Monday, 29 August 2011

Access London Celebrates Phantom of the Opera's 25th Anniversary - Interview with Katy Treharne

Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for your continued support for Disability Access and Awareness in the Capital.

Today's post continues on with our popular series about Phantom of the Opera's upcoming 25th Anniversary in October. In previous posts we have looked at the access at Her Majesty's theatre and also the access and disabled facilities at the Royal Albert Hall where the celebration concerts are being held on the 1st and 2nd October 2011.

As mentioned before, the public tickets for the celebration concerts have unfortunately sold out but you can still celebrate this iconic and beautiful show by watching it at Her Majesty's Theatre on the Haymarket. The show's current cast see's John Owen Jones playing The Phantom and Sofia Escobar playing Christine Daae.

The Haymarket main entrance to Her Majesty's does have several steps up into the foyer. However, if you notify a member of the front of house team (there is always someone outside from about 45 minutes before the start of a show) then they will escort you round to the level, accessible entrance on Charles II Street. This entrance leads straight into an area at the rear of the stalls (there is also an accessible toilet in this area).

If you have booked a wheelchair bay then a member of staff will show you to your space. If, on the other hand, you have booked to transfer into a seat then you will be escorted to your seat - your wheelchair or scooter will then be taken to a storage area at the back of the stalls and brought back to you at the interval or end of the show. You can also arrange to have interval drinks brought to you at your seat.

To book Access Tickets for Phantom, please call 0844 412 4648. For all other tickets types and bookings, please call 0844 412 4653:

If you are a Blue Badge holder and are driving to the theatre then there are a couple of Blue Badge spaces on Charles II Street and also on St James' Square that is at the end of Charles II Street. Suffolk Street and Waterloo Place also have disabled parking available. Many of the blue badge parking bays in London have time limits on them during the day - however, most of these expire past 6pm, so for evening performances at the theatre, you are fine to park in them all evening.

Please remember that Westminster Council does not allow most parking on Single and Double Yellow lines for blue badge holders.

For a map of blue badge parking spaces in the area around Her Majesty's Theatre and the Haymarket, please see THIS SITE

Along with all the access information and advice on Her Majesty's Theatre and the Royal Albert Hall, Access London is proud and honoured to bring you interviews with current and former cast members of Phantom. In this special series, previous interviews have seen former Raoul, Michael Xavier and former Phantom, Richard Halton share their responses with us.

For today's post, Access London is pleased to present an interview with Katy Treharne - a current cast member in Phantom, playing The Princess in Hannibal and understudy for Christine Daae. Access London would like to take this opportunity to once again say a big Thank You to Katy for taking the time out to answer our questions.....

AL: Phantom marks your West End debut. What did it feel like when you first stepped out onto the West End stage?
KT: The first time I went out and performed my ensemble role was the most nerve-wracking but amazing moments. It all was a bit hazy as we were in rehearsals for four weeks and then we opened and it all seemed too sudden.

AL: How did you audition and land the part in Phantom?
KT: I got an audition through my agent and I was extremely lucky to get the part straight from college. I felt really honoured that they took a chance on me as they didn't know anything about me and I hadn't worked professionally before.

AL: Phantom's such an iconic show. How does it feel to be a part of this phenomenon?
KT: Being part of such an iconic show makes you feel part of it's history. When you meet the "PHans" at stage door and they tell you how man times they've been to see the show and how much they still love it, it makes you realise what a beautiful piece of theatre it is and also, with shows in the West End closing and Phantom is approaching its 25 Anniversary you can feel proud to be a part of it.

AL: You play the Princess in Hannibal among other parts in the show. What is the atmosphere like backstage with everyone dashing about?
KT: The atmosphere at the beginning of the show is something special. When the audience are watching the chandelier rise with the brilliant orchestra playing everyone's rushing back and forth the stage getting changed and into position. That moment gives me goosebumps.

AL: You understudy for the female lead Christine Daae. Have you had many chances to perform this in front of an audience, what was it like?
KT: I have been one of the luckiest understudies in the West End as in the two years I have been in Phantom I have performed Christine, to date, over 90 times. It would be incredible by the time I leave to reach 100 shows but I won't be disappointed if not as I have had so many wonderful receptions from the audiences I have performed to.

AL: In your opinion, why is Phantom of the Opera so well loved and brings back audiences time and again?
KT: It is such a tragic love story, I think everyone can relate to the main characters. The music is very beautiful and audiences nowadays know all the songs, whereas you can go to a new musical and there could only be one or two recognisable songs. The sets and costumes are also iconic and a lot of effort is put into the show as a whole.

AL: The production has some amazing costumes and sets. Have you got any favourites?
KT: Talking of costumes and sets there are so many wonderful costumes. My favourite Christine costume is the Blue Managers costume as it is so period and I love the colour blue and the design of the dress is so flattering.
Maria's set designs are so well planned. I was lucky enough to visit the Opera House in Paris and I realised how she had captured the true essence of the opera house and brought it to the stage. I stood on the real steps and got quite chocked up.

AL: What is your favourite part to perform in the show?
KT: When I'm on as Christine, my favourite scene is the Final Lair with Phantom and Raoul. This scene is Christine's pivotal moment that she flits back to the Phantom and tries to show him that there is goodness and love in the world. The build up to the kiss is a very passionate scene and you can really show a different side to Christine.

AL: If you could play any role(s) in musical theatre what would it/they be?
KT: There are so many roles that I would love to do. I'd love to be Cosette in Les Mis, and also Maria in West Side Story. Gershwin is a genius and the vocal parts he has written are just perfect for the voice.

AL: Do you have a Birthday message for Phantom and its fans?
KT: I hope that all the fans really support the big birthday plans for Phantom in October, I don't know any details myself, but there is a huge opportunity to show the world what an amazing show Phantom is.

Katy will be appearing at Her Majesty's until Saturday 3rd Spetember 2011, when there will be a large cast change, if you can get there to see her before then, please do, and support the show and Katy. Wishing you all the best for the future Katy.
Katy will also be appearing in the Phantom 25th Anniversary Concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. To keep up to date with her news, you can follw her on Twitter @katy_tre

Friday, 26 August 2011

The London O2 - Batman Live Arena Tour

Welcome back to Access London and thank you once again for your continued support for disability access and awareness in the Capital.

Today's post is dedicated to Batman Live! - a spectacular, stunt-filled extravaganza that has been hitting arenas around the UK. It is currently at the O2 Arena in London until the 4th September 2011.

The show features all the major characters from the famous comic book series including: The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, The Scarecrow, Two-Face, Lt Gordon, Robin and of course Batman himself, aka Bruce Wayne. Joining them on the stage are some really impressive set pieces that include, Gotham City, The Batmobile and even a hot air balloon!

Following the story of the loss of Robin's parents at the circus they worked at and the subsequent friendship between him and Batman, the story includes as many highlights as is possible in a 2 hour show. Although, in my opinion, it isn't really the story that is the reason to see this show but the amazing acrobatics and stunt work that is involved from beginning to end.

The screen that is used as the backdrop to the set is also very impressive and spectacularly used throughout - allowing the audience to be transported from the streets of Gotham city to the depths of the Batcave to the circus and asylum in a good old fashioned comic book fashion.

The show is running at The O2 Arena in London until the 4th September when it then moves onto Liverpool, Nottingham, Dublin and Belfast. The O2 has a dedicated Access Booking Line that can be used to book all events at the Arena. To book Access tickets for Batman Live, please call: 020 8463 3359. For all other ticket enquiries, please call: 020 8463 2000 or BOOK ONLINE

There is plenty of car parking available at The O2 and for disabled parking, you can book a dedicated disabled bay when you book your event tickets, just ask for details. From the car park's disabled bays, you need to cross a small O2 internal road and then it is a short journey to the entrance.

We found all the staff to be very helpful with wheelchair and scooter users and happy to help. There are dedicated wheelchair areas in Block 101 at the Arena, right next to the stage, so you have fantastic, close-up views of the show. When you book a wheelchair or scooter ticket, you are actually reserving a space in this area and not a specific location, so you will not receive a seat number, although the whole section is in clear view of the stage anyway. There are two ramps to access this area and event staff are always nearby throughout the show if you need any help.

Photographs can be taken throughout the show but, PLEASE TURN THE FLASH OFF AS THIS IS VERY OFF-PUTTING FOR THE CAST, especially when they are performing stunts.

All in all, an enjoyable night out for kids of all ages!!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Access London Celebrates Phantom of the Opera's 25th Anniversary

Welcome back to Access London and thank you once again for your continued support for disability access and awareness in the Capital.

Last week, Access London launched the first in its series of special posts to celebrate Phantom of the Opera's forthcoming 25th Anniversary this October. The last post highlighted the fabulous access to Her Majesty's Theatre, on London's Haymarket, that is home to Phantom.

Her Majesty's Theatre has level access to its stalls from street level, through a side door on Charles II Street. In my experience, Her Majesty's has some of the most helpful and attentive FOH staff, ready to assist those with disabilities. Those with a disability can qualify for the special Access Rate to see the show: Access tickets can be booked through the See Tickets Agent on their dedicated Access Line: 0844 412 4648. For all other ticket types for the show, please call: 0844 412 4653.

For more details on the Access at Her Majesty's, please see our previous post.

Phantom is celebrating its 25th Anniversary with several concerts being held at The Royal Albert Hall on the 1st and 2nd October 2011. Unfortunately, the public tickets for these events have now sold out but you can still enjoy the magic of Phantom by watching the London performance at Her Majesty's Theatre - the current cast sees John Owen Jones as The Phantom and Sofia Escobar as Christine Daae.

For those who did manage to buy tickets for one of the concert performances, the Royal Albert Hall has many facilities to cater for its disabled visitors. Ramped access to the hall is located at Doors 1, 3, 8, 9 and 12. Public lifts are located at Doors 1 and 8 and serve all levels from Basement to Gallery. The Arena Foyer bars can be accessed via a platform lift from the Basement level at Door 1.

There are fourteen wheelchair spaces, with adjacent companion seats, situated in the Stalls at Ground floor level. There are also six wheelchair spaces in the Circle at sections P, R, V and X and four spaces within the unreserved standing area of the Gallery. Many concerts and performances at the hall (including Phantom's 25th concerts) allow free entry to a carer/companion for each disabled visitor.

The hall has several wheelchairs onsite that can be reserved by disabled visitors to use throughout their visit. There are accessible facilities on each level of the hall. The hall also has 10 Blue Badge parking spaces that can be booked in advance and used for free during your visit. For all access enquiries (tickets, wheelchair loan and parking spaces), please call the hall's dedicated Access Booking Line on 020 7070 4410.

The Royal Albert Hall also has a service called 'Access List' that allows disabled visitors to join, for free, and register their needs in order to make booking access tickets an even smoother process. For more details on this service, please call the Access Booking Line on 020 7070 4410.

Our previous post on Phantom's 25th Anniversary Celebrations included an extremely popular interview with former Roaul, Michael Xavier. Access London is delighted to now share another interview with a former cast member with you - Richard Halton. Access London would like to take this opportunity to once again thank Mr Halton very much for taking the time to answer our questions and support disability access and awareness.

"Between 1997 and 2003 Richard spent much of his time at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London’s West End. He first played the part of Monsieur André, a role he enjoyed for a total of two years before becoming the walking cover of The Phantom in 1999.
Overall, he had the pleasure of performing Erik over 100 times."

AL: You joined the cast of Phantom after it had been running for over 10 years. How did it feel to be part of such an iconic and much-loved show?
RH: To be part of such a truly great production like Phantom ranks right up there as one of the highlights of my career.

AL: You played both the roles of Monsieur Andre and The Phantom, how did this come about?
RH: When I came back to the show in 1999, Cameron offered me Andre with 2nd cover Phantom, so it was a no-brainer to accept really!

AL: Who has played opposite you as Christine and Raoul?
RH: Christines - Myrra Malmberg, Meredith Braun, Debbie Dutcher, Charlotte Page, Celia Graham, Claire Hammacott, Jo Pullen, AJ Callaghan. Raouls - Mike Sterling, Gardar Thor Cortes, Matt Cammelle, Robert Finlayson.

AL: What was your favourite song or scene to perform as Andre and then as Phantom?
RH: My favourite scene as Andre was Prima Donna and my favourites as Phantom were the 1st Journey (in the boat) and Music of the Night.

AL: You have performed in many operas and West End productions, which are closest to your heart?
RH: Favourite roles and productions close to my heart are - Ravenal (Showboat), Onegin Guglielmo (Cosi), Marcello (Boheme) and of course Phantom!

AL: Do you have a Birthday Wish for Phantom and its fans?
RH: My Birthday Message to the Phantom of the Opera cast, crew and fans - Many congrats, a quarter of a century and still going strong. Here's to the next 25! x

Once again, a huge Thank You to Richard for answering our questions. To keep up to date with Richard's news you can VISIT HIS WEBSITE HERE
You can also follow him on Twitter at @richiehalton

To keep up to date with all of Access London's posts, you can follow this blog or follow us on Twitter at @HorizonVA

There is lots more to come on Phantom's 25th Anniversary Celebrations, including lots more interviews with current and former cast members - up next, current cast member and Christine Understudy.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Natural History Museum - Age of the Dinosaurs

Welcome back to Access London and thank you once again for your continued support for disability access and awareness in the Capital.

As we are nearing the end of the school summer holidays in the UK, this is an additional post this week for those looking for something to do as a family over the next couple of weeks.

The Natural History Museum is located in South Kensington and has an enormous permanent collection of interesting and fun objects, with interactive activities, cafes and shops. This year has also seen a very popular exhibition at the museum - Age of the Dinosaurs.

This exhibition is due to close on the 4th September 2011 and so now is the perfect time to go and visit the museum to enjoy this and the permanent collection before the new school term starts. Although the museum does have a permanent collection on dinosaurs including, fossils, models and animatronics, this special exhibition takes you on a journey through the time of the dinosaurs and includes lots of interactive fun for the whole family. It also has animatronic dinosaurs and objects to see, touch and hear, all 'fangtastic' fun!

The exhibition is open from 10am until 6pm everyday and you can book tickets at the museum's information desk or online via the museum's website HERE

Ticket prices are £10 for adults, £6 for children and concessions (including students and disabled visitors), £28 for a family ticket and also 1 companion/carer can enter for free with every disabled visitor.

The exhibition is fully accessible for those using a wheelchair or mobility scooter. There are wide pathways leading around the route of the exhibition and all the cases are at a height visible to those using a wheelchair. There are a couple of places throughout the exhibition where forest and jungle scenes have been recreated with dinosaurs in - these are fully accessible but are quite dark inside. The paths are all clearly marked though and fully accessible with just a couple of gentle slopes.

The museum itself has its main entrance on the Cromwell Road. However, this entrance has many steps leading up to it. For the accessible and step-free entrance, please use the Exhibition Road entrance that has a level access foyer and lift up to the main exhibition level. The cafes are access friendly and there are accessible facilities onsite. For any questions relating to access, please call the museum's information line on: 020 7942 5839.

The museum also has several wheelchairs that it can loan to visitors for the duration of their visit, to book one, please call the customer service line on:
020 7942 5839. There is also a limited amount of disabled blue badge parking onsite. Due to road works that are currently being carried out on Exhibition Road, these spaces are slightly more limited so it is best to ring in advance to book one on:
020 7942 5888.

Although the Age of the Dinosaurs is a paid exhibition, you can visit the permanent dinosaur collection, or any of the museum's other permanent collections for free everyday.

COMING SOON: South Pacific, The Tempest, Phantom of the Opera's 25th Celebrations

Friday, 19 August 2011

Access London - Theatre Update

Welcome back to Access London and thank you once again for your continued support for disability access and awareness in the Capital. Firstly, thank you for all your lovely messages about my previous post on Phantom's 25th and the interview with former Raoul, Michael Xavier. If I haven't already replied to you, I'm really sorry and I will reply asap. Lots more to come on that and lots more exciting interviews too.

Today's post is one of Access London's regular theatre updates. Just to remind all readers that The Lincoln Center Theater's production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical South Pacific has opened at The Barbican. Currently finishing its first week of previews, the show has opened with great success.

I saw the show this week and will bring a longer and fuller post next week, including a cast interview.

Until then, please book your Access tickets as soon as possible as they are selling very quickly. The Barbican has its own Access Scheme which is free to join and you are able to register your details with your specific needs (wheelchair or scooter user, hard of hearing, unable to manage stairs etc) and they can then help find the best seats for your needs. The wheelchair and scooter accessible bays are at the back of the stalls but because of the height of the venue and the steps (rather than rake) down the stalls, the view is completely clear and you really don't feel very far from the stage at all.

Each wheelchair or scooter space comes with an additional chair for a companion or carer, who can buy their ticket at the same amazing Access Rate as you. The staff are all incredibly helpful at The Barbican and happy to assist. I would suggest however that if you are unsure of whether or not you may need to use a wheelchair, if you are not a full-time user, then on this occasion perhaps you should. The Barbican is a very large venue and although the Access is all very good and there are lifts to all levels, bars and facilities, it can be a fair walk from the car parks or drop-off points.

Joining the Access Scheme also allows blue badge holders to park for free in The Barbican's car parks - simply take your Access theatre ticket to the box office on arrival and they will provide you with a free ticket to get out of the car park after the show.

To book tickets for both Access and regular seats, please call the box office on: 020 7638 8891. To register for the Access scheme you can either phone the box office or complete the form online HERE

September will see the opening of The Belle's Stratagem at The Southwark Playhouse, near London Bridge. The Red Handed Theatre Company's production of this play runs from 6th September until 1st October 2011. There will be performances Monday-Saturday at 7.45pm and a matinee performance on Saturdays at 3.15pm.

"London, 1780. And it’s marriage season. But one group of wily women are determined to challenge the status quo.

Young Letitia Hardy is shocked when her fiancée returns from the Continent convinced that English women are dull. Defying convention, she sets out to gain his love with an ingenious scheme to prove him wrong.

Meanwhile, Sir George is trying desperately to protect his wife from the evils of high society. He hasn’t counted however on two of London’s most rambunctious wits, Miss Ogle and Mrs Rackett, making it their mission to convert her into a lady of fashion.

One of the most popular plays of its time, The Belle’s Stratagem, has not been performed in over a century."

Directed by Jessica Swale, The Belle's Stratagem has a fabulous cast of 16 and stars the talented Gina Beck.

There is level Access in the theatre and dedicated wheelchair spaces and accessible facilities. There is also the opportunity to transfer to a seat too. The Southwark Playhouse' Access policy allows a companion/carer to go in for free when accompanying a disabled visitor. Tickets for this production start from only £10.

To book both Access and regular tickets for this exciting new prodcution, please call the box office on 020 7407 0234. For any Access queries, please email

COMING SOON: South Pacific, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Tempest, Natural History Museum

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Access London Celebrates Phantom of the Opera's 25th Anniversary

Welcome back to Access London and thank you once again for your continued support for disability access and awareness in the Capital.

Today's post is a special one as it marks the first in a series that Access London is devoting to the worldwide phenomenon that is Phantom of the Opera and the celebrations surrounding its 25th Anniversary on the West End stage this Autumn.

As you may have read in previous posts on Phantom from Access London, its West End home is at Her Majesty's Theatre on the Haymarket (5 minutes from Leicester Sq and Piccadilly Circus). This has been the Phantom's home since it first opened on the 9th October 1986 and has been playing to a packed house ever since then.

The role of the Phantom was originally played by Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman played opposite him as Christine Daae. Since then, many 'Phantastically' talented performers have donned the famous mask to play the mysterious character of the Phantom and they have been joined by equally stunning performers taking on the roles of Christine Daae, Raoul Vicomte de Chagny, Madame Giry, Meg Giry, Carlotta, Piangi, the suffering Theatre Managers and other cast members.

Her Majesty's theatre, although being an old and majestic building, has put many measures in place to make sure that the show is accessible to as many as possible. There is a level entrance on Charles II Street that gives you Access into the stalls area, an accessible toilet, an usher to take care of disabled guests during their time in the theatre (including fetching interval drinks and programmes), dedicated wheelchair spaces or the opportunity to transfer into aisle seats whilst your wheelchair or scooter is stored away for you and a fabulous Access Rate that allows disabled visitors to watch the show at a fraction of the cost of a normal-priced seat in the stalls.

As mentioned above, this year marks Phantom's 25th Anniversay and to commemorate this landmark occasion, several concerts are to be staged at The Royal Albert Hall in celebration. Ramin Karimloo will be donning the mask once more to play the titular role whilst, Sierra Boggess will star as Christine Daae - both performers shared the stage together for a year playing The Phantom and Christine Daae in the Phantom sequel, Love Never Dies recently.

There are to be 3 shows of this fully staged concert: 1st October 7.30pm, 2nd October 1.30pm and 7.00pm. All public tickets for these shows have now sold out but you can still enjoy and celebrate Phantom's 25 years by watching the show at Her Majesty's that still plays 8 times a week - Monday to Saturday evenings and matinee performances on a Tuesday and Saturday. The show currently stars John Owen Jones as The Phantom, Sofia Escobar as Christine and Will Barrett as Raoul. Access London does have tickets to one of the celebration concerts and will have more posts about the event and Access at the Hall in forthcoming posts.

To book Access tickets to see Phantom at Her Majesty's, please call: 0844 412 4648 For all other ticket types for the show, please call: 0844 412 4653

For those who were unable to get tickets to the concerts or live too far away to attend, Access London is celebrating the event by sharing with our readers interviews with many current and former cast members from Phantom and some original cast members too. We will post more about the show, its background and story in forthcoming posts, so keep an eye out for them (or 'follow' this blog). In the meantime, we are going to kick off with our first interview with former Raoul - Mr Michael Xavier. Access London would like to take this opportunity to once again thank Michael for taking the time to answer our questions and help to support Access London and disability access and awareness.

AL: How did you land the part of Raoul?
MX: I auditioned for the role of Raoul whilst playing Sky in Mamma Mia and was very fortunate to get the role just 2 weeks after I finished Mamma Mia. Timing is everything in this industry!

AL: You joined the cast of Phantom after it had been running for over 20 years. How did it feel to be part of such an iconic and much loved show?
MX: It's always quite scary to play a role in a show that's been running for many years let alone a show that is so universally known as Phantom. You want to serve the story and present the character in the most truthful light but you're always aware that some people may not enjoy your interpretation. That can be tough. However, to play such an iconic role is thrilling! I saw the show when I was only 15 and never would have dreamed to have been playing the role roughly ten years later.

AL: In your opinion, why do you think that audiences fall in love with the story and come to see it time and again?
MX: The story is brilliantly universal! The notion of being misunderstood and different I believe resonates very powerfully in everyone no matter how popular you believe you are. And the idea that love permeates the heart beyond superficiality is both true and wonderfully romantic. People want to know that no matter who you are and what you look like (in this media and aesthetic-obsessed world), you can be loved. That is why audiences love it and come back time and again!

AL: Who were the Phantom(s) and Christine(s) that you played opposite?
MX: I played opposite Earl Carpenter as The Phantom (and Ramin Karimloo as the understudy). Christine was played initially by Celia Graham and Katie Knight-Adams then Robyn North and Leila Benn Harris came in to take over after 6 months. The understudy was Tabitha Webb but I did do a few shows with Rachel Barrell.

AL: What was your favourite song/scene to perform in the show?
MX: My favourite song was All I Ask Of You as it's such a beautiful melody and intense scene. My favourite scene was the final lair. However, I did love jumping through the stage from the bridge. A nice adrenaline rush every night!

AL: Phantom is full of special effects and technical elements - have you got a tale to tell of a mishap during a show?
MX: Oh probably, but my memory is awful! Ah yes, it's all coming back to me now. I used to get hit quite often with the fireballs from the phantom's staff and I'm surprised my head never caught fire with the amount of hairspray I had on! Also, I used to crack my elbow on the side of the trap door I had to jump through on a regular basis. I had some lovely bruises to show off!

AL: If you could play any role(s) in musical theatre, what would it/they be?
MX: If I could play any role in Musical Theatre it would probably be Sweeney Todd. It's so brilliantly written and has so much depth and darkness to the character which is different from other roles I've played.

AL: Lastly, do you have a Birthday Message for Phantom of the Opera and its fans?
MX: Yes, I'm thrilled that The Phantom Of The Opera is still running and still drawing in attention from around the world. It's a beautiful story and wonderful score. It is a musical theatre institution in itself. Congratulations on 25 fabulous years! To the fans, I'd like to say thank you for all your support and enthusiasm over the years. Without you it would no longer be running. You have kept a fantastic show alive! Bravo!

We hope you enjoyed reading Michael's responses as much as we did. Stay tuned for more interviews with the Phantom cast over the next couple of months.
In the meantime, if you would like to keep up to date with Michael's latest news, performances and also news about his forthcoming album PLEASE VISIT HIS WEBSITE You can also Follow Michael on Twitter at @michaelxavierMX and Befriend him on Facebook at Michael Xavier

Our next Access London Phantom 25th interview will be with a former Phantom, so keep an eye out for this coming soon.
You can follow Access London updates on Twitter by following @HorizonVA

Friday, 12 August 2011

Access London - Cavendish Hotel Competition Update

Welcome back to Access London everyone. This is an update post on some more details relating to The Cavendish Hotel's Cocktail Competition and the brilliant West End show, Love Never Dies.

Earlier this week I posted another post about Access London's recommended hotel for 2011 - The Cavendish. In celebration of the Jermyn Street Festival - The Art of Being British - being held along Jermyn Street on Saturday 10th September 2011, The Cavendish have launched a fantastic competition with an amazing prize to be won.

You can read more about the Festival on my previous post.

The Cavendish are asking people to email in with your own creation for a cocktail. The cocktail is to be served alongside their own new Very British creation, The Red Rosa, throughout September in their bar. All you have to do, is come up with a cocktail of your own to complement it and then send the cocktail recipe and cocktail name to: by Wednesday 24th August.

The winner will win a 2 night stay in one of The Luxurious Cavendish Hotel's Junior Suites with afternoon tea for two, your cocktail creation on the bar menu throughout September and of course you get to try your own cocktail too.

The update details are as follows: The prize (2 night stay) can be booked anytime up until the 31st March 2012 (excluding 31st December 2011). Also, for all my readers with disabilities, including wheelchair and mobility sccoter users and those who cannot manage stairs, the Cavendish are happy to book an Accessible Room or Executive Room for you instead. They have also assured me that they will do something a little bit extra special for these guests as the location of the Junior Suites may not be suitable for them.

To see more about The Cavendish VISIT THEIR WEBSITE HERE

In other news, just a quick update to remind you all that sadly Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera sequel, 'Love Never Dies' will be closing in London in just 2 weeks time!! Access London went to see the show again last Friday and, as always, had a 'Phabulous' night out. The show has a beautiful score and lyrics, fantastic costumes and sets and a truly amazing cast, led by Ramin Karimloo and Celia Graham. Both the leads have a 'Phantastic' onstage chemistry and Miss Graham's 'Love Never Dies' won't fail to bring a tear to your eye and applauding for more. Mr Karimloo's 'Till I Hear You Sing' has, if possible, only got better since the show opened. The whole cast work wonderfully together on stage and it will be a loss to the West End when they close.

To book Access tickets to the show, please call: 0844 412 4648
OR, for all other tickets, please call: 0844 412 4651

Access London would like to take this opportunity to thank all the cast and creatives for all their hard work and wonderful performances and add a special thank you to Kieran Brown and Daniel Gourlay who both took time out for interviews with Access London a couple of months ago (please see previous posts to read these). Lastly, a big thank you to Ramin, Celia, Hayley, Adam and Liz for taking the time to stop and talk and for pictures at the stage door last week - your support for Access London is also heart-warming and very much appreciated, Thank You x

COMING NEXT: Access London Begins Celebrations for Phantom of the Opera's 25th Anniversary - Interview with former Raoul, Michael Xavier

Monday, 8 August 2011

The Cavendish Hotel Cocktail Competition & The Art Of Being British

Welcome back to Access London and thank you once again for your continued support in promoting disability access and awareness in the Capital.

Today's post announces a special competition from Access London's recommended hotel for 2011 - The Cavendish, St James's. Access London has posted many posts over the last year on The Cavendish including room tours, dinner, pre-theatre menus, Access information and much more - to read more about the hotel, please see our previous posts on it.

This September sees the return of The Art of Being British Festival to Jermyn Street, St James's on Saturday 10th September 12 noon to 5pm. After a very successful festival in 2010, the businesses along Jermyn Street and around St James's are returning for 2011.

The event boasts "some of the finest British fashion and lifestyle brands participating in a traffic free event that is packed with eccentric Britishness, unique presentations and engaging activities". The event takes place along the full length of Jermyn Street, just a 2 minute walk from Piccadilly Circus. It is hosted by The Crown Estate and the Jermyn Street Association.

The event will feature presentations from leading tailors, shirt and shoe makers, chefs, fine goods and food and wine retailers. There will also be a catwalk that will showcase several shows throughout the day, readings inside Waterstones bookshop, sports cars on display, interviews, world record attempts, cheese and wine demonstrations, all-day brunch and The Ritz will be hosting dance classes and demonstrations throughout the day and evening. St James's Church will be holding a mini fete and The Cavendish Hotel will be serving a charity hog roast (back by popular demand from last year) with all donations going to St James's Church.

This is an event suitable for the whole family and for those with disabilities and/or using a wheelchair or mobility scooter as Jermyn Street is closed to road traffic for the day. There is step free Access to both St James's Church and Waterstones from the Piccadilly entrances.

As well as serving a delicious hog roast from outside its Jermyn Street entrance, The Cavendish have also created a competition in the lead up to this event and one that you won't want to miss out on!

The Cavendish has created a new cocktail, the Red Rosa, to mark the Art of Being British and is challenging aspiring mixologists to create a cocktail of their own to complement it. To be in with a chance of winning, simply send your cocktail idea, recipe and name to by Wednesday 24 August 2011.

The winning cocktail will be available, along with the Red Rosa, at The Cavendish throughout September.

The lucky winner will enjoy a weekend's stay in a Junior Suite, with afternoon tea and of course get to taste their own cocktail creation which will feature on the bar menu during September 2011.

The Red Rosa cocktail was inspired by Rosa Lewis, the celebrity chef of her time and the hotel's most famous owner. The cocktail is made with freshly muddled strawberries, grenadine syrup, Cointreau and elderflower cordial.

So what will your Essentially British cocktail be? - don't forget to post your entries to by Wednesday 24 August 2011 to be in with the chance to win this fabulous prize.

For more information about the competition and about The Cavendish PLEASE CHECK OUT THEIR WEBSITE or THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE

COMING NEXT: Access London Celebrates Phantom of the Opera's 25th Anniversary with the first in a series of posts containing current and former cast interviews - first up, the fabulous Michael Xavier.
COMING SOON: The Natural History Museum - Dinosaur Exhibition

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The London Eye

Welcome back to Access London, thank you once again for your continued support for disability access and awareness in the Capital.

Today's post features one of London's most striking pieces of architecture - The London Eye. The London Eye is currently the world's largest observation wheel, standing at 135m high and rotating 32 capsules. It is located on the bank of the River Thames, just outside County Hall and opposite The Houses of Parliament.

The London Eye offers spectacular views over London, some of its most famous attractions and off into the surrounding counties. The London Eye offers many special deals such as the Pimm's Experience or the Champagne Experience. You can hire one of the capsules for special events or partys too!

The London Eye opperates between 10am and 9pm daily. You can queue and buy tickets on the day but for the best price and chance of getting on at the time you want, I advise you to pre-book on the official website. You can also book a combined ticket for the London Eye and London Eye River Cruise - the cruise will be featured in its own post coming soon.

If you pre-book ticekts, they need to be collected from inside County Hall, just opposite the Eye itself. The Hall has disabled access via a ramped walkway. You can also see the new 4D Experience inside County Hall which is included in your ticket price and worth seeing.

The Eye itself is completely accessible to those using a wheelchair or mobility sccoter. There are ramped walkways that take you up to the Eye itself. Once there the staff use a portable ramp so that wheelchairs/mobility scooters can get into the capsule. The Eye is actually stopped to allow safe access for disabled visitors. The capsules themselves are glass therefore whatever height you are sitting at, you will have unobstructed views across the river and city. Guide dogs are allowed onto the Eye.

There is a concession price of £15 for disabled adults and 1 carer/companion can go on for free for every disabled visitor. There are further concessions for disabled children and seniors. The regular price for adults is £18 and £9 for children.

There is a dedicated Access Line at the London Eye: 0871 222 0188 which is open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.

To book tickets online visit The London Eye Website

This is one London attraction not to be missed and is a great experience for the whole family to enjoy!