“Phantom” US tour: Old Cast vs New Cast

I saw “The Phantom of the Opera” U.S., tour three times, twice with the old cast and once with the new cast. I have noticed some differences between the way the characters are portrayed by the actors and actresses.

I saw Cooper Grodin twice as the Phantom and while he had a good voice, it was not very strong. He did not have a great presence for the role and his portrayal was violent, much like book Phantom. He also had terrible blocking.

There was also no chemistry between him and Julia Udine (Christine), which made it impossible to feel any compassion for him when he sang, “Christine, I love you,” at the end of the musical. It made it seem surprising that the Phantom loved her at all.

Chris Mann had a great and powerful voice. When he walked on stage he had the presence of the Phantom and he was not as violent as Grodin. However, I did not see the love he had for Christine until the second act, which is better than showing no love at all.

I saw Julia Udine twice as well and she was a fantastic Christine. She had a great voice and I could understand her perfectly. I really have no complaints about her at all.

Katie Travis was a great singer, in the words of Raoul “no doubt of it.” However, she was hard to understand at some points. She was a good Christine though.

I saw Nick Cartell as Raoul twice, once with each cast, and I notice a difference with both.

While with Julia Udine and Copper Grodin he sounded louder than he did with Chris Mann and Katie Travis. I am assuming that this is because Grodin did not have a strong voice and presence, while Mann did. Mann is also the more experienced singer, having been on “The Voice.”

Cartell sounded a bit quiet with Travis and Mann. Overall he was a great Raoul.

“Phantom of the Opera” 2015 tour review

I saw “Phantom of the Opera” on tour again April 24, 2015. The cast included Chris Mann as the Phantom, Katie Travis as Christine and Nick Cartell as Raoul. This was my third time seeing the new tour, but my first with the new cast and I loved it.

Taking place in an opera house in the late 1800s, the Phantom (Mann) is a man who haunts the opera house and terrorizes everyone in it. He is love with and tutors the young Swedish soprano, Christine Daae’ (Travis), who is in love with childhood sweetheart Raoul de Chagny (Cartell). This is a story with love, revenge and chandeliers.

The set is amazing and looks like an opera house. The stairs during the title song are one of the best parts of the set and never cease to amaze me. Of course nothing can beat the original.

Mann was great as the Phantom. He had a great presence, voice and look for the part. His Phantom was a bit sassy at times and a tad violent. His chemistry with Travis was more teacher-pupil, but more loving in act two. It was not until the last line he sang that Mann really showed how much power is in his voice.

Travis did a good job as Christine. She had a great voice, but it was a bit hard to understand her at some points. She really showed her fear for the Phantom and how much weight was being held on her character in the second act.

Cartell was understudying for Storm Lineberger as Raoul and he did a good job. He was a bit hard to hear, but he made up for that in “All I Ask of You.” However, he cut Travis off a bit to soon on the last line, but during the song they acted like two young adults in love for the first time. It was cute.

The rest of the cast was amazing as well. Edward Juvier was a good Piangi, it is hard to believe he is an understudy. Edward Staudenmayer was great as Adre and Davis Benot was a hilarious Firmin. Jacquelynne Fontaine was fabulous Carlotta she had a beautiful voice.

Anne Kanengeiser was amazing as Madame Giry, it is no wonder she played the role on Broadway. She had that intimidation that the role should have. Morgan Cowling was great as Meg, she had a powerful voice and it really showed in “Angel of Music.”

Overall it was a “Phantastic” performance with all of the magic that the show brings to the stage. If you get the chance to see this cast I recommend it.

Why “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” should be on Broadway

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Michael Arden as Quasimodo and Ciara Renee as Esmeralda

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is a well-known Disney movie based off the novel of the same name by Victor Hugo, with several major differences. In 2015 the Paper Mill theatre brought the magic of this film to an off-Broadway production, which many theatre fans would love to see on Broadway.

The off-Broadway production cast included Michael Arden as Quasimodo, Ciara Renee as Esmeralda, Patrick Page as Frollo and Andrew Samonsky as Phoebus. The production ended April 5, 2015 and was a success among audiences. Now the fans of the show want to see it on Broadway, which would give more people the opportunity to see it compared to the off-Broadway production.

Taking place in France, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is a powerful story about a disfigured man named Quasimodo who spends his life as a bell ringer in the Notre Dame tower. His master, Frollo, tells him to never enter the outside world. He falls for the gypsy girl Esmeralda, who sees him as a person and gives him the friendship he has never known. Along the way Esmeralda falls for captain of the guard Phoebus, who later befriends Quasimodo as well.

The story is dark, but it deals with the important messages of poverty, lower class vs. higher class, friendship, love, selflessness and “what makes a monster and what makes a man.” It is a moving and truly powerful story.

While I have never seen the off-Broadway production, I have heard great things about it through social media. I heard that the cast is amazing and it was a great and powerful musical.

If it were to come to Broadway it would attract more people, bring in new talent, new music and more Disney magic to the stage. The story itself is more real compared to other Disney productions and that is one of the reasons why “Hunchback” should come to Broadway.