Liebe inmittender Revolution
Von Janina Strupf
MUSICAL Die Neuproduktion von "Les Misérables" erhält im Darmstadtium viel Applaus
DARMSTADT - Das Musical "Les Misérables" mit der Musik von Alain Boublil und Claude-Michel Schönberg ist weithin bekannt und beliebt. Esther Hilsberg, Holger Pototzki und Bianca Hein von der Deutschen Musical Company haben zusammen mit der Kammeroper Köln eine Neuproduktion des Musicals nach der Romanvorlage von Victor Hugo entwickelt, die andere Texte und Lieder präsentiert. Am Montag war diese neue Version im Darmstadtium zu sehen.
Das Stück in der Kölner Fassung spielt ebenfalls während des Pariser Juniaufstandes von 1832, wo Studenten den Aufstand gegen die Obrigkeit proben. Statt wie im Original den Fokus auf den Sträfling Jean Valjean (Andrea Matthias Pagani) und dessen Verfolgung durch den Polizisten Javert (Pieter Tredoux) zu legen, nimmt die Neuproduktion die Liebesgeschichte von Valjeans Ziehtochter Cosette (Marilyne Bäjen) und dem Studenten Marius, der sich auch an der Revolution beteiligt, in den Blickpunkt. Das Stück beginnt mit dem Tod von Cosettes Mutter Fantine (Esther Hilsberg).
In der nächsten Szene sind die Zuschauer schon mittendrin im Streit zwischen Marius und seinem Onkel Gillenormand, einem Gegner des Aufstandes. Tobias Strohmaier verkörpert den Onkel dabei ebenso übertrieben würdevoll wie einfältig, was für Schmunzeln sorgt. Spätestens hier können Nicht-Kenner des Stoffes in Bezug auf den Aufbau des Stückes allerdings ins Straucheln geraten, da der Zeitsprung von "einigen Jahren", wie es im Programmheft steht, nirgends konkret gemacht wird. Das mag auch an der Kulisse liegen. Sie besteht aus fahrbaren Wänden und Gerüsten und stellt, je nachdem wie sie gedreht wird, mal das Haus der Gillenormands, mal die Barrikaden in den Straßen von Paris oder das Haus von Cosette und Valjean dar.
Die Schauspieler wissen das minimalistische Bühnenbild für ihre Zwecke zu nutzen. Das zeigt sich besonders eindringlich in der Szene an den Barrikaden. Dank des authentischen Spiels, das die Kölner Symphoniker mit dramatischer Musik unterlegen, wird der Zuschauer mitgerissen. Zwar vermögen nur Cosettes und Marius' Liebeslieder dem Zuschauer kurz eine Gänsehaut zu bereiten, dennoch untermalt die Musik die Szenen mal einfühlsam, mal ausdrucksstark.
Im zweiten Teil gewinnt
das Stück an Tempo
Einen großen Teil trägt auch der Gesang der Schauspieler dazu bei. Andrea Matthias Pagani weiß das innere Ringen des Jean Valjean stimmlich und spielerisch umzusetzen. Pieter Tredoux gibt als düsterer Polizist Javert ebenfalls eine überzeugende Figur ab. Und auch Marius und Cosette glaubt man, dass sie sich vor Sehnsucht und Liebe nacheinander verzehren.
Zwar gewinnt das Stück im zweiten Teil des Stücks an Tempo, am Ende zieht es sich aber ein wenig. Insbesondere die Hochzeits-Szene hätte einige Minuten kürzer sein dürfen. Dennoch ist der Abend kurzweilig - sofern man sich nicht scheut, den Stoff Victor Hugos aus einer anderen Perspektive zu erleben.
"Barricade" braucht sich nicht zu verstecken
Der Romanstoff des Erfolgsmusicals "Les Miserables" rundum neu auf die Bühne gebracht: Die Kammeroper Köln überzeugt im GZH mit aufwühlender Orchestermusik und starken Stimmen in einer packenden Geschichte.
Aufwühlende Paukenwirbel, gefolgt von signalgebenden Blechbläsern bauen die Spannung auf. Mit zupackendem Dirigat führt Inga Hilsberg am Pult der Kölner Symphoniker durch die Höhen und Tiefen von Esther Hilsbergs Musik zum Musical „Barricade“ mit der Kammeroper Köln. Das Musical, das auf dem Roman „Les Misérables“ (Die Elenden) von Victor Hugo beruht, und das seit 25 Jahren erfolgreich in London läuft, in einer neuen Version (Libretto von Holger Potocki und Bianca Hein) auf deutsche Bühnen zu bringen, scheint gewagt. Doch ist damit eine solch mitreißende und packende Inszenierung geglückt, dass der Erfolg auch hier nicht ausbleibt. Am Mittwochabend traten die fantastischen Darsteller den Beweis an.
Die ausgeklügelte Kulisse zum Wenden führt die Zuschauer einerseits auf die mit Gitterkonstruktionen errichteten Barrikaden, die hitzige Studenten zum Kampf im Pariser Juniaufstand von 1832 errichtet haben, andererseits in verschiedene andere Bereiche. Und so ist ständig pralles Leben auf der Bühne, das sich von Mal zu Mal steigert. Thomas Kaiser punktet mit farbenprächtigen historischen Kostümen.
Wie es dazu kam, dass der ehemalige Dieb Valjean eine Läuterung erfährt, darauf verzichtet die Inszenierung, weil sich die Vorgeschichte im weiteren Verlauf erschließt. Das Stück beginnt da, wo Valjean, der seit seiner Entlassung aus dem Gefängnis von Polizeiinspektor Javert gejagt wird, unter dem Namen Madeleine als angesehener Bürgermeister ein guter Mensch geworden ist. Die schwerkranke Fantine (Isabella Hutter) stirbt, noch bevor er ihre Tochter Cosette zu ihr bringen kann. Andrea Matthias Pagani, im deutschsprachigen Raum einer der profiliertesten Musical-Darsteller, ist als Valjean ein Glücksgriff. Seine überaus kultivierte Tenorstimme glänzt und strahlt, kann aber so warm und samtweich die Gefühlsebenen ausloten, dass man mit ihm fühlen muss. So singen Weltstars. Leider trübt das kratzende Mikro seinen ersten Auftritt. Auch anderweitig hat die Technik stellenweise Probleme.
In der Rolle des Marius zieht Alexander Sasanowitsch, dem schnell alle Herzen zufliegen, als inbrünstig Liebender und leidenschaftlicher Revolutionskämpfer alle Register. Marilyne Bäjen ist Cosette, die ihren Marius hinreißend anhimmelt. Die bezauberndste und einfühlsamste Frauenstimme hat Lara Grünfeld als die unsterblich und unglücklich in Marius verliebte Eponine. Mit ihrer Engelsstimme und Anmut rührt sie jedes Mal aufs Neue ans Herz. Pieter Tredoux verkörpert den Verfolger Javert als einen vom Pflichtgefühl zerfressenen Verfolger. Wenn er singt, dann schwingt Rache mit. Fragwürdig ist, ob in einem solchen Stück Platz für Klamauk ist. Die Figur des Gillenormand, Onkel von Marius, muss Tobias Strohmaier als überdrehter Gockel mimen. Dessen Tochter, die Ann-Christin Klinner mit überzogener Mimik zeigt, ist auch nicht gerade eine erbauliche Figur. Das schlitzohrige Gaunerpaar Thénardier (überzeugend Markus Lürick), ehemaliger Pflegevater von Cosette, besonders aber dessen Frau (Ulrike Jöris überspannt) lassen slapstickhaften Klamauk und dümmliche Dialoge vom Stapel. Da waren die Verfasser wohl zu sehr um Unterhaltung bemüht. Doch ist das ob der brillanten solistischen Darbietungen schnell vergessen.
Auch die Choristen setzen Glanzpunkte. Das junge, frische Ensemble singt und spielt mit immenser Spielfreude und solcher Inbrunst, als ginge es um sein Leben, dass man sich nicht lange bei dem Gedanken aufhält, teilweise die eingängigen Melodien bereits zu kennen. Kongenial, mit großem Facetten- und Farbenreichtum, leuchtet das fabelhafte Orchester die Stimmungen aus und spürt kreativ der Dramatik nach. Die Hochzeitsfeier im Walzerrhythmus driftet ins Operettenhafte ab, schwenkt aber wieder um, als Valjean im Sterben liegt. Als gebrochener Mann singt Pagani „Weine nicht Cosette“, so ergreifend gefühlvoll, dass es einem die Tränen in die Augen treibt. Das Publikum ist hingerissen. Ein Hoch auf die fantastischen Darsteller und die erfrischende Inszenierung.
Überzeugendes Musical um Liebe und Verrat
21.02.2017 - 05:07 Uhr
Ein ungewöhnliches Musical hat den Weg in den Saalbau gefunden: Die Kammeroper Köln überzeugte eindrucksvoll mit „Barricade“.
Ein ungewöhnliches Musical hat den Weg in den Saalbau gefunden: Die Kammeroper Köln überzeugte eindrucksvoll mit „Barricade“.
Barrikaden können Menschen trennen, etwa die Wohlhabenden von den Besitzlosen. Manchmal werden sie aber auch zur Überwindung von sozialen Ungerechtigkeiten gestürmt. Der Pariser Juniaufstand von 1832, bei dem die Republikaner gegen das royalistische System rebellierten, ist ein solches Beispiel. Vor diesem Hintergrund hat Komponistin Esther Hilsberg in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Librettisten Holger Potocki „Barricade“ komponiert und im November 2016 uraufgeführt. Grundlage der Handlung war der berühmte Roman „Les Miserables“ von Victor Hugo.
Befürchtungen, diese „taufrische Musik“ könnte mit schwer verständlichen modernen Elementen oder dissonanten Tonfärbungen überfrachtet sein, erwiesen sich als grundlos. Im Gegenteil. Hilsbergs Musik gefiel durch den großen Melodienreichtum im althergebrachten Musicalstil sowie durch eine enorme, der jeweiligen Handlung angepassten Aussagekraft. Leider war der Saalbau am Sonntagabend nur zur Hälfte gefüllt.
Das Orchester der „Kölner Philharmoniker“ unter der temperamentvollen Leitung von Inga Hilsberg zeigte sich in bester Spiellaune und bildete die musikalische Grundlage für das dramatische Bühnengeschehen. Das Spiel um Liebe, Hass und Verrat vor dem Hintergrund des historischen Aufstandes wurde von einem in allen Rollen gut besetzten Team überzeugend dargestellt.
In den Hauptrollen glänzten besonders Cosette (Marilyne Bäjen), ihr Verehrer Marius (Alexander Sasanowitsch) und der boshaft diabolische Gegenspieler Javert (Pieter Tredoux). Die Liebesduette zwischen Cosette und Marius gefielen durch Melodienreichtum sowie eine zarte und stimmungsvolle Orchesterbegleitung. Die knallharte und befehlsgewohnte Tenorstimme von Javert klang furchterregend in ihrer abgrundtiefen Boshaftigkeit.
Das Bühnenbild bestand – passend zum Geschehen – nur aus Barrikaden, welche von den Darstellern entsprechend der jeweiligen Handlung ständig verschoben wurden. Besonders die Kampfszene im zweiten Teil zog die Zuhörer mit dramatischem Bühnengeschehen und einer aufwühlenden Musik in ihren Bann. Insgesamt war die Aufführung stimmig und wurde mit verdientem Beifall belohnt.
Die Katzen-Stars fauchen jetzt hautnah
NÜRNBERG - „Kommst Du blind auf die Welt, ist die Nacht für Dich hell.“ Wenn Du weißt, woher dieses Zitat stammt, wirst Du zur Musical-Ehrenkatze ernannt. Andrew Lloyd Webbers Stubentiger sind wieder da. Und die „Cats“- Freunde pilgern in Massen zum großen Theaterzelt auf dem Nürnberger Volksfestplatz. Die offizielle Premiere war mit 1700 Besucherinnen und Besuchern praktisch ausverkauft.
Kaum zu glauben, dass dieses Stück schon über 30 Jahre auf dem runden Buckel hat. Und dass das deutschsprachige Publikum fast ebenso lange warten musste, ehe es „Cats“ so zu sehen bekommt, wie es einst am Londoner Westend aufgeführt wurde: mit einer amphitheatralischen Rundbühne.
Die besondere Bühnenform war einer der Hauptgründe, warum die aktuelle „Cats“-Tourneeproduktion, die in Deutschland unter anderem schon die Großstädte Berlin, Hamburg, Köln und Stuttgart „abgeklappert“ hat und nach dem Nürnberger Gastspiel, das am 13. Januar 2013 endet, nach München, Linz, Frankfurt und Graz weiterzieht, mit einem eigens entworfenen Großzelt auf Reisen ist: Normale Theater und Konzerthallen lassen sich nur schwer für die „Cats“-Vorgaben adaptieren.
Der Lohn des Aufwandes: Hautnäher und unmittelbarer hat man Webbers „Cats“ hierzulande wohl noch nie erlebt. Dass die flexiblen Zeltwände dazu neigen, den an sich vollsatten Klang der Liveband zum Scheppersound zu verzerren und dass die großvolumige Lüftungs- und Heizanlage in leisen Passagen mit unüberhörbarem Rauschen nervt, sind Schwächen, die man schnell vergisst.
Ensemble der OberklasseDenn das aktuelle, für Deutschland „gecastete“ Ensemble, zählt ganz ohne Frage zur Oberklasse. Dem halbutopischen Musical-Idealbild des virtuos-akrobatischen Tanz-Universalisten mit Superstimme kommen die „Cats“-Darstellerinnen und -Darsteller erfreulich nahe.
So ist Masha Karell eine charismatische, stimmlich sehr prägnante Grizzabella, die gute Erinnerungen an die ganz junge Angelika Milster weckt. Pieter Tredoux füllt seinen mystischen Katzen-Übervater-Alt Deuteronimus mit skurriler Selbstironie und sanftem Sarkasmus. Dominik Hees’ Rum Tum Tugger ist ein sportiv-lasziver Katzenmacho, Jack Allen ein Nurejev-gleich schwerelos schwebender Zauberkater Mefistoffelees.
Die Maus, Verzeihung, den Vogel, schießt allerdings der in Musicalkreisen wohl bekannte Yngwe Gasoy Romdal als alte Theaterkatze Asparagus ab: Romdal porträtiert nicht ein beliebiges Bühnen-Urgestein, sondern liefert eine subtile, aber äußerst treffende Johannes-Heesters-Parodie ab, in der sich „Jopie“ wohl wiedererkannt hätte. Für Fans mit offenen Ohren ein großer Spaß.
Ein Urteil, das man getrost auf den Rest der Produktion ausdehnen kann. Diese sehenswerte „Cats“-Wiederbelebung ist höchst empfehlenswert.
HANS VON DRAMINSKI
Evita Seduces Again!
Pieter Toerien Productions produces EVITA, the biggest hit of 2010! Already seen by over 20 000 people! Final extension until 23 January.
With this final extension Evita becomes the longest running show in Theatre on the Bay's 22 year history! Seats are now available for all performances during this extended period.
This is truly a production not to be missed. The cast embody their roles from the first line, the stage effects place you in that period in history, and you fall captive to the charms and plight of Eva, Che, Peron, Magaldi and the mistress. Angela Kilian who plays Eva, had audiences mesmorised by her outstanding performance and vocals, and along with her fellow cast members, brought the evening to an end with a standing ovation. SAMDB's Pieter Tredoux was the alternate for the role of Peron, usually performed by James Borthwick, and gave a strong and touching performance. Congratulations to Kenneth, Angela, Pieter, Anton, Lynn and the rest of the cast for infusing the theatre with nostalgia and leaving the audience inspired. As one attending actress said. "A performance such as this, reminds me why I do what I do!"
Beginning with a young and ambitious Eva, the production follows her meteoric rise to virtual sainthood. The story tells of the enormous wealth and power she gained and the means by which she became the beloved Evita.
EVITA's memorable "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" was recorded and released in 1976, followed by the release of the complete double album, which went gold. The stage production opened on June 21, 1978 at the Prince Edward Theatre in London with Elaine Paige in the title role and Joss Ackland as her formidable husband and President of Argentina, Juan Perón.
Following stints in Los Angeles and San Francisco, EVITA premiered on Broadway at the Broadway Theatre on 25th September 1979. The production ran for an incredible 1,567 performances (more than twice as many as Jesus Christ Superstar). EVITA won an impressive seven Tony Awards including Best Book, Best Score and Best Musical of the year and in 1981, received a Grammy Award.
Productions of EVITA have been performed all over the world and in 1996 a film version with Madonna in the title role hit the big screen, garnering 8 Academy Awards including best original song for You Must Love Me. A revival of the show opened at London's Adelphi Theatre in 2006, with a new Latin-infused orchestration and the hit song from the movie, sung by Argentinean power-house, Elena Roger.
Cast: Eva – Angela Kilian, Che – Kenneth Meyer, Peron – James Borthwick, Magaldi – Anton Luitingh, Mistress – Lynn Thompson
Ensemble: Reg Hart, Niall Griffin, Kyle Mathews, Grant Almirall, Graham Bourne, Pieter Tredoux, Marc Goldberg, Pauline du Plessis, Hanlee Louw, Candice van Litsenborgh, Tammi Meyer, Courtney Jonas, Chantall Herman & Megan Carelse
News submitted by: Martéz Saporta-Rothuysen
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
REVIEW: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Beauty and the Beast Music Alan Menken Lyrics Howard Ashman and Tim Rice Book Linda Woolverton Associate Director / Choreographer Jacqueline Dunley-Wendt Resident Director Alan Swerdlow Musical Director Louis Zurnamer Cast Talia Kodesh, Anton Luitingh, Jonathan Roxmouth, Jonathan Taylor, Pieter Tredoux, Anne-Marie Clulow, Sbusiso Radebe, Katherine Henderson, Angela Kilian, Neville Thomas
Thursday, 16 October 2008
The admission that I’ve not seen Disney’s 1991 animated Beauty and the Beast film usually illicits shocked gasps. It seems as if I’m the only person who hasn’t. Upon being invited to see the stage musical, which recently opened at Montecasino’s Teatro, I had few expectations to draw on.
Some may be surprised to learn that the Beauty and the Beast story did not originate with Disney but is a traditional European fairy tale. The first written version, La Belle et la Bête, was published in France in 1740. Disney’s modern film version highlighted the themes that ‘looks can be deceiving’ and that ‘one should not judge a book by its cover’ and featured a strong female character.
With music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman, the film went on to earn over $403 million around the world and was the first, and only, animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. As is the nature of things these days, a stage musical was not far off.
It opened on Broadway in 1994 with new songs and additional lyrics by the legendary Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita) and ran to commercial, but not critical, success until last year when it closed after 5,464 performances. It became the sixth-longest running production on Broadway and continues to be performed around the world by numerous other companies.
The story centres on a prince who is turned into a beast by a witch. Cue Belle, who find herself trapped in the beast’s castle, along with a motley crew of bewitched staff who are gradually turning into household objects. If she does not fall in love with the Beast soon, he and the staff will stay permanently transformed. There’s also a villain in the guise of the narcissistic village hunk, Gaston, who is determined to win Belle’s hand in marriage at any cost.
Beauty and the Beast is first and foremost a stage spectacle – boasting moving, rotating and rising sets, all wonderfully conceived, at every turn. There are also fireworks, a large singing and dancing cast and fantastic, elaborate costumes.
It’s a remarkably well-created fantasy world that had the audience clapping at set reveals instead of the performances (perhaps South Africans are a little deprived of big budget productions?). The show, however, seems more like something that should be put on in Las Vegas or at a theme park than on Broadway.
The characters are on the level of pantomime fairy tale ciphers and lack any depth. The songs are on the whole forgettable, barring Be Our Guest and the theme, and the storyline is feeble. The first act also drags and is much too long, while the second act is thankfully much pacier. Nevertheless, Beauty and the Beast succeeds in entertaining the audience; in large part because of a talented and personable cast who bring it all together.
Talia Kodesh sparkles as the feisty Belle but is not evenly matched with Anton Luitingh as The Beast. In the first act, his bewitched prince lacks weight and menace and his movement as The Beast is not entirely convincing. Happily, he pulls it all together in the second act, which offers some genuinely emotional moments and for first time we feel something for The Beast.
The cast-members who perform in the roles of the household servants that have been turned into objects are a highlight of the production. Everyone, from Pieter Tredoux as Lumière, and Neville Thomas as Cogsworth, to Anna Marie Clulow as Miss Potts, are a delight to watch.
Jonathan Roxmouth as the dastardly Gaston is another standout among the cast. He is note perfect as the handsome villain - both in his acting as well as his vocals. He is immensely entertaining to watch in his mastery of the character which could, if handled badly, be annoying.
A serious misstep is the casting of Sibusiso Radebe as Le Fou - Gaston's servant. Not because he is incapable in the role, but as the only black performer in the production Le Fou’s grovelling, buffoonish antics and makeup make him seem very much like a character in a minstrel show; shows with racist undertones that lampooned black people. In a racially sensitive country as ours, it seems inconceivable that the producers and creative team failed to miss this.
Beauty and the Beast is sure to pull in the crowds. It is a slick well-oiled production that sets out to dazzle with spectacle - and succeeds. And, despite its many shortcomings, you’ll more likely than not leave the theatre with a lump in your throat and a smile on your face.
THE PROPERTY MAGAZINE
Beauty and The Beast: A Visual Delight
There is something super special about fairy tales those tales as old as time, which can be enjoyed by young and old. And whether that magic is conjured up in the imaginations of children too young to read, or in animated movie classics, or on stage, the magic remains. After all the hype from the Gauteng run of Beauty and the Beast, I was looking forward to its opening in Cape Town, but faced with the choice between a best friend’s wedding and opening night – well, there’s no real choice is there.
And so it happened that I attended not on opening night, but a good few performances into the run. Accompanied by a friend who is without a doubt the biggest Disney fan I have ever met, and knowing that response generally has been extremely positive, expectations were high. And we were not disappointed. In fact, as we left, she said “Can we do it all over again, please?”, which is exactly the response I love to have from a night at the theatre!
Even before the curtain goes up we’re mesmerised by the music, under the baton of an extremely capable Louis Zurnamer. The musical theatre genre allows for a lot of scope to make the best possible use of theatrical devices. But it has been a long time since I have seen this freedom taken advantage of, to quite this extent.
Colour is used to great effect throughout, and from flying creatures to flashing lights and fireworks, to elaborate make-up and costumes and sets, there is total sensory overload, as one truly is transported into a dream world. In the enchanted castle, we really do find people inside things, desperately wishing to be human again. The costumes which allow for this are incredible… a candlestick with wicks which light on demand, a cupboard with doors and drawers which open, a tubby teapot with a handle and a spout. Pieter Tredoux, Katherine Henderson and Anne-Marie Clulow are fabulous in these roles.
Even more fabulous are Jonathan Roxmouth (Gaston), and Sibu Radebe as his little (really) sidekick Lefou, who are every bit the cartoon characters they portray! Absolutely in command of their performances, and eccentrically expressive in every respect, this duo is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the show!
I most recently saw Talia Kodesh in the musical Chicago, but she makes a thoroughly convincing transition to the frustrated provincial Belle. Her performance is sincere, her voice beautiful, and her interaction with Gaston so spot-on it appears spontaneous. In fact, the “movement” throughout is exceptionally well-timed and -executed, showcased superbly in a cup-clinking bar-dance.
Anton Luitingh certainly has a presence on stage as the Beast, and manages to portray his awkwardness well, but the contrast between the savage and scary Beast and the reformed romantic Beast could have been further emphasised for more theatrical effect.
Beauty and the Beast is delightfully over the top in a way that only a fairy tale could be, and yet still manages to strike a strong emotional chord. The combined forces of Pieter Toerien, Hazel Feldman and Disney Theatrical Productions have produced a local show of international standards, where even the curtain calls are polished. It is seldom that theatre can truly be described as having something for everyone, but this show really does, and it deserves to be seen!
Beauty and the Beast plays at the Artscape Opera House until 8 March 2008, with booking via Computicket.
Words by: by Fiona Gordon
Joburg falls under Beauty and the Beast’s spell
(12th Oct - 9 Dec) The love affair that blossomed on stage was mirrored offstage, as Joburg audiences fell completely under the spell of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast during its official opening last night Sunday, 12 October 2008.
This smash hit Broadway stage musical, based on the Oscar-winning animated movie, is being produced in South Africa by Pieter Toerien and Hazel Feldman, in association with Disney Theatrical Productions.
Having been seen by more than 35 million people in over 100 cities around the world, the magic of Beauty and the Beast has now reached South Africa, with a top-notch local cast and production team assisted by an international Disney creative team.
The opening night, at Montecasino’s Teatro, was attended by celebrities such as Paralympic gold medalist Natalie du Toit and performers such as Andre Schwartz, Ed Jordan, Terrance Bridget and Cito.
Beauty and the Beast tells the “tale as old as time” of a young, spoiled prince who is transformed into a hideous beast because of his shallowness and selfishness, and has to learn to love another and earn their love in return to break the spell.
The opening night audience was captivated by the imaginative sets, delightful choreography and cleverly designed costumes, particularly those of the enchanted household objects such as Lumière (Pieter Tredoux), Mrs. Potts (Anne-Marie Clulow), Cogsworth (Neville Thomas), Babette (Angela Kilian), Madame de la Grande Bouche (Katherine Henderson) and the cute little teacup Chip, played on the night by young Yarin Neuhaus.
Jonathan Roxmouth as the ultra-vain baddie Gaston and the acrobatic fumblings of his sidekick Lefou (Sibu Radebe) had the audience in stitches. However, it was the central pairing of Talia Kodesh as Belle and Anton Luitingh as the Beast that brought home the beauty and romance of the timeless story.
The music of composer Alan Menken, with lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, is brought to life by a live orchestra headed by music director Louis Zurnamer. Alan Swerdlow serves as resident director, with Jill Somers as resident dance supervisor and Alistair Kilbee as technical director.
Beauty and the Beast is showing at the Teatro until 7 December, before moving to the Artscape Opera House in Cape Town in February 2009. Booking is open at Computicket.
Beauty and the Beast is sponsored by Investec in association with British Airways, Jacaranda 94.2, M-Net and Southern Sun.
Review: Beauty and the Beast
This article first appeared in THE WEEKENDER
18th October 2008
If you’re one of those people for whom the words “Beauty and the Beast” conjure up a schmaltzy ballad by Peabo Bryson and Celine Dion – or perhaps, with the 1991 Disney film in mind, an ageing Angela Lansbury setting aside her septuagenarian sleuthing in Murder, She Wrote to provide the voice for a singing teapot – then you’re likely to dismiss a stage version of the musical.
Recalling only the sentimental aspects of the Oscar-nominated movie, however, does a disservice to the sparkling wit of the late Howard Ashman’s lyrics for Alan Menken’s songs and the pioneering work of the artistic team in fusing traditional- and computer-animation techniques. As is the case with most Disney animated films, the strength of Beauty and the Beast lies more in its humour and visual impact than in its narrative or dramatic power.
The same can be said of the theatrical production, which is being performed in South Africa for the first time after opening on Broadway back in 1994 (it has subsequently been played over 5,000 times in 100 cities worldwide). Tim Rice provided lyrics for additional songs and Linda Woolverton adapted her own screenplay for the stage.
The show is a spectacular affair: ingenious costuming and props, constantly moving sets and backdrops, and frequent use of special effects to complement the lighting all conspire to achieve the improbable – adapting the limitless world of animation to the physical limitations of live theatre. It’s also, like the film, very funny; occasionally the slapstick comedy is overdone, but this is one “cartoon” element more obviously suited to the screen than the stage.
There are some star turns in the South African cast under the direction of Alan Swerdlow. Talia Kodesh plays the bookish and beautiful Belle – a proto-feminist who yearns for something more than the provincial “French” life she has with her doting but eccentric father Maurice (Jonathan Taylor), and who won’t settle for a marriage with the brainless chauvinist, Gaston. Jonathan Roxmouth depicts this macho caricature with aplomb, by turns the cheesy ladies’ man and the villainous bully. Sibu Radebe is Gaston’s much-abused sidekick, Lefou (politically correct audience members be warned: the only black actor in this show plays the clown/dunce figure).
Obsessed by myth and legend – part of the Disney creators’ self-mockery, hinting that fairytale anachronisms shouldn’t be taken too seriously, even if there is didactic value in mythical archetypes – Belle gets more than she bargained for when she finds herself trapped in the Beast’s enchanted castle. Anton Luitingh as the Beast is better as a comically awkward suitor than as an angry, menacing creature; his “temper tantrums” are not especially convincing and he never seems especially threatening, but he warms to the romantic side of the role.
The castle scenes are dominated by the “human implements” under its spell: Pieter Tredoux as Lumiere, the candelabra; Anne-Marie Clulow as Mrs Potts (accompanied by her son-turned-teacup, Chip, whose disembodied head is probably the most disturbing phenomenon in the show); Katherine Henderson as Madame de la Grande Bouche, the opera-star-turned-wardrobe; Angela Killian as Babette, the sexy featherduster; and Neville Thomas as Cogsworth, the officious former head of staff, now a clock.
There is a curious mixture of French, American, British and South African accents (Disney at its ahistorical best) but these disappear when the cast hit their vocal straps – and most of the voices in this production, under the musical direction of Louis Zurnamer, are extremely impressive.
The chorus is equally strong, and highlights of the show include the ensemble numbers “Gaston” (a tavern scene with an elaborate percussion routine using beer tankards) and “Be Our Guest”, featuring a seemingly endless series of dancing cutlery and crockery.
http://jv.dieburger.com//Stories/Entertainment/19.0.1263048394.aspxweeblylink_new_window Asemrowende produksie
01/02/2009 10:22:52 PM - (SA)
Beauty and the Beast
Hoera vir ’n man wat ’n vrou met boeke eerder as uiterlike aansienlikheid kan laat swig!
Hoera vir ’n vrou wat ’n stert en slagtande kan miskyk om ’n prins raak te sien!
Hiep-hiep hoera vir sprokies en gelukkige eindes!
Alles in hierdie produksie is daarop gerig om jou asem weg te slaan en binne die eerste minuut gebeur dit reeds.
Daarna volg elke asemrowende oomblik so vinnig dat jy skaars kan byhou en hou vol tot aan die einde met die ondier se dramatiese transformasie.
Beauty and the Beast was nie verniet jare lank boaan die trefferlys op oorsese verhoë nie.Dis ’n skouspel van klank en kleur, maar bowenal met daardie tikkie geheimsinningheid wat nodig is in die teater.
Elkeen van die hoofkarakters het sy eie sjarme. Kodesh is die perfekete Belle, ’n vrou wat haar nie aan die neus laat lei nie en nie laat voorsê nie. Luitingh verwissel seepglad van monster tot prins. Oor Jonathan Roxmouth se Gaston word reeds gefluister dat hy (uit die betroubaarste bron van almal) as die beste Gaston tot nog toe beskryf word. Hy het die indrukwekkende statuur wat nodig is en hy klim volledig in die pronker se stewels.
Dis egter Gaston se handlanger Lefou (Sibu Radebe) wat uitgesonder moet word. Gaston slaan hom plat, maar soos ’n rubberballetjie bons hy terug en land telkens op sy voete. Hy maak van hansworstery ’n kuns.’n Mens sou graag iets oor elkeen van die karakters in die ondier se kasteel wou sê, maar dis beter om self te gaan kyk. Wees verseker van genoeg humor en betowering.
Woorde skiet te kort om die dekor, kostuums en grimmering te beskryf. Dalk is dit genoeg om te sê dat tien kleders aan diens is om die vele kostuumverwisselings glad te laat verloop. Aangesien dit gedoen moet word volgens voorskrifte van Disney, sien gehore hier presies wat oorsee op die verhoog is. Dis ook wonderlik om die luukse van ’n orkes in die orkesput te hê.
Jy voel dan ook inderdaad of jy vir die duur van die vertoning iewes in die West End sit. Meer as ’n tikkie trots kom lê in jou hart vir dié rolverdeling wat die stempel plaas op die skouspel en die produksie trots Suid-Afrikaans maak.
Be enchanted by Beauty and the Beast
By: Ruth Cooper
The smash hit musical; Beauty and the Beast currently showing at the Artscape is a truly spectacular, fabulous and over the top bordering on cheesy (actually not really bordering, it is for the most part pretty cheesy) production. But that is what one would expect from a Disney musical, the show is very much based on the movie and the cast are somewhat cartoonish in their appearance and style of acting though I mean that in the best way possible. It has all the elements of an entertaining production; drama, romance, flashy song and dance numbers, amazing detailed costumes and of course many amusing moments to keep the audience laughing.
The actors are top class and well cast, Talia Kodesh is pretty and strong willed as the beautiful Belle. Anton Luitingh captures the Beast's temper and insecurity equally well. Though for me the two characters that stood out the most are the macho; beer guzzling shotgun firing Gaston played by Jonathan Roxmouth and the charming and flirtatious Lumière played by Pieter Tredoux. Roxmouth seems to be channelling Johnny Bravo and is hilarious as the conceited suitor of Belles. Followed by a trio of swooning and giggling blonde girls Gaston attempts to win Belles heart by flexing his muscles and waggling his eyebrows suggestively. While Tredoux is utterly delightful as the dashing candelabra and flirts with the audience as well as the cast throughout his performance, and is especially flirtatious with the sultry feather duster Babette played by Angela Kilian who swishes about the stage most alluringly.
Beauty and the Beast literally dazzles the audience with its multi layered and tightly choreographed song and dance numbers. Noteworthy numbers include the cutlery inspired Be Our Guest song which has Belle introduced to a wealth of enchanted half human half object characters that frolic and can-can delightfully across the stage against a backdrop of flashing lights and popping champagne bottles. Equally as entertaining and superbly choreographed is the manly beer drinking song lead by Gaston in the village bar, it will have you tapping your foot and wishing you had a tin beer mug in hand to cheers along to. This is definitely one production you don't want to miss, from the romance and comedy to the fabulous and seamless stage settings and over the top costumes there is something for everyone. The magical Beauty and the Beast runs until 8 March 2009 at Artscape. Tickets cost from R150 to R400 via Computicket, 083 915 8000 or 021 421 7695.
BUSINESS DAY (National) 21 Oct 2008 Arts &Leisure THEATRE "Magic is just one among many of the surprises awaiting you in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST running at The Teatro, Montecasino, until the end of December, and thereafter at Artscape in Cape Town. It is a work so rich, so packed with action and passion that it buzzes and sparkles. This is what musical theatre should be about: a really exciting journey, giving hope and joy to life. The genre demands glorious surfaces and extravagant detail; this is a classic Disney production, entirely imagined, dense with artistry, without a moment of drag. The set designs are coherent, ample and airy, with sensitive lighting framing the menacingly grotesque; and the cast is strong, assured and very focused. There is no doubt that the company has benefited from state-of-the-art schooling and training. A disciplined neatness characterises the whole performance. Heads, legs and arms are perfectly placed, feet move fluidly, and carefully coached voices hit the notes. Yet it is not just the super technical rendition that is notable for its polish and craftsmanship - the lead actors turn the nostalgia of an age-old fairytale into a mesmerising modern drama. The rewrite, by Linda Woolverton, signals a right-angled turn in the traditional love story. First she shows a oneparent family to be the new and acceptable norm. Belle, the Beauty, and her father, Maurice, are decent people, filled with goodwill, patience and trust, staunch supporters of one another, together negotiating the fresh path within a reconfigured contemporary family. Here, the primary bond with a male parent provides only a power for good, a proper sense of compassion and an easy friendliness. The alliance between these blood relatives will provide the essential, knife-edged catalyst that drives the drama to its final resolution. Disney and happy endings go hand-inhand, but Woolverton has a surprise in store. There is to be no trace of cloying sentiment in the plot line, nor love-at-first sight recognition that is supposed to happen once in a lifetime. The days of needing a Fairy Godmother are so over. Enter Talia Kodesh as Belle. This is the woman about to overturn sentimental legend, who will emerge as a person of steely discipline and organisational ability; who is ruthless when thwarted, and fears spiritual suffocation if she is denied access to books. Kodesh is vivid, full of complexity and contradiction, thoughtful and clear-eyed, a feminist icon. The Beast, as interpreted by Anton Luitingh, cannot make any sense of his life, so makes a nonsense of most of it. He is incredibly unobservant, in many respects ignorant and without faith in himself. His wretchedness manifests itself in temper tantrums. Yet Luitingh has his five-star moments: once, as he sits entranced listening to the story of King Arthur, and then later when he finds the courage to let Beauty go. With a voice full of pain, he sings "If I Can't Love Her", his own troubled and abrasive personality subdued in hopeless longing. It is a passionate plea to a beloved friend. Bear witness to the talent of Jonathan Roxmouth as Gaston the hunk, a selfregarding Johnny Bravo with an Elvis quiff who is wholly unashamed of his physical perfection; and of Anne-Marie Clulow as Mrs Potts the Teapot, perking everyone up with huge doses of comfort and a cuppa. Her rendition of the Academy Award winning "Beauty and the Beast" is infused with tears. This musical invites you to escape into an illusion, where real people inhabit wardrobes, a candelabra, a clock and a feather duster. There is a culinary cabaret in which kitchen utensils, plates and a doormat masquerading as a carpet parody the extravaganzas of Ziegfeld and Busby Berkeley. So, Woolverton's final lesson is that the theatre is a space where audiences should expect anything and everything to happen. The trick is not to judge anyone on outward appearances, to be open-minded, to be prepared for the preposterous and to be ready to laugh. Just go and have fun!"
Stage and Screen
Review for The Beauty and the Beast By Louw Mulder
They promised an enchanted evening, to blow your mind away, and that is exactly what Pieter Toerien and Hazel Feldman achieved, as Producer of the very successful Beauty and the Beast. My expectations was that it is just another Broadway Smash hit coming to South Africa, but I am sure in my books it can now go down as a South Africa Smash hit Musical. The story is familiar, but it was like a new tale being told, with the same happy ending. The interpretation of what Disney initially created, was pure South African, but perfected to the cause. One would tend to make the mistake of comparing the style, characters and effects to the movie and DVD, or even other stage productions of Beauty and the Beast, but I will strongly advice to remember that it is a South African Production, with that unique and brilliant touch of South Africaness, just the way we are.
The special effects used were amazing, and just enchanted the whole audience. The set design was created in such a way, it created the mood for you. And then, the Costumes… what an amazing job to have pulled that off. Everything came together as one great piece of theatre, and it is my prediction that you would want to go see it for a second time, just for those little detail you have missed first time around. I don’t think a better Belle and Beast could have been casted as Talia Kodesh and Anton Luitingh respectively. These two professionally acclaimed theatre actors showed what they are worth, by giving us in the audience the perfect Beauty and the Beast. Kodesh portrait Belle as this beautiful, innocent girl, perfectly as the character should be, in such a style, she crept right into everyone’s heart, immediately. South Africa’s Beast, however, was according to me played very uniquely by Luitingh, by being the beast he was supposed to be, but through-out displaying the human being he once was, with that touch of sadness and longing to be loved again, coming through from time to time. In our reviews, we try to highlight actors that gave an phenomenal performance, and in Beauty and the Beast, there were three characters that was played so brilliantly according to me, it deserves to be mentioned. All characters was created, but it is up to the actor playing that part, that makes you enjoy it such a way, you just want to see them again. Firstly, there was Pieter Tredoux, playing the French speaking Lumiere… or should I say the Candle Chandelier. The way he enacted that part, was funny, sincere, and no doubt the best performer they could have casted for that role. Then, there is the good and the bad duo, of Gaston and Lefou, played by Jonathan Roxmouth and Sibu Radebe. Radebe as excellent in the role he played, because it just felt as if he gave that 10% more to make his performance that incredible. Roxmouth, on the other hand, was as if he created the image of Johnny Bravo of Cartoon Network, once again, with that South African touch. Macho and Manly, with that huge think of himself image, was created in such a way, you actually wanted to love him, even though you know he was the bad guy eventually. It is a must to go see Taylor in this role. The rest is history, and this history is what I would like to remember… An enchanted evening that blew me away with the type of production us South Africans are capable of producing. The Beast learned to love again… Belle Loved him in Return… Te spell was broken… and they lived happily ever after… It all deserved the standing ovation it received. Well Done, Beauty and the Beast, South Africa.
SAMDB Enjoys Beauty and the Beast
SAMDB had the privilege to watch Lumier, Pieter Tredoux, one of our newest members, at Artscape Thursday evening, 5 March. His performance was nothing short of spectacular. His portrayal of Lumier was both enchanting and comical. A delight to watch.
Overall the production came to life with brilliant comic timing, both verbally and physically, spectacular costumes, characters rooted in the moment set against fantastical backdrops.
The show was heralded with a standing ovation, and bittersweet emotions swept into the night, as a satisfied audience left behind a world of dreams come true, carrying with them a spark of hope for happy endings.
FLEUR DU CAP AWARDS
Beast - Everything You Imagined it Would be Monday, 02 February 2009
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST; Book by Linda Woolverton, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. Music by Alan Menken. Directed by Robert Jess Roth with resident director Alan Swerdlow. With Anton Luitingh, Talia Kodesh, Jonathan Roxmouth, Sibu Radebe, Neville Thomas, Pieter Tredoux, Angela Kilian, Anne-Marie Clulow, Katherine Henderson, Oliver Amos and others. At the Artscape Opera House – until March 8. Marianne Thamm The release by Disney in 1991 of the movie “Beauty and the Beast” set a new standard for animated feature films. It was the first animated movie to be nominated for on Oscar for Best Picture (it lost to “Silence of the Lambs”) and won two Oscars for Best Music Original Score (Alan Menkin) and Best Music, Original Song (“Beauty and the Beast” Alan Menkin and Howard Ashman). It went on to win several other awards as well. Transporting or translating a near-perfect screen product – in which humans have been turned into tea pots, candelabras and corkscrews – onto a stage requires a Herculean effort, limitless recourses, technical wizardry and exceptional human talent. Disney, of course, can afford and access all of these, which is why this Broadway stage musical continues to bedazzle, enchant and enthrall – adjectives that remain appropriate in this case. “Beauty and The Beast” is a stage spectacle from the lavish costumes and props, the scenery, the lighting, the smoke, the mirrors, the music and the choreography. The technical wizardry will, at times, have you wondering how it was all accomplished. But externals aside, what really matters of course is whether the cast is able to bring this endearing tale of love and transformation convincingly to life. There have been a few mumblings since opening night that as the Beast, Anton Luitingh, lacks a darkness and anger that some feel is required of the role. But those of us with children (and in the end it is they who are the target audience) know that a character that is too scary or evil will be frightening rather than endearing. Luitingh’s Beast works precisely because he plays him with such tenderness, vulnerability, rage and irritation. Of course we all know he’s a prince who has been trapped in the body of a beast because of his own vanity and selfishness. He is not a monster in the true sense of the word. Luitingh, who has proved himself a capable actor and singer in a variety of big budget musicals, is a most accomplished Beast. Sadly though it is when he is transformed back into a prince that he is less convincing. Perhaps it’s just that he’s been lugging that costume around for so long on stage, but he’s no dashing heartthrob without it. Talia Kodesh makes a dignified, decent and fearless Belle, more concerned with her books than finding true love. Kodesh has a beautiful, clear voice and brings a playful independence to the part. Show stealers are Jonathan Roxmouth as the, cartoonish, caddish Gaston (he’s so charming you almost want Belle to as least have a least a one night stand before dumping him) and Sibu Radebe who is outstanding as Gaston’s foolish handlanger, Lefou. Also outstanding were Pieter Tredoux as Lumiere (and he’s soo delicious in the Act 1 show-stopper, “Be Our Guest”), Annie-Marie Clulow as the lovable Mrs Potts and Katherine Henderson as Madame de la Grande Bouche. And while Neville Thomas is perfectly cast as the anxious Cogsworth, he appeared lacklustre at times. Each member of the cast works hard on stage, no matter how minor the role and this all adds to the overall seamless professionalism. An unforeseen technical hitch that resulted in a five minute break in Act Two on the night we saw the show seemed to have broken some kind of spell and the actors appeared to have lost a bit of their mojo once the action had resumed. It may be unfair to point this out but the pace did seem to drag a little in the second half. The score, from the opening number, “Belle”, to the extravaganza “Be Our Guest”, the signature, “Beauty and the Beast”, as well as the seven new songs added for the stage version, is clever and rousting. The scenery, originally designed by Stanley Meyer, is stunning and almost always in perpetual motion as the musical shifts locations. While tickets are priced between R150 and R400 and an evening out with your family could cost you a packet, you will not be disappointed. This "Beauty and the Beast" will sweep you away with it’s magic, humour, verve and accomplishment.
MY FAIR LADY
My Fair Lady Deon's set stage for two ladies
May 3, 2006 By Diane de Beer Director: Deon Opperman Musical director: Adele Strombeck Choreographer: Shelley Adriaanzen Set design: Stan Knight Costume design: Sarah Roberts Lighting: Oliver Wilter Sound: Trevor Peters Technical director: Le Rien Stofberg Hats off to Deon Opperman. From last year's Sound of Music, which might have been a commercial success yet not a critical one, he has gathered the best around him and come up with something quite brilliant. Not only does he manage it once, he does it with two different casts. So whether you see cast 1 or 2, won't make any difference in performance but quite a bit in interpretation. Technically, things have taken quite a dramatic turn. With Stan Knight and Sarah Roberts on the design team and Stoffberg overseeing the technical aspects, the production is spot on. More than with any other kind of performance, such complicated staging of a musical makes all the difference. Especially considering the theatre's technical machinery is slightly dated and sets don't move as quickly as they should. Thank goodness, for example that we've been spared silent set changes this year with an orchestra that keeps one blissfully happy during the change-overs, of which there are many. The sets are also streets ahead and all but the ballroom scene, which has very little impact and is perhaps the only weak link of the show, the designs of both sets and costumes are wonderfully stylish in true Fair Lady fashion. Making up for that is a spectacular chorus moment with Alfie Doolittle's I'm Getting Married in the Morning when the ensemble really shows its strength. Small wonder then, if you take into account that the show boasts the talents of Amy Holder (one of the Christines in Toerien's Phantom of the Opera). Their energy, singing and dancing is sheer joy to witness. I also loved these particular sets. One of the joys of both productions is while both work really well, they're quite different in interpretation. It's a bit like seeing two different shows yet neither take away from the memories that many might have of this iconic musical. It's also great that while one might prefer some performers, they all do a great job Cast 1 Performing Wednesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm and Sundays at 2.30pm Angela Kilian (Eliza Doolittle), Drummond Marais (Prof Higgins), Neville Thomas (Colonel Pickering), David James (Alfred Doolittle), Judy Page (Mrs Higgins), Clare Marshall (Mrs Eynsford Hill) Brennan Holder (Freddy Eynsford Hill), Dianne Simpson (Mrs Pearce), Thorston Wedekind (Zoltan Karpathy), Craig Hawks (George), Ramond Tyack (Jamie) and Pieter Tredoux (Harry) It must be quite a daunting task to recreate a musical so well known and loved - both on stage and film. And with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison's performances burnt into many memories, it's a tough one to tackle. This cast, in a sense, felt much closer to the movie in interpretation . Closing your eyes, you could almost hear Harrison's intonation in the songs as Drummond Marais stepped into his Professor Higgins role. Because Marais is quite small, it was important that he give a big performance, and he does. Like the true pro he is, his is a sterling Higgins. Angela Kilian has a beautiful voice and is a regal Eliza. She pulls it off magnificently most of the time but sadly her Cockney accent lets her down. Yet together, they make a fine pair. It's lovely to have Judy Page back on stage and she makes her mark even in a small part while Brennan Holder (Raoul in Phantom) again shows off his stunning voice in the lilting Street Where You Live. Both Neville Thomas as Pickering and David James as Alfred Doolittle, bring character to their respective parts. As a whole the cast has star quality and pull the whole thing together in a wonderfully professional fashion. Cast 2 Performing Saturdays at 2.30pm and Sundays at 6.30pm Gemma Donnelly (Eliza Doolittle), Mike Huff (Prof Higgins), Ron Smerczak (Colonel Pickering), Lawrence Joffey (Alfred Doolittle), Bella Mariani (Mrs Higgins), Lyn Locketz (Mrs Eynsford Hill) Cobus Venter (Freddy Eynsford Hill), Edele Strombeck (Mrs Pearce), Thorston Wedekind (Zoltan Karpathy), Craig Hawks (George), Ramond Tyack (Jamie) and Pieter Tredoux (Harry) Gemma Donnelly is a young performer from the UK, which means no problems with the Cockney accent. Her transition from flower seller to dame is smooth and she brings a spunky youthfulness to her Eliza, as well as a striking voice. She's someone to watch out for in future. Another veteran musical crooner, Mike Huff makes the role of Higgins his own and he manages superbly. On the weekend, he seemed to be coming down with something and he had a few lapses in the Saturday performance, but one could see that his Higgins was something special, and arguably, one of his best roles to date. Ron Smerczak, one of this country's best actors these days not seen enough of on stage, is a personable Pickering and Lawrence Joffe's almost buxom Alfred Doolittle is wonderfully gregarious. There's a constant twinkle in his eye and his performance is packed with fun. If you close your eyes with Edele Strombeck's Mrs Pearce, it sounds as if Maggie Smith has slipped onto the stage. It's daring but she makes it work. Cobus Venter in the role of Freddy has a wonderful voice and again, he sings The Street Where You Live superbly.
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
Phantom is a Feast for Eyes and Ears!
Production: Phantom of the Opera Cast: Andre Schwartz, Rory Rootenberg, Lana English, Amy Hudson, Brennan Holder, Jonathan Taylor, Pieter Tredoux, Pauline du Plessis, Elizabeth, Frandsen, Marcus Desando Venue: Artscape Opera House Time: Tue - Fri: 7:30pm, Sat: 2:30pm & 7:30pm, Sun: 2:00pm & 7:30pm, from 2 Apr 2004. Price: R100 - R350 Performances: 2 Apr - 20 Jun 2004
An ominous sea of mist covers the stage. A small vessel glides through it, dimly lit by an array of orange lights, transporting a sinister masked man and beautiful young opera singer to his underworld labyrinth. The Phantom of the Opera has arrived in Cape Town!
Leading the cast as The Phantom, is Andre Schwartz, who succeeds in portraying his character as both an evil and bitter maniac and a sad, lonely, disfigured man who earns the audiences’ pity. His vocal delivery is impressive, ranging from booming performances of “The Music of the Night” to the soft, strangled goodbye in the final scene.
Amy Hudson, as Christine, has a sweet and beautiful voice, but lacks vocal power. Brennan Holden, playing Raoul has a clear, crisp delivery, but comes across rather wooden and unable to gain the audience’s support in his battle against The Phantom.
Pauline du Plessis brilliantly plays the haughty Italian prima donna Carlotta Guidicelli and Elizabeth Frandsen is quite imposing as Madame Giry. Jonathan Taylor and Pieter Tredoux as Messrs Firmin and André, the new theatre owners, provide great comic relief as a foil to the darkness of the play.
The support of the company is excellent and their vibrant, loud performance of “Masquerade” is surely one of the highlights of the show. The orchestra’s performance throughout the show is also excellent.
Although the music of Phantom of the Opera is beautiful to listen to and the performers a pleasure to watch, they are nearly upstaged by the magnificent wardrobe and intricate set design. Costumes range from elaborate, colourful and sequined dresses to plain white ballet costumes, the stark black dress of Madame Giry and the classic suits worn by Raoul, Firmin and André.
The set of Phantom of the Opera is something to beholden – the life-sized golden coloured angels and figurines that adorn the sides of the theatre, the chandelier that falls from the roof, the Phantom’s moving gantry, the boat and the detailed elephant from the Hannibal production. Gigantic set changes are done in complete darkness and near silence, and credit must go to all those involved in this production.
‘phantom’ Is A High Point In Sa Theatre
Bob Eveleigh On The Live Show Beat
The Phantom Of The Opera, Presented By Pieter Toerien and The Really Useful Group, Starring André Schwartz, Amy Hudson And Brennan Holder. Directed By Arthur Masella, Choreographed By Patricia Merrin, Production Design And Costumes By Maria Bjornson, Musical Direction By George Michie, Lighting Design By Andrew Bridge, After The Original London And Broadway Production Directed By Harold Prince And Choreographed By Gillian Lynne. (Artscape Opera House, Cape Town, To Mid-June).
IN 1984, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber bought a copy of Gaston Leroux’s book, Le Fantome de 1’Opèra at a New York second hand bookstall and a theatrical blockbuster was born.
South Africa has waited 18 years to see the show that is still the hottest ticket in London’s West End but, on the evidence of this superlative production, the wait has certainly been worth it, as it marks a definite new highpoint in the performing arts in this country, recognised by nightly standing ovations.
In a programme note written in 1990, original co-producer Cameron Mackintosh describes The Phantom of the Opera as “something that will always be a good, old-fashioned, highly theatrical, musical romance”.
But it is far, far more than that, as many South Africans will happily discover in the next few months.
This show is hardly a song and dance musical although both elements are present – but in almost operatic and classical style.
The score, for most of the time brooding and atmospheric, then romantic in tone, lightens only once in the 150 minutes the production runs.
That is when the various important personalities in the Paris Opera House, where the action is set, get together with the almost light-hearted lilting waltz, Prima Donna, which follows immediately after two of the show’s big hits; the title song and Music of the Night.
So the then (1986) young provider of the words to Lloyd Webber’s florid score, Charles Hart, functions more as a lyrical dramatist than a pure wordsmith.
And singing and acting those words are a trio of performers who have jumped to stardom with this show.
For those who know him as a TV presenter and popular singer in both Afrikaans and English, André Schwartz is a revelation as the Phantom.
He inhabits the role, eerily creepy and sympathetic by turns, and really comes into his own in the later scenes where the character must engender audience sympathy to really make the climax work.
And his singing is simply magnificent – not only in the two items already mentioned but also the final Point of No Return duet with the Phantom’s protegée, Christine.
In this part, Amy Hudson is quite wonderful.
Beautiful to look at yet with little major role experience other than two leads in amdram presentations, she sings beautifully, her clear soprano soaring through the likes of Angel of Music and Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again and in the big, “Greatest Hit” duet with Brennan Holder as Raoul, All I Ask of You.
And what a performance by PE-nurtured Brennan, whose stage presence and vocal quality are pleasures to behold and hear.
In addition, all three leads produce acting portrayals of the highest quality, their interplay with each other exciting to witness.
For Phantom, despite a plethora of minor characters – which are well played by a mix of talented veterans and newcomers (including the likes of Jonathan Taylor, Pieter Tredoux, Pauline du Plessis, Elizabeth Frandsen, Malcolm Terrey and Rouel Beukes) – really stands or falls by the three leading characterisations.
Among the supporting players, however, Pauline du Plessis, playing the fading star soprano Carlotta, must be singled out, for it is no easy role, requiring vocal power and the ability to intentionally sing off-key to delineate the character.
And she brings it off wonderfully.
Similarly the dancers, led by the virile Johan Jooste, contribute greatly to the show’s impact.
With production values the like of which this country’s theatergoers have never seen (the costumes in Masquerade, for example, are worth the price of admission alone, while the constantly changing settings, including such locales as the Phantom’s atmospheric candlelit lair and the Opera House front and backstage, are breath-taking), this entire presentation can only be described as the ultimate theatrical spectacle.
And there is always that falling chandelier, a striking theatrical special effect on its own.
With all this action, the tale is really a romantic musical thriller; Where will the vengeful Phantom strike next? Who will his victim be? Who will Christine choose as her ultimate lover?
And in true Hollywood style, with the brilliantly staged enigmatic surprise ending, is it any wonder that the theatrical world is eagerly awaiting a sequel from Andrew Lloyd Webber?
I can't wait to see it again!
14th April 2004
Argus Tonight Review
There has been many a spectacular production in the Artscape Opera House over the years but never anything as visually overwhelming as The Phantom of the Opera.
I could have said the same about Toerien's productions of Les Misérables and Cats on their opening nights but Phantom surpasses both.
It is beautifully sung, well acted and gorgeously costumed, a feast of eye candy from beginning to end. And the technical hijinks work splendidly. Upgrading the Artscape opera House has been well worth it.
Indeed, you haven't lived until you've seen a giant chandelier fall towards you in the audience or watched a gondola being punted towards you across a lake in the eerie catacombs under the Paris Opera House, the setting for this 19th-century romantic tale of obsessive love.
The story is based on a thriller by Gaston Leroux. It centres on a lonely, reclusive figure of deformed visage who dwells in depths of the opera house which he holds in terrifying thrall. As the story opens, the new owners of the venue are quick to find this out.
The Phantom, whose presence is introduced in voice-over, is soon seen scurrying about, a mask covering half his face. He is obsessed with an ingenue opera singer, Christine Daaé, whom he has been secretly teaching.
He wants the management to cast her in place of the resident prima donna, Carlotta Guidicelli, but the management is reluctant.
The impatient Phantom becomes more insistent, eventually throwing down the gauntlet - or rather an opera of his own which he demands that the management stage.
But when the Phantom realises Christine is in love with a handsome young aristocrat, Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, he becomes particularly rash and precipitate. But, in the nature of these things, love finds a way.
All the positive clichés apply in a well-directed show like this. There is simply never a dull moment. Even while the eye is drinking its fill of the visuals, the ear is responding to Andrew Lloyd Webber's glorious music, with those often exquisitely lovely lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe.
Gillian Lynne's choreography is delightfully suited to the ballet sequences in the operas-within-a-musical staged in the course of the story.
There are 10 scenes in the first half and each is a gem for one reason or another. For instance, the Phantom punting Christine through the labyrinthine underground in the build-up to the his big number, The Music of the Night. It, along with Raoul and Christine's All I Ask of You, are probably the best known songs from the show.
André Schwartz is a superb Phantom, a dominating, chilling presence, looking every inch the part, and he sings splendidly.
Petite Amy Hudson is a lovely Christine, and this role surely ensures a great future for her in musical theatre. She sings beautifully and must have won the hearts and minds of all who saw her on opening night.
Another career this production has surely launched is that of the personable Brennan Holder as Raoul. Trained as an actor, he too sings with great passion. He and Hudson make a perfect romantic couple.
There are several other impressive performances further down the billing. Pauline du Plessis as Carlotta is stunning to say the least, a dominating presence in all her scenes.
Another powerful presence is Elizabeth Frandsen as the stern ballet mistress. A delightful figure is Marcus Desanado as the portly Piangi, who sings opposite Carlotta.
There is clever casting - the well matched long and short of it - in the amusing Pieter Tredoux and Jonathan Taylor as the frazzled management types saddled with the increasing hassles the Phantom is causing.
Malcolm Terrey is on comfy ground as the auctioneer in the opening scene whence the story goes into flashback. It is also good to see an agile Johan Jooste back on stage as the slave master in the Hannibal ballet in Act One.
Two consecutive Act One scenes, both effectively septets, linger with me. The first, in which the management pleads with Carlotta to stay, has Pauline du Plessis on brilliant form.
It is followed by a scene from an opera called Il Muto in lavish Restoration costume in which she is again prominent as she sings Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh - until the wonderful bass, Sebastian Zokoza, comes on as the Fool - and steals the scene right away from everyone. Absolutely brilliant theatre.
The second act opens with another piece of sheer brilliance. It is New Year's Eve, the cast, all in fancy dress, are mounted on a staircase, a picture of glitz as they break into the splendid Masquerade, another lyrical gem featuring le tout ensemble.
The singing throughout is impressive, and the Australian musical supervisor, Guy Simpson, has worked hard at bringing it to this standard.
There is so much detail in the production that I cannot wait to see it again. Catch it while there are still seats!
By Derek Wilson
Director: Harold Prince for Pieter Toerien and the Really Useful Group Cast: Andre Schwarts, Amy Hudson, Brennan Holder, Jonathan Taylor, Pieter Tredoux, Pauline du Plessis, Marcus Desando Venue: Artscape Opera House until May 31