Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for continuing to support disability access and awareness to the arts in London.
Access London has been posting about Phantom of the Opera's 25th Anniversary on and off for the last 6 weeks. Today saw the final Tuesday matinee ever at Her Majesty's theatre. As of next week, the mid-week matinee will be on Thursdays at 2.30pm. There are no other changes planned for the evening performances or Saturday matinee.
It's certainly been a big few months for Phantom with a major cast change and anniversary rehearsals in September, three anniversary celebratory performances at the the Royal Albert Hall in October, changes to the schedule of its mid-week matinee and announcements about its brand new 2012 tour that will see John Owen Jones leaving Her Majesty's to don the mask from February-Setember, after which Earl Carpenter will reprise his role as the Phantom. The cast also includes current London alternate Christine, Katie Hall, playing Christine.
Our next post on Phantom will include some Access information for the first stop on the Phantom's tour, Plymouth, tickets for this venue go on sale from 27 October.
Back to London and Her Majesty's Theatre, Access as always, is pretty strong and FOH staff are some of the most helpful and disability aware I know of in any London theatre. There is level street access for those using a wheelchair, scooter or cannot manage stairs, through a side Exit door on Charles II Street - simply inform someone at the front of the theatre and they will open these doors for you. This entrance leads into the rear of the stalls.
Access Facilities at Her Majesty's include: 4 wheelchair spaces in row S in the stalls, storage for wheelchairs and scooters, transfer to aisle seats, accessible WC, gentle rake in the stalls, very helpful ushers, 2 assistance dogs per performance allowed, hearing loop with 10 headsets available, seats with extra leg room ( E1, E25, F1, F25, G1, G25, N1 and N28 in the Stalls).
For Blue Badge Holders, there are spaces located in both Charles II Street and St James' Square. Both of these locations have 3-4 hour time restrictions on them up until 6pm, after which they are unlimited in time allowance until the early morning.
To book Access tickets for Phantom of the Opera, please call: 0844 412 4648. For all other ticket types, please call: 0844 412 4653.
Access London is delighted to share with you another interview to celebrate Phantom's 25 years. Today's is with our fabulous London Christine, Sofia Escobar. We'd like to take this opportunity to say a huge Thank You once again to Sofia for taking the time to answer some questions and for all her continued support.
AL: You've just extended your contract at Phantom for another year, until September 2012, are you excited about staying on during its 25th year?
SE: Very excited indeed! I wanted to stay for what I'm sure is going to be a very exciting time for Phantom of the Opera and all the Phans out there. It's a great honour to be part of such a magnificent production!
AL: Phantom is loved by audiences worldwide - why do you think it is so well-loved and has people coming back to see it time and again?
SE: It's a timeless piece of Musical Theater, it's got all the magic ingredients that have made it such a success all over the world, the story, the music, the love! It's pure magic. I'm sure it will be here to stay!
AL: The show has some truly spectacular sets and costumes - do you have any favourites?
SE: Christine's costumes are truly gorgeous but my personal favorite is the Blue Managers dress and cloak, I'd love to take it home with me after the contract! :)
AL: Phantom is getting a new UK tour for 2012 - are you aware of any changes to the show happening in London?
SE: Not that I know of, I dont think there will be any changes to the London production.
AL: The show has many special effects and technical elements throughout. Do you have a tale to tell of something going wrong/mishap during a performance?
SE: The other night in the final lair scene the boat didn't move so Phantom had to drag me out of the boat and did the scene walking in what should have been the lake... It was quite funny!
AL: What is the atmosphere like backstage during a performance?
SE: It's intense! Everyone knows what they're doing but there's always an awful lot going on backstage during a performance, it's quite a show! Lots of people running around with costumes, props! Actors in quick changes! A lot of fun! But I'm sure that for an outsider the whole thing would seem madness!
AL: Christine has rather a roller-coaster ride of emotions throughout the show. By the time the final lair scene arrives, what do you believe she is thinking and feeling?
SE: I believe she is extremely confused, hurt, sad and generally feeling lost. She doesn't know what to believe or who to turn to, I think she also feels alone but finds the strength within her to pull through and make her decisions. It really is a roller-coaster of emotions.
AL: You have played alongside several Phantoms during your time at Her Majesty's. Do they all play the role differently? And do you have to change the way you play Christine to suit their Phantom?
SE: Every actor brings their own way of playing the part to the show and that makes it very exciting when someone new comes in. I dont necessarily 'have' to change the way I play Christine but it happens naturally because I will be reacting to whatever the actor playing the Phantom gives me. It's more of an 'organic' change rather than a premeditated one.
AL: There have been productions of Phantom all over the world. If you could play Christine anywhere, where would it be and why?
SE: To be honest I wouldn't change where I am now. I always wanted to be in the London production, this is where it all started 25 years ago. Gives me shivers to think of it.
AL: Do you have a Birthday Message for Phantom and its fans?
SE: A huge thank you to all of you who love and support the show and have been doing so all through these years. Phantom turning 25 wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for all of you out there and all the wonderful audiences who keep coming to the show all over the world. Lots of love to all!
Thank You once again Sofia for that. You can see Sofia perform as Christine Daae at Her Majesty's until September 2012. Sofia performs 6 shows a week (currently Katie Hall performs the other 2) - as of 31st October, Sofia will not be performing on Mondays or Fridays. She is also on holiday from 27th October until 6th November.
To keep up with all of Sofia's news SEE HER WEBSITE
You can also follow her on Twitter @sofia_escobar
Sofia also has a page on Facebook
COMING NEXT: Dreamboats & Petticoats plus Cast Interview
COMING SOON: The Globe, London Coliseum, The Lion In Winter, More from Phantom 25 and cast Interviews