Sunday, 13 November 2011

Phantom of the Opera & Interview with former Phantom, Stephen John Davis

Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for your continued support for disability access and awareness to the arts in London.

Tomorrow sees the release of the Phantom 25 dvd and to celebrate Access London has another post in our Phantom series.

This week also saw the release of tickets for venues 2 and 3 of Phantom's 2012 UK tour. Both of these will see John Owen Jones behind the mask as The Phantom and Katie Hall will star alongside as Christine. Phantom will arrive at the Manchester Palace Theatre 5 April 2012 - 19 May 2012. The theatre has wheelchair bays in the Cicrle and lift access to the Circle and Grand Tier. There is also an infra red loop system installed. Access Performances include: BSL - Thurs 26 April 2012, 7.30pm, Audio Described - Wed 2 May 2012, 7.30pm and Captioned - Sat 12 May 2012, 2.30pm. To book access tickets for the Palace, please call: 0161 245 6605. For more information, see the
Manchester Palace Website

Phantom will then be at the Bristol Hippodrome 23 May 2012 - 30 June 2012. For more information on Access performances and facilities, please call the Access booking line on: 0117 302 3222.

Back in London, Phantom's home is at Her Majesty's Theatre on the Haymarket. The stalls are easily accessible to wheelchair and scooter users via a side exit door on Charles II Street - simply inform someone at the front of the theatre and they will open it for you. This leads into the rear of the stalls and has an accessible WC. There is space for 4 wheelchairs and companions in Row S or, if you can transfer from your wheelchair or scooter, any aisle seat is accessible.

There is an infra red hearing system installed at the theatre and 10 headsets are available to use - ask in the foyer or an usher. A maximum of 2 assistance dogs are allowed in at any performance. Both large print programmes and braille cast lists are available on request.

To book Access tickets for Phantom of the Opera (currently available from £22.50 each for you and a carer/companion in the stalls), please call: 0844 412 4648. For all other tickets, please call: 0844 412 4653.

Please note: The Access rate is available to those with a disability, not just those who use a wheelchair or scooter - I'm simply pointing this out as I was at Her Majesty's last week and met a lady who was registered blind yet had no idea she was entitled to this - this rate and service are there for a reason and to help, so please do ring and check to see if you are entitled to them!

As with all of Access London's Phantom posts, I'm delighted to bring you an interview with another former cast member, this week - Stephen John Davis. I'd like to take this opportunity to once again say a huge Thank You to Stephen for his time and support.

AL: How did you become involved with the show?

SJD: I was called in to audition for the show’s associate and resident directors and musical director. I sang Lonely House from Kurt Weill’s “Street Scene”. They then asked me to prepare some of the Phantom’s music and recalled me twice. I was then offered the role of Joseph Buquet and “in house” cover Phantom. Luckily, I was able to perform as the Phantom on many occasions.

AL: Phantom is such an iconic show and so well loved, what did it feel like to be part of this worldwide phenomenon?

SJD: It always feels special when you appear in a show that has such an amazing history and is known by millions around the world. On the days when you’re feeling a bit tired, the buzz from the audience reminds you just how much the show means to those paying to see it.

AL: Who played alongside you in the role of Christine?

SJD: I rehearsed with the lovely Katy Treharne and I was thrilled when we did a couple of shows together. I was also incredibly lucky to work with Gina Beck, Sofia Escobar and Tabitha Webb.

AL: You played The Phantom for the 10,000th performance at Her Majesty's in 2010. What was it like to be onstage with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Michael Crawford to celebrate it?

SJD: It was pretty special to be honest. To be on the original stage at Her Majesty’s where the whole phenomenon began as the Phantom alongside the composer and the original Phantom was a day I will never forget. I will also never apologise for going on about it!!!

AL: What was your favourite scene/song to perform in the show?

SJD: I enjoyed all of it! Sorry that may sound a cop out but it’s true; The Phantom never makes a ”normal” entrance. The powerful first entrance behind the mirror going into the first journey and the boat, I loved the Angel scene at the end of Act 1 (although it was a little uncomfortable!). The Masquerade entrance and exit! The reveal from the cross after “Wishing”, the invasion of Don Juan disguised in the cowl that Piangi should be wearing.
Every scene had something in it that I could really enjoy playing. “Music of the Night” is obviously THE song but there isn’t anything that I didn’t love singing.

AL: What was it like to be a part of the Phantom 25 celebrations?

SJD: Another amazing experience. Don Attilio was such fun to play and the atmosphere was electric. A few of us agreed that we just had to stand at the bows and finale and try to take the whole spectacle in. The RAH is a pretty special place (even if I did rename it the South Ken Village Hall)

AL: In your opinion, why do audiences love the show so much and return to see it time and again?

SJD: The spectacle – Maria Bj√∂rnson’s designs have never been bettered. The music is probably ALW’s best and the tale of a child being rejected by his own mother, growing up with the world recoiling from him when he has such passion for music and beauty inside is quite heartbreaking. People love a good cry!

AL: Have you watched a performance of Phantom elsewhere in the world? If yes, is it much different to the London production?

SJD: No. I’d love to see it on Broadway. I watched part of the film once.

AL: If you could play any role(s) in musical theatre, what would it/they be?

SJD: I’d like a go at Che in Evita and Albin in La Cage aux folles might be fun!

AL: Do you have a message for Phantom 25 and its fans?

SJD: Thank you! There wouldn’t be a 25th birthday if it weren’t for the “PHANS”. I really hope you enjoyed the RAH performance this year and 10,000th performance last year if you saw them. Here’s to the next 25 years!

You can follow Stephen on Twitter @stephenjdavis1

Stephen is currently appearing in the UK Tour of South Pacific. I saw this production when it was at the Barbican in London and would thoroughly recommend it. To see tour dates and venues, check out THE SOUTH PACIFIC WEBSITE

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