Thursday, 20 October 2011

Phantom of the Opera's 25th Anniversary & Interview with Original Meg Giry, Janet Devenish

Welcome back to Access London and thank you for continuing to support disability access and awareness to the arts in London.

Continuing with Access London's celebrations for Phantom of the Opera's 25th Anniversary and the brilliant Access at Her Majesty's theatre, today saw the release of the 2012 tour information. The 2012 tour will star John Owen Jones (the current London Phantom) in the lead role from the tour's start in February (Plymouth) until half way through the Edinburgh run in September. After this, former Phantom and co Three Phantoms star, Earl Carpenter, will take over the role on tour. Christine is to be played by the current London alternate, Katie Hall. Access London would like to take this opportunity to wish John Owen Jones, Earl Carpenter and Katie Hall all the very best for the tour next year!

For all the information on dates and booking info, please see the OFFICIAL SITE HERE

Although Access London predominately focuses on events and venues in London, we will be providing readers with as much Access information as we can on the venues hosting the 2012 tour as we realise that not everyone can make the journey to London to enjoy the show at Her Majesty's.

John Owen Jones was originally scheduled to play the Phantom in London until 17 March 2012. Due to the exciting news that he will be playing the role in the tour, his final performance at Her Majesty's Theatre will be on 10 December 2011. Between then and March 2012, Earl Carpenter will play the role of the Phantom in London until Peter Joback takes over, as originally planned, in March. Watch this space for more Access info on the tour venues.

John Owen Jones has also announced that his new album will be released around the same time that the tour commences.
You can also catch Earl Carpenter, John Owen Jones, Matthew Cammelle, Rebecca Caine (and at certain performances Rohan Tickell) in the Three Phantoms concerts. For concert dates and booking information, see the OFFICIAL THREE PHANTOMS WEBSITE

If you can't get to any of the tour dates next year, don't forget, you can always watch the original show in London at Her Majesty's theatre. Access information for this theatre is as follows....

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. 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 be able to share with you another interview we did with a former cast member for the show. Today's interview is with Janet Devenish who was the original Meg Giry in the London production. We'd like to take this opportunity to once again say a huge thank you to Janet for takign the time to answer some questions.

Phantom was very different to any other productions that opened in the 80s. Did you have any idea at the time how well loved and huge it would become?
Not at all! Really - I could see it was a great show but I did not foresee how hugely popular it would become.

Were you required to be pretty skilled at ballet in order to audition for the role of Meg?
Yes - there was a lot of pointe work in the show and you cannot gain that skill overnight. I did a lot of work with Gillian Lynne during the audition process which confirmed my ballet skills and I loved it!

What was your favourite scene to perform in the production?
I loved dancing Masquerade, but I also loved working with the wonderful Mary Millar as my mother - so any time on stage with her was special time.

Have you seen the show since you left? If yes, has it changed much since you performed in it?
I have seen it few times, and each time it has been different. I think it has varied depending on the cast, but I was not aware of huge changes that had been made to the actual content of the show.

Would you ever have considered going back to Phantom after you left, perhaps as Mme Giry?
If only my vocals would allow.... I could not sing that role, but I could bang a mean stick!

I understand that you now teach and choreograph but, do you still perform aswell?
No - I train the talent of tomorrow!

Did you seen the Phantom sequel, Love Never Dies? If yes, what did you make of Meg's character in it?
I found it very hard to just watch the show and appreciate it for what it was, as I found myself thinking 'Meg wouldn't do that' or 'Mme Giry would not have expected that of Meg'. I saw it very early days into the run, perhaps I could be more detached now, having seen it once, but it was too personal at the time - all those years later I still felt the character in me.

Do you have a Birthday Message for Phantom of the Opera and its fans?
Keep the magic alive. Phantom was a truly memorable part of my life, and it has brought great pleasure to so many. Happy Birthday to the greatest show!

Janet is the Deputy Principal and teaches Dance and Musical Theatre at the Stella Mann College. She also teaches at the Rugby Youth Theatre - teaching and inspiring the performers of tomorrow.

COMING SOON: The Globe Theatre, The Lion In Winter, The Lyric Theatre, Phantom 2012 Tour Access Info, More from Phantom 25 including interviews with Sofia Escobar, Stephen John Davis and more...

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