Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for supporting disability access and awareness in the Capital.
First off, I must say a massive Thank You to everyone for your feedback on the last post, the responses have been coming in thick and fast about your stories from the Royal Albert Hall - some of you have asked if it is just issues from Phantom25 access seating I am interested in, no, it isn't, any access problems you have had at the Hall, from booking tickets, communication breakdowns to the seating itself.
I did say in the last post that this one would be dedicated to some of the issues that people have been having and some of the feedback I have received from the Hall after having several long conversations with them, including one very long one at the Hall itself after the Phantom25 performance on 1st October. However, due to the amount of messages, comments, Tweets and emails I have received on this, I am delaying this post until next week so that I can edit down all the main points you have been raising, please do continue to send in your stories if you have one though.
Also promised in the previous post was more information about Access at Her Majesty's Theatre....
If you are a wheelchair or scooter user, or cannot manage stairs, then there is a side entrance on Charles II Street that has level access to the rear of the stalls and also a storage area for chairs and scooters and an accessible WC. When you arrive at the theatre, simply ask someone at FOH (usually people outside from about 30-45 minutes before a performance starts) and they will escort you around to this entrance.
There are 4 wheelchair spaces (with companion seats) in Row S in the stalls. If you can transfer then any aisle seat in the stalls can be booked (subject to availability of course!). The stalls have a relatively gentle rake with a handrail along the wall. People making an access booking are assigned an usher to assist them, although a companion must accompany each access booking made and both are entitled to the Access booking rate.
Charles II Street also has several blue badge bays along it - these are time restricted until 6.00pm but not afterwards. There are also several blue badge bays in St James' Square which is a few minutes walk away down Charles II Street.
Her Majesty's has an infra red system with 10 headsets available (a receipt needs to be signed at time of collection) - ask at the box office or any member of staff if you wish to use one. Assistance dogs can be looked after by staff during the performance - a maximum of 2 dogs per performance. Large print programmes and braille cast lists are also available upon request.
To book your access tickets for Phantom of the Opera, please call: 0844 412 4648.
Access London is delighted to share with you another cast interview in celebration of 25 years of the show. Today's interview is with Scott Davies - Scott performed as The Phantom at both Her Majesty's Theatre and on the UK tour, he is currently the Standby Phantom in London. Access London would like to say a huge Thank You to Scott for taking the time to answer some questions....
AL: How does it feel to be part of such an iconic and much-loved show as Phantom?
SD: It's amazing! I still have to pinch myself when I walk past front of house before the show and think, oh! that's me!!
AL: Why do you believe the show is so loved and has audiences returning time and again?
SD: The story is just so simple yet offers everything an audience could want. Obviously the score is beautiful too.
AL: The Phantom's character is quite volatile. How do you go about getting into role each night?
SD: The show has a really clever way of cranking up the tension so a lot of the preparation happens within the actual show. It's really exciting.
AL: I'm sure you've been asked this a lot but, what is the make up process like to go through?
SD: No problem. My Make-up artist is fab and manages to do the make up quickly and effortlessly. We get on well so it's a nice time to catch up with each other.
AL: Do you have a favourite song/scene to perform?
SD: My favourite is the final lair because it shows the real extremes of the Phantom's character.
AL: You have played The Phantom at both Her Majesty's and on the UK tour. How did these experiences differ for you?
SD: Both were great but London is better because it's nice being at home.
AL: Her Majesty's has been the long time home of Phantom since it opened and so is completely set up for it, with staging, sets and technical elements. Does this differ a great deal when the show is on tour?
SD: The sets and props are identical so no differences there. Sometimes playing a larger house though changed the intimacy of the show that is created at Her Majesty's.
AL: Having played opposite quite a few Christines, does your performance change depending on which actress is playing her?
SD: Some reactions are different but my intentions remain the same.
AL: With a show like Phantom that has so many technical elements and special effects in, do you have a tale to tell of a mishap during a performance?
SD: I went on for the final lair on tour and there was no port-cullis, no throne, no organ, no candles, nothing!! Half way through the scene I saw the throne and organ being pushed on by a broom handle!!!
AL: Lastly, do you have a Birthday Message for Phantom and its fans?
SD: Thanks for your ongoing loyalty and support. Here's to the next 25 years!!!
Once again, Thank You Scott for your time and for supporting disabled access to the arts in London. Scott is contracted as the standby Phantom until September 2012. You can also see Scott perform in the English National Opera's production of Tosca at the London Coliseum as Spoletta - performances on 26, 28, 30 November, 2 December and 17, 21, 24, 29 January, with a signed performance on 24 January. To book Access tickets (and to join the Access scheme at ENO) please call: 0871 472 0666. For all other ticket types, please call: 0871 911 0200.
If you have a story about any any Access issue at the Royal Albert Hall, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or, send me a Tweet @HorizonVA
COMING SOON: The Globe Theatre, The Lion In Winter, London Coliseum, Royal Albert Hall Access Issues, More from Phantom 25 - interviews with Sofia Escobar and more...