Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Phantom of the Opera & Interview with Joanna Loxton - Madame Firmin & Cover Madame Giry

Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for supporting disability access and awareness to the arts.

Today's post continues on with Access London's popular series on the Phantom of the Opera. Since our last Phantom post, tickets have gone on sale for the first venue in Phantom's 2012 UK tour - Plymouth. The tour opens in February and runs from 27 February until the 31 March 2012.

Access performances in Plymouth include - Audio Described: Sat 17 March 2.30pm and Thu 22 March 2.30pm. Captioned: Thu 15 March 2.30pm and Fri 30 March 7.30pm
Signed: Sat 24 March 2.30 pm and Thu 29 March 7.30pm
For all details on how to book and for indepth access information for the theatre, please SEE THEIR WEBSITE

Back in London, Phantom's home is at Her Majesty's Theatre on the Haymarket. As of this week, the mid-week matinee will be on Thursdays at 2.30pm, all other performance times are unchanged (Monday-Saturday Evenings at 7.30pm and Saturday matinee at 2.30pm).

Her Majesty's Theatre has level access for wheelchairs, scooters and those who cannot manage stairs on Charles II street. Simply make yourself known to someone at the front of the theatre (usually someone is around from 40 minutes before a performance) and they will escort you around to the side entrance. This entrance leads into the rear of the stalls.

The stalls have a gentle rake, storage area for wheelchairs and scooters and accessible WC. There are spaces for 4 wheelchairs in row S in the stalls. If you can transfer, any aisle seat in the stalls can be booked (subject to availability). An usher is assigned to help and assist those in the wheelchair spaces and transfer seats.

There is an infra-red hearing loop system with 10 headsets available to use - these can be collected from the cloakroom or ask a member of staff (a receipt needs to be signed). 2 assistance dogs per performance are permitted at Her Majesty's. Large print programmes and braille cast lists are also available upon request. Overall, Her Majesty's is very accessible and has some of the most disability aware staff I know of in any London theatre!

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

Today's cast interview is with Joanna Loxton who is currently playing Madame Firmin in Phantom and who also covers Madame Giry. Access London would like to say a Huge Thank You to Joanna for taking the time out to answer some questions.

AL: How does it feel to be part of the cast of Phantom during its 25th year?
JL: It feels wonderful! I have returned to the show having been in the cast several years ago. I loved it back then and am even more delighted to have come back at this time to celebrate its 25th year.

AL: Why do you believe that the show is so successful and has audiences returning again and again?
JL: Because of all the elements happening to fit together so perfectly. Its beautiful music combined with a heart breaking love triangle storyline, its dark mystery and its stunning design by the late Maria Bjornson. It just appeals to so many people around the world...you can't help but fall in love with it.

AL: How did it feel to perform at the 25th anniversary performances with such a large company?
JL: It was such a gift. Not only was it an honour to be part of it, it was also like a huge reunion of people I have worked with over the years. The Phantom company is like no other company. It's one big family who love each other, so the concert was just one big extended happy family reunion.

AL: What was your most memorable moment from the 25th anniversary performances?
JL: I think it must have been coming out into the auditorium during tech and looking around at the set and experiencing a piece of what the audience would be getting. I knew that that feeling would stay strong in my memory for a very long time.

AL: You've recently performed your first few shows as Madame Giry in the 2011/2012 cast, what was that experience like?
JL: Amazing. I have always loved the character because she is the dark horse and holds alot of information about the Phantom's history and background. I went on earlier than expected and just had such a huge buzz. As I said before, there is alot of love in the company and I was hugely supported.

AL: What do you like most and what do you like least about Madame Giry's character?
JL: Madame Giry is the quiet mysterious one...I love that about her because it's all very internal and tense and it's fun to portary that on a stage. She also has to bang her stick alot...my challenge is to do it as loudly as I can! Only thing I'm not so keen on is climbing up to the bridge in a long skirt very quickly...but that's pretty minor.

AL: Madame Giry's costume is probably one of the most subdued in the entire show, compared to some of the brightly coloured pieces that other characters wear. Do you have a favourite costume to wear?
JL: I do love Giry's costume despite its lack of colour because as soon as you're in it you feel in character...but also I'm very lucky to have some amazing costumes in my ensemble plot. My favourite is my purple Madam Firmin costume...it's stunning, and very expensive!

AL: Do you have a favourite song/scene to perform and why?
JL: I LOVE the managers scenes as Madame Giry. I think they are so well written and so full of minor detail. You can follow one character during the number and get so much information about them.

AL: If you could play any role in any musical, what would it be and why?
JL: I have always loved the character Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors and would love to play her. I enjoy comedy and haven't had much opportunity to use it in my career so far.

AL: Do you have a birthday message for Phantom and its fans?
JL: I would like to say that Phantom appreciates it's fans so much. You're the reason we are still here at 25 and we want you to know we hold as much love for it onstage as you guys do from out front!

Thank you once again Jo!

Joanna is currently scheduled to play Madame Giry on the following dates: 3-5 November and 1-3 December. If you can get to see her at all on those dates, please do!

You can also follow Joanna on Twitter @joloxton

COMING SOON: The Globe, The V&A, The Lyric, Phantom & Interview with Stephen John Davis

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