Luxe Life Blog
‘Phantom,’ Part 2: Fans say, ‘We’re going to come back one more time!’
On Wednesday, we posted my talk with the four principals of “Phantom -- the Las Vegas Spectacular” at the Venetian -- Tony Award-winning Anthony Crivello (Phantom), Kristi Holden (Christine Daae), Andrew Ragone (Raoul) and Tina Walsh (Madam Giri) -- about their bittersweet feelings about the musical celebrating its sixth anniversary last month, yet is closing Sept. 2. The second part of our conversation continues today.
Robin Leach: Are audiences coming back in droves because they know you’re coming to the end? Does the fan base get stronger as you get toward the closing?
Cast: Yes! You feel the energy of the audience as we’re starting to close. It’s exciting, but that will also be sad to say goodbye to the fans, the audiences. They are definitely coming more often. They are writing letters and stating, “We’re coming back! We’re going to come back one more time!” The devoted fans love this version because we kept the storyline so tight.
During Fan Week, it was funny to see all of these “Phantom” fans from all over the world go crazy. We don’t know where they will go after Sept. 2. It will just remain our legacy. We still want to leave them wanting more. They’ve repeatedly asked, “What will you do next?” They ask if we will continue doing “Phantom” somewhere else. One of the great things is the legacy of this show has gone on for so long. There’s no telling what will happen.
R.L.: I’m presuming that for each of you, “Phantom” was a dream gig; you couldn’t ask for a better show. So what part of it made it the dream gig?
Tina Walsh: It took me 19 years to get into this show! I auditioned back when the L.A. company was being formed. I was in my 20s, and they didn’t know where to put me. I’m a tall girl, and to audition for this and make it and finally get into it -- is that my dream job? It was a dream 19 years ago! To work with all of the creative team has truly been a blessing. I am so grateful that I have had this experience.
Kristi Holden: Well, after multiple auditions for this original company to finally become Christine before the first anniversary was very, very exciting. I think Christine is every soprano’s dream role in musical theater. What’s amazing about Christine is that she’s an ingenue who gets to go on a really great journey. A lot of ingenue roles are very sweet and soppy without much grit to it.
I think as far as singing and acting, this has been extremely demanding, but it’s been a joy to grow as an artist and a singer and an actress and all-around performer. It’s been an amazing journey on so many levels personally and as an artist. It’s rare to get to play a role like this. She’s a strong woman.
Andrew Ragone: When I was growing up, I had a voice teacher and I was in the audience of the San Francisco company. It was one of the shows that made me say I wish that I could be onstage singing that music and affecting people that way. So when this opportunity came, I thought this is my life coming full circle from when I was a kid. Since the show has been around for so long, I got to dream of being in the show and then be in it at this level.
Anthony Crivello: I was on Broadway and the great opera singer Beverly Sills was in and very complimentary about me. She told my director Hal Prince that they might use me at the Met. Hal said I was very good, very talented -- but staying right where I was in musical theater: “He’s not going anywhere!” I said, “Thanks a lot!” “No, no, listen, somewhere along the lines, we’ve got to get you playing in ‘Phantom.’ ” And here it is eight years later talking about my role as the Phantom.
This particular experience has been monumental. Working with Hal, with everyone from the beginning, with the luxury of a rehearsal period because this was a reconceptualized version, they were all there. And they’re all still very hands on. It’s a thrill I continue to work with them.
Then I asked Anthony as the Phantom if he’d played in all 2,614 shows.
A.C.: No! Nobody has, not even the conductor. By the time we get to Sept. 2, I’ll be at #2,250, by far the longest run of my life. Six-plus years.
R.L.: Is there an added responsibility in being the actor that plays the title role, even though nobody really sees you.
A.C.: It’s rare, and it has happened more so now after six years that people recognize the face under the mask. Sometimes even if people recognize me, they don’t want to approach the Phantom. There have been those instances where somebody will say something to me. It’s rewarding. Of course every actor wants to be recognized.
In a sense, I am the father of the family, so I have to lead by example. Of course there is that responsibility of wanting to only because of the title role, but the caliber of people you’re working with and surrounding and representing and the people who are your bosses, there’s a great deal of responsibility.
R.L.: The Phantom can’t screw up?
A.C.: God, I hope not! I mean it’s live theater, too, and it’s not saying that things don’t happen. They do happen. Obviously, when you’re running a long, long race like this, sometimes you hit bumps in the road, and you’ve just got to try and push through it and put one foot in front of the other. It’s a testimony to the type of work that was done by the creatives and the talent and the company that is here.
R.L.: Do you all marvel at this work Andrew Lloyd Webber created?
A.C.: If it hadn’t been for the economy, I think it could have run another 10 years. In London, it’s been playing since 1986, and I think it will run forever there. Economically in Las Vegas, it’s run its course, but the irony is that since we announced the closing, business has been fabulous again.
Like any repetitive motion, we are all a little tired, and doing opera in the desert does get to you. It will be nice to take a break, but the strange thing is that a month later, all of us will be longing to do it again. The music doesn’t get told.
We’ve sung it a million times, but it’s so well orchestrated, and this music is just so haunting. All of us find something wonderfully new with it every night. Young or old, the music really does it for you. It will be with all of us forever.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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