83 years! Yes, you read that right -- 83 years. And who is the longest working performer according to the Guinness Book of World Records? Israeli actress Hanna Maron, who is 87 years old and began her stage career at age 4. Known as the 'first lady of Israeli theater', she immigrated to the country in 1933 (before it was a country) and is onstage now in the Cameri Theater production of 'The Baggage Packer'.
Click here for the jweekly.com story on her and for her current production, here. Wow!
Posted on: Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 11:46 AM Posted by:Robert Diamond
If you haven't seen his well known 2005 Stanford commencement speech, here's a video below that I think certainly applies to whatever you are doing with your life and it's a good day to watch, or re-watch his inspirational words.
With the first notes of the show's explosive overture ringing out for the final time at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday night, (and streamed live to movie theatres all around the world), the show was off and running again in top form. Even having had seen the show many times before, including the previous night - I still found myself carried away.
Phantom is a show like none-other, and the perfect alchemy that came together of music, lyrics, cast and creative team for the original production is a true testament to the power of musical theatre. When it all comes together perfectly (a rare feat), the result can be a show that lasts for generations. The tidal wave in which Phantom-mania hit the world in the late 80's hadn't been seen before, and hasn't since. Full credit goes to to the work of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart, Richard Stilgoe, Hal Prince, Maria Bjornson, Gillian Lynne and the show's original leads - Michael Crawford, Sarah Brightman and Steve Barton, amongst I'm sure loads of others.
The concerts at Royal Albert Hall were as much a celebration of the talented individuals who first brought these indelible characters to life as they were for the show's success - 25 countries, 100+ million audience members and the highest-grossing entertainment of all time.
Now, with two performances under their belts, the cast was universally in even finer form than Saturday night's debut. It's a shame that Sunday was this company's last performance together, but thankfully it's been captured for DVD, Blu-ray and CD release (coming November 2011 in the UK, February 2012 in the US for those keeping track).
Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo once again triumphed and both received many enthusiastic ovations from fans watching in movie theatres worldwide and those of us lucky enough to be in the sold out Royal Albert Hall. They managed to embody the characters that were created some 25 years prior with respect and love, paying homage to the original creations while at the same time making choices both big and small that made them uniquely all their own. A better pair of performers could not have been picked for these special nights.
As Christine, Boggess got to show off her soaring soprano voice and possibly due to her appearance in the show's sequel, she brought a rich and deep characterization that showed her true struggle with whom to choose. Even though you know from early on in the show that logic dictates Christine will ultimately wind up with Raoul, she seemed more hesitant in that decision than those I've seen play the part before.
Her chemistry with Karimloo was again perfect and together they ‘knocked it out of the park' with heart, acting and song. His Phantom straddled the line between the romance and tragic horror and his powerful singing voice helped to carry the night and fill the large hall.
The night's special post-show surprises were even more poignant than previous nights and again began with the entrance of Andrew Lloyd Webber to a boisterous standing ovation. He then introduced the show's original London cast, producer extraordinaire Cameron Mackintosh and as a special surprise, original Phantom Michael Crawford, whom he noted had ‘hot footed' it on over from playing the Wizard at the London Palladium across town in The Wizard of Oz.
Crawford, who unfortunately didn't sing, was visibly moved by the audience's reaction to his onstage appearance (the loudest of the night) and to what the night was celebrating. He was then joined on stage for an emotional reunion with original Christine, Sarah Brightman, who sung the show's title song with a collection of Phantom ‘All-Stars' including Colm Wilkinson, John Owen Jones and Anthony Warlow. This was followed by the Phantoms singing ‘Music of the Night' which brought Crawford, Brightman, Karimloo & Boggess back on stage, hand in hand - stars old and new - to an even louder ovation as the song came to a close.
In one especially magical moment, Karimloo paid tribute and bowed to Crawford, the man who first brought soul, heart and life to the character as he sang. Together with the company, creative team and special guests, the overflowing talent on stage brought the music of the night to a truly perfect close. As the audience began to file out of the theatre, cast members thrust Boggess and Karimloo back on stage for a final ovation, at which he carried her off stage. What a way to end the night. Those of us then lucky enough to attend the very glamorous party at London's Museum of Natural History found cast members past, present (and probably future) mingling together with family and loved ones celebrating the immense amount of work that went into putting the weekend together and the show's rich history. Over a seemingly never ending supply of beautifully catered food and drink, the party went into the wee-hours of the morning.
Here's to another 25 years...
Next question - what will Broadway do to mark their anniversary in January of 2013?
Oh what a (first) night! I'm going to keep the spoilers to as much of a minimum as I can in tonight's report, since I'm a firm believer in keeping some surprises for those who will see it in the coming day(s), but there are naturally some, so read on with caution if you don't like being spoiled.
First off - the staging. Previous concerts at the Royal Albert Hall have been known for their casts of hundreds and for very large orchestras, but never before has one been so staged as PHANTOM was...in fact, it was nearly a complete production. A few set pieces weren't there, and the chandelier featured fireworks instead of making its way down (or up). Digital backdrops filled in beautifully along with a specially constructed proscenium arch to create the world of the show, that we all know and love. You won't miss any of what wasn't there, and the size, scope and additions should satisfy one and all. Most of these looked great live and should look even sharper on screen and help to provide perfect settings for the show and some new treats as well like a ‘Phantom Cam' which showed him writing some of his infamous notes.
Second, one of the many highlights was the expanded orchestrations and the larger than usual orchestra, which resulted in the show sounding better than I've ever heard it before, truly thrilling for tonight's sold out audience.
I'll admit that I am 100% biased and performance wise and topping the chemistry, passion and creations of the characters by the original leads would be (I think) impossible for me as the work that Michael Crawford, Sarah Brightman and Steve Barton did will go down as a highlight of musical theatre history. That said, tonight's trio of the glorious voiced Sierra Boggess as Christine, Hadley Fraser as Raoul and the powerful Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom were all absolutely wonderful and received an instant and explosive standing ovation that threatened to 'blow the roof' off of the Royal Albert Hall. Simply put, it's been the best production of the show that I've seen myself, and I'd argue, perhaps the best on any stage...in more than two decades.
I had the pleasure of seeing Boggess as ‘Christine' in Las Vegas (along with her other Broadway roles of course), and enjoyed her and Karimloo in LOVE NEVER DIES. Here together in THIS show for the first time, the chemistry between them is palpable and electrifying and both have grown immensely as performers. They perform alongside a cast of 200(!) and songs like 'Masquerade' exploded with burst of sound that can only come from so many voices. The production succeeds with both the show's smaller moments feeling as intimate as a traditional stage, and the larger moments greatly expanded.
At the end of the show, there were multiple special treats for Phantom ‘Phans' the world over including appearances by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cameron Mackintosh, and Gillian Lynne who paid appropriate homage to designer Maria Bjornson, original Raoul Steve Barton (sorely missed), and the other members of the original production that are no longer with us.
Next out on stage was most of the show's original cast, sans Michael Crawford who was performing across town in THE WIZARD OF OZ tonight. (Here's hoping for a Sunday night appearance when OZ is dark!). Sarah Brightman sang along with multiple Phantom alumni including Colm Wilkinson, John Owen Jones, Peter Jöback and Anthony Warlow - truly a night to remember.
If you haven't yet gotten your tickets for the screening(s), now is the time to do so. If you love the show, you will love this concert. If you enjoyed the show, but haven't seen it for years, or if it's your first time, it will surely sweep you away with the...Music of the Night...
It was March 12, 1994 when a young, 15 year-old Rob Diamond saw THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA on Broadway for the first time, and came home on ‘cloud nine’, my life forever changed. I still remember vividly falling asleep that night listening to and discovering Michael Crawford, Sarah Brightman, Steve Barton and more on the show’s original cast recording. I did this listening to a cassette tape that my parents had (which I had of course never before listened to), on my Walkman.
Today, instead of on a Walkman, millions of new theatre fans find their favorites, and learn all about them, right here on BroadwayWorld – something that inspires me every day and something that made me all the more excited to take this look back on my personal journey. I’ve never forgotten my ‘first time’ in March of 1994, which was of course already several years into the show’s Broadway run. The musical first began previews in London’s West End on September 27, 1986 and opened just 2 weeks later on October 9, 1986 (such a short preview period!). It hit Broadway in January of 1988, so we have another year and a half before we’ll see another celebration on our side of the pond.
PHANTOM inspired my theatrical journey, a huge inspiration for the talents of Michael Crawford, trips around the globe and ultimately led me to starting BroadwayWorld.com in 2003 (more on that some other time!).
It was therefore with great excitement that we arrived in London on Friday morning, September 30th to help celebrate the show’s phenomenal 25th anniversary weekend. The Royal Albert Hall has been home to many special events over the years, including the 10th Anniversary Celebration of LES MISERABLES that’s always on constant rotation in my iTunes and the 2008 CHESS concerts with Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, Josh Groban & Kerry Ellis amongst others.
Tonight, we’re off to the Royal Albert Hall for the first concert – stay tuned!
In honor of the show's 5th Anniversary in London, they've launched a brand-new web site for WICKED in the West End @ http://www.wickedthemusical.co.uk/. It's slick, it's clean, easy to find what you're looking for and unlike some of the over-Flash heavy sites it's also easy to share information, copy/paste and all those other wonderful things that are sometimes ignored when visuals are placed ahead of usability. Kudos to them!
Talking to NY Post gossip maven Cindy Adams, the soon to be back on Broadway star talks about how much she enjoys the quiet of Barrier Island, and a little bit about how the appropriately named An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin came to be. Click here for the full story...
Looking to take your theatre, production company or show's Tweeting up a few notches?
Howard Sherman has got a must-read blog up at 2amtheatre.com, entitled IT'S YOU in which he gives his take on who's doing it right, who's doing it wrong and on what it really means to engage with your audience.
Just in case you missed our news last week, here is the announcement below... I've personally jumped in and have joined our new Expert Team myself in answering a number of inquiries and it's been one of my new favorite daily things to check-in on. The pile of thank you notes that we've received from those that have booked tickets with our personalized help is extremely gratifying as well. Check out the information below and stay tuned for some other exciting announcements...soon!
Earlier this year, BroadwayWorld.com, the largest theatre site on the Internet, launched its newest feature designed expressly for the millions of monthly visitors (national, international, tri-state, and local) who make BroadwayWorld.com their first stop when deciding which shows to see. The recently launched Pick-A-Show application offered individuals seeking Broadway show recommendations the ability to select from a variety of categories readers and ticket buyers have identified as their most important - including Family Friendly, Critical Picks, Word of Mouth, Star-Driven Shows, Limited Runs, Feel Good Musicals and Plays, Dramas and more - before spending their ticketing dollars.
Now, based on user-demand, the site has added two exclusive new features to its industry-leading Pick-a-Show feature. First, users can now enter their zip code to find regional shows (musicals, plays, opera, dance, comedy, concerts, amateur and school productions and more) near them in more than 50 markets across the country. By the end of 2011, this service will be completely available in all of BroadwayWorld.com's 130 regional markets across the United States and around the world.
Also, for an even more personal touch, ticket buyers can now get personalized, expert advice straight from BroadwayWorld.com's team of ticket buying experts who will offer custom, specialized recommendations on what shows to see, when and how to get the best tickets and other insider tips. Just enter the date and show that you're looking for, and our experts will give you their best advice on getting the best deals!