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 AndrĂ©, 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.

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