Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for supporting disability access and awareness to the arts in the Capital.
Many of you will already know that throughout September, Access London ran celebration posts for Phantom of the Opera's 25th Anniversary, these posts will be continuing throughout October. Today is officially Phantom's 25th Birthday, so, from Access London, a big Happy Birthday to the show and all current and former cast, crew and creatives - here's to another fabulous 25 years!
The show enjoyed a weekend of celebrations last week at the Royal Albert Hall where one of the concerts was also streamed live to cinemas across the globe on Sunday. Encore showings of this are happening throughout the next couple of months abroad, so make sure you check out your local cinema for any forthcoming showings. Those in the UK will see the dvd and cd recordings released in November.
Unfortunately for those who require disabled access and additional requirements to venues, it seems that the Royal Albert Hall most certainly did not deliver on this front to many last weekend - myself included. I have received many messages about this via email and Twitter and will be dedicating a separate post to some of the issues that people faced at the Hall this coming week. If you have a story of your own about Access at the Hall, I would very much like to hear about it - see my contact details below.
I initiated enquiries this week as to the Access failings at the Hall and these and any changes discussed will be in the next post.
On a more positive note, if you didn't make it to see the live celebrations at RAH or missed the cinema screenings, then don't forget, you can always go and see the show at its London home - Her Majesty's Theatre on the Haymarket. This theatre, I am pleased to say, is most definitely accessible and has some of the most disability aware FOH staff I have experienced at any London theatre - so thank you to everyone there!
More detailed Access information will appear in future posts but for now...Her Majesty's has level access to the rear of the stalls through a side entrance on Charles II Street. There are 4 wheelchair spaces in row S in the stalls with companion seats. If you can transfer, then you can book for any aisle seat and your wheelchair or scooter will be stored for you until the end of the performance. There is an adapted WC next to the accessible entrance/exit and wheelchair space users/transfer seats are assigned an usher to assist and order interval drinks if wished. Please see next post for more detailed explanations on seating at Her Majesty's and facilities for other disabilities.
In keeping with all of Access London's other Phantom25 posts, I'm delighted to share with you another interview with a former cast member, Rebecca Caine. Access London would like to offer a huge Thank You to Rebecca for answering some questions for us. Rebecca joined the original London cast of Phantom and then went on to repeat her role as Christine in the Canadian premiere of the show alongside Colm Wilkinson.
AL: When you joined Phantom, did you realise how big and how loved the music and story would become?
RC: I went in 6 months after it opened to alternate with Claire Moore and for a month Sarah Brightman so I wasn't quite original cast although I did perform with them.
Yes, I did realise because I had just come out of another big show, Les Mis, in which I created Cosette.
No one thought at the time either shows would run as long as they have.
AL: Have you been back to see the show since you left?
RC: Just once, when I went to see my friend Gina Beck a year ago. She was fabulous, I screamed all the way through.
AL: What was your favourite scene/song to perform?
RC: I never had a favourite but The Overture is spectacular.
AL: You played alongside Michael Crawford as The Phantom initially but which other Phantoms did you play alongside and who were your Raoul's?
RC: I opened the Canadian production opposite Colm Wilkinson who I'd worked with in Les Mis. We also recorded it. I played opposite many Phantoms including Peter Karrie.
My Raoul's were Steve Barton, Michael Ball and Byron Nease
AL: What emotions do you think Christine is feeling when she sings the song 'Wishing you were somehow here again'?
RC: I can't remember really. Sad about her father. I certainly felt it when I sang it for the first time after my father had died.
Though during my long run it was generally at that time I started wondering about what was in the fridge when I got home....
AL: You are part of the cast of The Three Phantoms. What is it like going back to sing songs you sang when Phantom first opened?
RC: Difficult to remember any of them as the BOYS will attest! I do notice I can sing them no matter how tired I am and that my body does the moves still. Muscle memory...
AL: Lastly, do you have a Birthday Message for The Phantom of the Opera and its fans?
RC: I'd like to thank ALW for my bathroom refit, Kitchen remodelling and Facelift Fund. x
Once again, a huge Thank You Rebecca, your support for access to the arts is much appreciated.
Rebecca's recordings include the original Canadian cast recording of Phantom, which is personally my favourite recording of the show (for those that have asked me recently). To hear her sing as Christine Daae, pick up you copy from Dress Circle shop or their online store. You can also hear her sing as Cosette (the role that she created) in the original London cast recording which can also be bought from Dress Circle.
Rebecca's beautiful album 'Leading Ladies' can also be purchased from Dress Circle and features her performing 17 stunning tracks including works by Gershwin, Coward and Novello.
"It was the beauty of the music that first attracted me to this repertory, but when I began looking into the women who made it famous, I became increasingly fascinated by their personalities, and the lives they led. They were among the most glamorous stars of their days, on a par with today’s movie and television celebrities.
I do not seek to impersonate them but to interpret them. Their vocal qualities are quite different, from Gertie Millar’s soubrette charm in Moonstruck to Jose Collins’s richer operatic quality in Love Will Find a Way, Gertie Lawrence’s matchless style and Jessie Matthews energy and vivacity. Mary Ellis was a "cross-over" in the truest sense of the word, having started her career at The Metropolitan Opera, singing with Caruso and Chaliapin before she became a serious actress. Evelyn Laye starred in Bitter Sweet on Broadway. Lizbeth Webb could sound like a lyric soprano one minute and a 1950’s pop singer the next. Julie Andrews needs no introduction, being the most internationally famous of all these leading ladies, having become, like Jessie Matthews before her, a great movie star and one of the last true soprano voices in musicals.
I would like to thank Gerald Martin Moore for being the guiding force behind this recording. Without his his knowledge, inspiration and encouragement, this album would have never happened.
I would also like to thank him for his vocal versatility which has given us Noel Coward, American juv lead, George Metaxa, George Guetary, Vaudeville Boy, Hooray Henry voice, four cockney costermongers and my particular favourite, Olive Gilbert.
Rebecca also performs with the Three Phantoms which is soon to start its new concert dates later this month. She is currently scheduled to perform: 21 and 22 Oct at Wales Millenium Centre, Cardiff, 4 and 5 November New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, 6 Nov Bournemouth Pavillion, 19 Nov Theatre Royal Plymouth and 10 and 11 Feb 2012 at the Chichester Festival Theatre - if you can get tickets for any of these, make sure you do for a great and entertaining night out with some top class performers!
To keep up with all of Rebecca's news and performance dates SEE HER WEBSITE
You can also follow her on Twitter @RebeccaCaine
If you would like to get in touch about any Access issues you have had at the Royal Albert Hall, you can do so via firstname.lastname@example.org
Or, contact me on Twitter @HorizonVA
To buy any of the above recordings featuring Rebecca Caine and to search the treasure trove that is Dress Circle, visit the website www.dresscircle.co.uk
COMING NEXT: Royal Albert Hall Access
COMING SOON: More Phantom 25 posts & Interviews, London Coliseum, Les Mis, The Globe