, they were still selling Peter Karrie's CD.

Auction: Paul Mulloy is a wonderful Raoul! His voice isn't the perfect Raoul voice, but who cares? It was rich and beautiful to listen to! By the way, in case you haven't seen the list "101 fun things to do at the theatre" by Stefanie, bidding on the things at the auction looks like a lot of fun. ;) It was sooo nice to see a chandelier that SHOOK while they auctioneer was describing it! The Music Box Tour's chandelier doesn't shake.

Overture: What can I say? It's the overture. Though from my seats, I could see Janet Coates standing while she waited for her cue. ;)

Hannibal: Janet Coates belongs to the Julie Schmidt school of Carlotta. This Carlotta seemed intelligent and VERY sure of herself. Janet's nose seemed to be up the entire first act. While she was singing with Ubaldo (Brent Weber), her whole face just screamed "I know I am great on stage. I can hit the notes and I can act wonderfully."

When Piangi finally got "Rome" right, she didn't even turn her head to Reyer, but had the smuggest look I have ever seen. (By the way, I don't believe Janet's Carlotta ever turned her face AWAY from the stage during the 'performances'. Very cute ;) Brent Weber was so cute getting on the elephant! Jay Lustek and Steven Stein-Grainger had the sword up by the final note. Brent wasn't even sitting upright by the final note! Carlotta was flirting so much with Andre, it was cute. But after she was done flirting, she turned to Piangi and blew him a kiss. (Too bad I was at the wrong angle to see his facial expression.)

The very end of Janet's "These things do happen" speech was hilarious. She looked like she was doing the whole thing just to get attention. I MISSED Firmin's taking out of the cigar at the beginning of Christine's TOM when I saw the Music Box Tour. The cigar just makes those lines WORK. Firmin takes out the cigar because he wants to calm his nerves. When Andre motions takes the cigar out of his hand, that's WHY he says that not smoking isn't going to help his nerves.

Think of Me: Now I remember why I kept saying Glenda was my favourite Christine. She has such a beautiful voice! And she kept acting even during the obligato. And have I said before Paul Mulloy has a WONDERFUL voice?

Angel: Catriona Ferguson. She was WONDERFUL as Meg. I don't remember her being so good May 6. Her voice was perfect for Meg, kind of airy but light and 'playful'. And she could act the part as well! (Imagine that, someone who acts, sings, AND dances!) She acted like the young girl who loved life and was concerned about her friend. (And who also thought her mother made her practice too much!) Kristina Marie Guiguet is the epitome of Mme Girys. She's so severe in her manner and has a lovely stage voice.

Angel, Part Deux: I came into this show with no expectations for Paul as the Phantom. I did not think he would do wonderful, nor did I think he would do terrible. So, keeping this in mind, I was pleaseantly surprised. I didn't think that his voice would be as wonderful as the other Phantoms I have seen, and I was right. But I had to give him a lot of credit for trying. You can easily tell that his voice isn't trained very well. His enunciation was off, at times it sounded like he wasn't trying and other times it sounded like he was trying too much. (At one point, his s's and f's became WAAY overdone and a bit painful to listen to.) But he did do a nice job at this part. And Glenda...Glenda,, Glenda, Glenda.. I missed her as Christine! She's wonderful!

Title Song: The first double of Christine didn't lift her arm up as she went down the stairs. I'm so used to that double doing that in Toronto that it looks odd not to see the arm. The second doubles do the whole way down the travelator. I kept my eyes on them the whole time and did not see a switch. Paul did a good job at the end of the song. I won't say if it was good or not because that's all taste. He did the shouting at Christine nicely, except I personally did not like the final "Sing for me" because he shouted the me too loud and WAAAY too long for my taste. But other people may like it. I DID Have a HUGE problem when he ran his fingers through his hair. I'm only a second year acting student, but form day 1 I've been taught never to do a movement unless you know WHY your character would move like that. Paul ran his fingers through his hair, except I KNOW he had no clue WHY he was doing it. Looked to me like he was only doing it because all of the other Phantoms before him had. Which is a bad acting choice.

MOTN: Average. Half the time, he looked into it. The other half of the time it sounded like he was just singing along with the OLC and acting along in his living room. But his 'soar' was nice, had a nice vibrato to it. And his 'be' started out poorly, but after a beat it was fine with a nice vibrato. The main thing that bothered me at this point was the song is flowing and there are no quick movements. Except for Paul's head. During the end of the title song and MOTN, he would jerk his head around once in a while. One of them during the VERY end of the title song looked..out of place because he just quick turned his head towards the audience then quick turned it back. He said "touch me" instead of singing it, so that line was a command for her to touch him instead of a suggestion like I usually see it as. I didn't notice how long he held out the last note, was too busy looking at Sandra Margolese (the bride doll) wondering if the fact that the blood was rushing to her head was bothering her at all. (Music Box bride doll stands up (arms leaning on sides of mirror) with her face bare to the audience. Toronto bride doll bends down at the waist and puts the veil over her head. I don't know which would be easier! Standing perfectly still with yoru face open to the audience or having the blood rush to your head during the whole "Stranger..." song!)

Stranger: Paul's Phantom cannot function without his mask. It's as if he has had it on so long, he does not know how to move or look without it. When Christine ripped off his mask, he...hard to explain.. he walked sort of slumped over and threw himself onto the ground. His 'crawling' wasn't as nice and flowing as Peter, but, then again, he's not Peter.

Punjab Lasso: Well... I don't really remember it! Except that it looked to me that Buquet liked how short the skirts of the ballet girls were. ;)

Notes: I missed my Toronto managers! "You've got one too" was sooo cute! They both looked SOO giddy and happy to have gotten mail! Then their faces FELL so much when they realised what the notes were about. Raoul was ever the protector of Christine. The way Paul Mulloy played him reminded me of Gaston in "Beauty and the Beast." His chest seemed to be out like he was the manly man and would take care of whatever problem came his way. Janet Coates looks tall from the stage. It could be just the wig and everything, or the fact that the last two Carlottas I've seen have been my height or a few inches shorter. Janet's Carlotta acted a little older than the other Carlotta's I've seen. She also seemed to be the type of Carlotta who LOVED to put on a show for the managers to get her own way. When Raoul hit the word "Christine" in her note, she crumpled up the envelope as though she just HAD to take out her anger on something. At times, I couldn't tell whether her anger was true or whether she was just putting on a show. Or both. Whatever was the case, it was cute! She seemed to know exactly what to do to get her job (and the love of the managers) back. While the managers were trying to get Carlotta to be the Countess, she turned to Andre and put out her hand. When Firmin began to speak, she put out her other hand as if to say "Don't even *bother* talking to me! It won't work!"

Prima: At the beginning of this song, Janet put the umbrella down on the desk then took a step back, waiting for what the managers would say. After Firmin's "We need you too," he shrugged his shoulders at Andre. Too funny! Like that line was the best he could come up with. During the "Think of how they all adore you," line, *that* is when Carlotta brightened up. Her whole face lit up like a Christmas tree. At one point, Andre kissed carlotta's hand. She immediately thrust out her other hand and put it in Firmin's face until he kised it. Cute! While the managers were kissing some diva butt, Piangi had the *cutest* look on his face! The look was a cross between a "I knew she could do it!" and a "Look at her! And she's all mine!" Piangi, ever proud of his Carlotta. I don't remember much about Leigh Munro's Carlotta, except that she threw a LOT of kisses while being spun around on the chair. And Janet Coates seemed to almost throw as many. I *do* wish they would turn UP Carlottas microphone during the "The stress that falls.." bit! All I can hear is Piangi and the rest of the group, but I can NEVER hear any of the Carlottas in Toronto! Nice look of utter defiance on Carlotta at the very end of this song. I would love to talk to Janet sometime and ask her about her take on Carlotta because I can't tell what is going on in her head sometimes.

Il Muto: I LOVE the Confidante (Lisa Gaasenbeek)! Her character was just so cute to watch because she loved the audience. Carlotta was cute as well. The only time I couldn't see her face pointing towards the audience was when she was laying on the bed. Gave me the impression that this Carlotta LOVED the stage. After the Phantom made his first appearance, Janet's Carlotta looked frightened out of her wits! She acted as though she didn't know what to do. "Your part is silent" was said with such a fear of the Phantom... When she started "Poor Fool" up again, she sounded so scared during the first line. And because that line went perfectly, she seemed to settle down until the first croak. I DO miss the Music Box managers. The way they brought the ballet on was so fresh. Toronto's managers miss so many of the chances for comedy that the MB managers found. But when Andre turned to get off the stage, he ran into one ballet girl so he put his hands up a little as if to apologise. Them, with his hands still up, he turned and ran into another one. And grabbed her, um.. chest. Very cute ;)

AIAOY: My only sort of complaint about Glenda was that she likes to use her capes! I LOVE how she uses them though, somehow she knows exactly how to hold the ends of them to get the cape to flow out perfectly. Lovely! And nice to see a Raoul who can sing wonderfully! (Oops, did I already say that?) And Raoul was still the big macho guy here, trying to protect his young love.

Reprise: Paul Stanley was..either over-acting or he was just in such a state that he couldn't function. I think I'll believe the latter. He looked as though his life had just ended.

Masquerade: Andre opens up his cape before the "M. Firmin?" lines. Music Box tour, it's opened during "Prologue to a..." Carlotta was *very* happy at the party! She even seemed to be sweet while talking to other people. (I noticed Sandra was introducing Janet to one of the mannequins. And Janet seemed thrilled to meet the mannequin!) But the SECOND the Phantom came back, Carlotta was back to the first act Carlotta. Scared stiff but a little fed up with 'these things'. (By the way, from where I was, 7th row, Janet's legs looked TINY.) Paul Stanley sang his part like he was taunting the managers.

Mme Giry/Raoul: Could not get the image of Gaston out of my head! Give Raoul whatever Gaston had in BATB and that's him!

Notes II: OK! I am SICK of the fact that the Carlotta understudies do NOT have the red dresses! Are we supposed to PRETEND that we just happen to see her wearing the same dress? Or are we supposed to believe that Carlotta only owns one dress? Just give them the pretty red dress! ANYWAY, Janest threw that score nicely! If Julie Schmidt could teach Janet to whip out the fan and Janet could teach Julie to throw the score, they'd be set. It may be a Toronto thing, the way that Carlotta puts her hands up and does not touch the score as it is passed to her. I LOVE the managers in Toronto during the note reading! If you havent' seen how they make fun of Piangi trying to close his jacket, you MUST see it! They are hilarious! I think it was Andre who actually pretended he was Piangi and tried to close his jacket. Cute! Never noticed a Carlotta and Piangi stand at about a 30 degree angle from each other with their backs against each other before. I could not figure out whether or not Piangi was just doing what Carlotta was or if he actually was going to try to help. When Raoul starts to talk about his plan, Piangi was like "Oh! Yes! Good idea!" and Carlotta looked upset that PIangi was going to go along with this. Then Piangi tried to comfort her. But later, it looked like he thought the plan wasn't the best idea and started ot side with Carlotta. Maybe while they were talking (while Mme Giry was screaming out why they shouldn't try to overthrow the phantom), Carlotta talked him out of it. At the end of this scene, Piangi went over to Carlotta and she held onto his arm and kind of put him in front of her. Nice change form the usual "Carlottas all alone" thing. Don't know which way I like it better!

Sitzprobe: Carlotta's "The composer is not here" sounded like she should have added a 'duh' at the end! It was just the way she said it! The third time he tried to sing it, Piangi had this look on his face like a lightbulb went off and said "oh!" then sang the part. Carlotta was cute because while everyone else on stage was staring at Piangi, she had her nose in the score.

Wishing: Glenda Balkan has a lovely voice! The high notes, the timbre.. lovely!

Wandering: Paul Stanley's Phantom is sooo sarcastic and mocking in tone. throughout the whole show, he seemed to be mocking everyone. Never seen such a sarcastic Phantom, but it fit. I couldn't hear the "Messeiur, I fear you not" from Raoul. Maybe Richard Todd Adams (Music Box Tour) justsaid that line loudly, but I missed it here.

The almost-but-not-really death of Piangi: Missed how Julie Schmidt whipped out that fan! I never noticed before, but Sandra Margolese is dressed as a guy during this part! And, from the looks of it, a very *drunk* guy. Carlotta had the apple and was about to bite into it, then put it into the mouth of the pig instead. Cute. Another thing I missed in the Music Box tour was how Passarino grabs Carlotta from behind and hugs her.

PONR: Paul Stanley's voice was..well, I didn't notice it much. So I guess it was neither horrible nor noteworthy. When Christine took off his mask, he stopped functioning again.

Final Lair: Ok, this non-functioning thing because fo the mask started to wear thin on my nerves. He seemed to play it a BIT *waaaay* too much. I hope he decides to tone it down a little because he could do quite well if he just stopped playing the part so... big. It all comes down to a saying "Sometimes less *is* more." His singing was all right. Like I said, I didn't expect him to be able to sing like Peter, Ethan or Ciaran. And at times he correctly enunciated. But the whole effect of this scene was lost because Paul chsoe to *play* the deformity instead of use it. Glenda was wonderful, as usual. Right before the "pity" line that the phantom says, she moved forward a bit as though she was going to try and help him. When Raoul comes in, Paul said 'You have truly made my night" as though Raoul's coming is the LAST thing that he had EVER wanted. That was probably the best part he did. It was very effective because I could *tell* he did NOT want that little macho Gaston person in his lair. Glenda should teach Rebecca Pitcher how to throw that bouquet because she got a nice height AND managed to throw it pretty far. Paul threw that mannequin right TO the corner of the stage. He HIT the corner of the wall so hard, I wondered if it left a mark!

Bows: I don't usually comment on this, but felt the need to. At my Aunt's wedding to the Uncle that I hate, he grabbed my Aunt and kissed her so that she tipped over in his arms. I thought it was tacky then and I think it is tacky now. Why am I telling you all this? Because instead of the NICE kiss that Phantoms usually give Christines, Paul Stanley took the macho ego approach and did the tacky kiss I mentioned before. TACKY. (OH, did I say that word twice?) Anyway, it looked tacky. To me, it seemed like he only did it to show how macho he was to the audience. TACKY. (I have to stop typing that word!)

Stage door: My GOD how much security do they have? I walked up to the stage door and there was the normal security guy. Contrary to the usual "I'll ignroe them unless they do something wrong," he asked me who I was waiting for and my name. I know that this is only because Paul is in the building, but it did feel kinda cool to say I was waiting for Sandra and that she knew who I was. ;) (But the scurity guy did give me an odd look when I said Sandra. I think he was expecting me to say Paul Stanley!) Then I was chatting with the security guy and a police officer in a bullet proof vest came up. Does Paul Stanley being in Phantom really warrent a bullet proof vest? Apparently. (By the way, pity that poor guy, he said he was burning up in that vest!)

Well, all in all, a nice day. Go see Paul if you want to see a different take. I'd also be very interested in seeing if he does tone down that final lair scene because it could be so much better if he didn't play the deformity so much! I mean, it's one thing to be upset, but it's entirely another thing to be upset and 'hopping' around and writhing the WHOLE scene. But that could be his take on how upset the character is. Who knows?

I would like to personally say thank you to ANYONE that actually READ all four of my reviews! Hope you enjoyed them!

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