Tag: Theater

Theater Fans, Say Goodbye to ‘Phantom of the Opera’…Sort Of

For the uninitiated, Phantom of the Opera is a musical with music written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe. It’s based on a 1910 novel of the same name by Gaston Leroux. The musical opened in 1986 in London’s West End. It had been running for 34 years, until March 2020 when the theater had to close because of the coronavirus.

And yet, as theater fans—not just in the U.K. but around the world—waited with bated breath for the reopening of society and the theater, Cameron Mackintosh, the producer of the musical, announced that Phantom of the Opera would be closing permanently. After a run of 34 years since 1986, Phantom of the Opera’s curtains and infamous chandelier will not be rising again, even after other shows open again.

Image Via Twin Cities Arts Reader

At least, that’s what the original statement was. In the U.K.’s Evening Standard newspaper, Mackintosh wrotean article about how untenable opening theaters back up was in the current pandemic. And since there’s no end in sight, he had to make huge downsizes to his company to make sure it would survive. Mackintosh knew this was coming—he wrote:

In early May I warned Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden and the Government that [downsizing] would be necessary unless we received financial help. Despite the recent announcement of a £1.57 billion rescue fund for the arts, this help still hasn’t materialized.

Unfortunately, this meant he had to make some tough decisions.

“Andrew [Lloyd Webber] and I have had to sadly permanently shut down our London and U.K. touring productions of The Phantom of the Opera, but are determined to bring it back to London in the future.”

While his comma use is questionable, his intentions are not—he wants to bring the musical back to London. But he also said that it is closed permanently. These two statements seem contradictory. How can the musical be closed permanently and yet hopefully will be brought back?

Image Via Classic FM

Well, the answer lies in a statement made to The Stage by The Really Useful Group, which is owned by Lloyd Webber and produces, licenses, and promotes his shows. The president of the Really Useful Group, Jessica Koravos, said:

What Cameron [Mackintosh] was meaning to say is, we have closed down the production entity that has been that [production of] The Phantom of the Opera for 34 years, and have closed down the physical production. Even before the pandemic hit, we were already in a process of going carefully through the physical production, some parts of it already having been decommissioned. There are systems in that set you could not get the replacement parts for me any more—they just aren’t made after 34 years.

What does that mean? They’re permanently closing down the production of The Phantom of the Opera that’s been running for 34 years, but they’re not permanently stopping showing a production of the musical. It’ll be back as the same glorious musical it’s always been, just with some necessary updates needed. It’s basically a reboot.

The musical is going to return unchanged, with the same work done by the original creative team, including director Hal Prince and designer Maria Björnson. But they needed to update the physical set itself, because it’s been more than three decades and it’s probably getting a little rusty.

Koravos added that they had planned to do a period of closure in a few years to do said renovations, but after the pandemic forced a close, they couldn’t afford to do two. So, honestly, it’s pretty efficient that they’re doing the reboot now instead of in a few years.

Phantom of the Opera set
Image Via Lincoln Journal Star

Furthermore, once they looked at the set, it became clear that the building itself also needed work. So they need to do repairs on the set and the building, and they can’t even work on the building until the whole set is out.

But, theater fans, the gist of it is that you don’t have to worry, The Phantom of the Opera will be returning in all its glory. They just need to do some renovations and add in some new technology, but the show will continue to be “the brilliant original.”

So when will The Phantom of the Opera be back in London? It’s difficult to say. Koravos said, “Unlike some other shows that can say they will reopen as soon as social distancing ends, we have these other issues which means we are not able to give people a date, and so could not in all good faith keep people hanging on for a genuinely unknown length of time.”

They’re working hard to update the musical and keep it working, so fans just need to be patient. It will be back. The theater venue will be waiting—no other show will take The Phantom of the Opera’s place. Not that it could, anyway.

Featured Image Via Entertainment Weekly

Celebrate National Theater Day With 7 Amazing Plays

As you may have seen all over your Instagram feed, today is National Theater Day! To celebrate all things theatrical, we’ve got seven great plays that definitely deserve a spot on your TBR (cast)list.

1. A street Car named desire 

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

This play is the instant classic written by Tennessee Williams. It’s the story of how Blanche DuBois, the once beautiful, southern belle, is pushed over the edge by her brother-in law Stanley Kowalski. It’s not a story for the faint of heart, but it is very important in the canon of American theater.

2. Who’s Afraid of VIRGINIA Woolf? 

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Another play important in the American canon is Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The play takes you into the dysfunctional lives of George and Martha. They are hosting a party for a new history professor and his wife. George and Martha use their new “play things” to stir up drama and expose the horrors of not only their own lives, but of the couple who just wanted to have a nice evening.

 

3. A raisin in the sun 

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Lorraine Hansberry’s classic A Raisin in the Sun is another book that all who love both great writing and great theater should read. The story is a bit of a tragic one, following an African-American working class family hoping to get out of the South-Side of Chicago. It gives a look into the aspirations and hopes, but also what can hold back a black family in the mid-20th century.

4. Medea 

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Medea is a Greek myth by Euripides, who’s english translations are done by Gilbert Murray. The myth is about a proud Amazonian women who’s left by her husband Jason. Jason leaves her to marry the kings daughter, so he himself can one day hold the throne. The short play is about Medea’s revenge, and execution of said revenge on her ex-husband.

5. Angels in America 

angels in america

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Tony Kushner’s Angels in America shows an insight into the horrors of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. It follows the stories of three groups; a proud gay man with AIDS and the impact it has on him and his lover, the closeted Roy Cohen who has “liver cancer” (or so he says), based on the real-life figure, and a man in an unhappy marriage who’s slowly coming to terms with his sexuality.

6. The curious incident of the Dog in the night-Time 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time book cover

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

This modern play by Mark Haddon is on its way to becoming a classic for theater lovers. It tells the story of 15-year old Christopher Boone has Asperger’s Syndrome. Although living a very sheltered life, the boy is a whiz with numbers and mysteries. He observes his neighbor’s dog being killed one night, and that starts his journey to not only finding who killed the dog, but finding himself along the way.

 

7. Our town 

our town cover

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Thornton Wilder’s Our Town is a glimpse into what living in a small town in America was like during the early 20th-century. The play, set in Grover’s Conner, New Hampshire, is split into three acts with the first act focusing on the daily happenings of the town, the second on love and marriage, and the third is the most grim, discussing death.

feature image via commentary magazine

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‘Sea Wall/ A Life’ Becomes Audible Production

As Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge conclude their Broadway run of Sea Wall/A Life, Audible assumes the production to make it more accessible to a wider audience.

 

Image result for sea wall a life

Image via Broadway SHows

Sea Wall/ A Life opened at the Hudson Theater on August 8 following a successful Off-Broadway run. The show featured two different monologues read by the two main characters. Sturridge plays Alex. Simon Stephen’s Sea Wall monologue portrays a photographer on holiday. Nick Payne’s A Life following Gynllenhaal’s George- a music producer expecting his first child.

 

 

With the price of Broadway shows increasing every year, Audible widens its mission to creating theater more accessible for everyone regardless of wealth or geographic location.

 

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Image via Vogue

 

Gyllenhaal and Sturridge will read their respective monologues as part of an Audible original production after they conclude their Broadway run. The play and stories are sure to made any listener cry, whether you experience it in person on the stage or on your commuter through your headphones.

 

 

 

Featured Image via Playbill