Saturday, 10 September 2011

Phantom of the Opera's 25th Anniversary & Interview with former Christine, Myrra Malmberg

Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for supporting disability access and awareness in the Capital.

Today's post is the next in our series that is celebrating Phantom of the Opera's upcoming 25th Anniversary in the West End. Please scroll down for previous posts that include Access information to both Her Majesty's Theatre and The Royal Albert Hall.

Her Majesty's Theatre, located on The Haymarket, has great access to its stalls area which has - a fairly shallow rake, handrail along the wall, accessible WC, storage space for scooters and wheelchairs, wheelchair spaces, transfer seating and some of the most helpful staff I have known in any London theatre.

The accessible entrance is on Charles II Street and leads you straight into an area at the rear of the stalls - simply ask a member of the FOH team on arrival (there is always someone outside the front entrance before a performance) and they will escort you around to this entrance. Charles II Street also has several blue badge parking bays (after 6pm there is no time limit on these) and there are also several spaces on St James's Square.

If you are looking for other accessible attractions in the area to visit before a performance, the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery on Trafalgar Square are 5 minutes away and for younger visitors, Ripley's Believe it or Not is also a short distance away on Piccadilly Circus.

To book Access Tickets for Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's (current rate £22.50 for disabled visitor and companion/carer in the stalls!), please call: 0844 412 4648. For all other tickets for Phantom, please call: 0844 412 4653.

Since our previous post on Phantom's 25th, there has been a cast change at Her Majesty's (although several of the previous cast have remained including, John Owen Jones (The Phantom) and Sofia Escobar (Christine Daae)) - so now is a great time to go and show support for the new cast in the lead up to the anniversary date. Please note, there are no performances at Her Majesty's on Friday 30th September and Saturday 1st October 2011 because of the anniversary celebrations at The Royal Albert Hall.

It has also been announced that the anniversary will be screened to cinemas in the UK live on October 2nd 2011 and to various cinemas worldwide throughout October and November. There will also be a DVD and new CD recording released in November.

Previous posts on Phantom's Anniversary have shared interviews with former cast members including, Michael Xavier, Richard Halton and Katy Treharne, please scroll down if you wish to read these. In today's post, Access London is delighted to share with you an interview with former Christine Daae, Myrra Malmberg. Access London would like to take this opportunity to once again thank Myrra for taking the time to talk.

AL: How did you land the role of Christine Daae?
MM: I was in The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber with the wonderful conductor and composer Michael Reed who worked closely with Sir Andrew and had been Phantom's musical supervisor for years. He introduced me to the then current Musical Supervisor Anthony Inglis. One thing led to another, I auditioned for Hal Prince, and suddenly found myself on stage as Christine at Her Majesty's.

AL: Who have you played alongside as The Phantom and Raoul?
MM: My lovely Phantom was Peter Cousens. My Raoul was Mike Sterling. I was very fortunate to work with a great cast and crew, some of whom have remained close friends.

AL: In your opinion, why do you think that Phantom is the success that it is and has run for so long?
MM: Phantom is a fortunate blend of fantastic music and an intriguing plot, well directed by the amazing Hal Prince. And the late Maria Bjornson's set and costumes are visually stunning.
I think that Phantom speaks to us on many levels; you can feast your eyes and ears and leave it at that, you can flow with the romance; but you can also delve deeper into the psychology of it.

AL: What was your favourite song/scene to perform as Christine?
MM: Oh, I had several favorite scenes and songs... "Think of Me" was always a wonderful moment in the show. I enjoyed the boatride and the scene after. The handing back of the mask was a lovely moment... and the whole emotional ending. Oh, yes, and "Wishing." Happy memories!

AL: How different is it to perform on stage in London/UK to Sweden?
MM: I have performed in many different countries, and in every country the audiences have been different. I was in Italy at the Rome Opera playing Maria in West Side Story for instance and was thrilled by how very romantic the audiences were, but less thrilled by the fact that they were allowed to smoke during performances...
In Sweden, the audiences are usually less demonstrative during the performance (although thankfully non-smoking!) but then they might surprise you with a long standing ovation at the end.
In the UK, there is an theatrical tradition among the general audience that is almost palpable; I have a feeling that people have been brought up with the theatre as a part of their lives. They listen intently, you can feel them with you at every twist and turn of the plot. In the West End obviously you get a mixed crowd of international theatregoers, but I have played regional theatre in the UK as well, and think that I could also detect influences from the Panto tradition in that, once in a while, someone in the audience would yell out a comment to what was happening on stage... Not quite "It's beind you!" but not far from it...

AL: Lastly, do you have a Birthday Message for Phantom of the Opera and its fans?
MM: Happy, happy birthday! Spending a quarter of a century together is something to be treasured and celebrated!

Thank you once again to Myrra Malmberg. To keep up to date with all of Myrra's news VISIT HER WEBSITE
Myrra has released several albums already, all of which can be found on iTunes HERE
Myrra has a new album, being released on 21st September 2011, entitled "Another World".
Myrra had this to say about the soon to be released album "it is a foray into the classical crossover world, together with conductor Paul Bateman and one of Scandinavia's top orchestras: The Norrköping Symphony Orchestra. Songs by Benny Andersson (of Abba fame), Jörgen Elofsson (songwriter for Celine Dion, Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, etc), Per Magnusson (songs for Il Divo, Josh Groban, Katherine Jenkins, etc) and other wonderful composers. (Including a piece or two by myself...) I am also honored to be the first allowed to record a vocal version of Samuel Barber's Symphony for Strings opus 11."
You will be able to buy Another World from 21st September via iTunes and her website. You can listen to sounds clips right now from the new album HERE

COMING NEXT: The Tempest at Theatre Royal Haymarket
COMING SOON: Priscilla, The Globe and Exhibition, Dreamboats and Petticoats

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