An update, a few thoughts and more

Life is slowly getting back to normal, or at least as normal as my life ever is. This past year has been rife with emergencies of various sorts, changes and challenges. In other words, it’s been life. But things are settling down now and it looks like I will finally be able to get the backlog of editing for NRP finished in the next week, one project by the end of the weekend. Better yet, it means the writing is also getting back on track and that’s good because I do want to try to finish Duty from Ashes in time to bring it out next month.

Last night was an all too rare night out at the theater. I went to the Winspear Opera House  in Dallas to see the latest touring company of Phantom of the Opera. I’ll admit I went with some reservations because of all the hype about the way Cameron McIntosh and company had updated the show. I’ll admit from the outset that the sets were much better than the original production. But there were problems with the production, some which were corrected in the second act, but others were did take away from some of the enjoyment. But what surprised me were some subtle changes that only someone familiar with the original production would catch and that left me wondering if Andrew Lloyd Weber and company might be considering trying to resurrect the sequel to Phantom.

An example of what I’m talking about happened in the very first scene. In every production I’ve seen, the character wheeled onstage in a wheelchair is an elderly Raoul. In this staging, Raoul is walking around unaided and, when he bids, his voice is strong. There is a figure in a wheelchair who bids on the mechanical monkey and it turns out to be a woman. She loses the bidding to Raoul, so she isn’t identified. But, if you were watching what happened onstage immediately following the reveal of the chandelier, it turns out that the woman is the former dance mistress, Madame Giry. It’s a minor difference but enough to have me looking for others.

The music was basically the same as the original. I say basically because there were several occasions where the tempo was sped up, changing something that hinted at haunting into something else. It didn’t ruin it but it dulled the emotional impact of the scene when it happened.

The good — the cast was, overall, very good. I especially liked Raoul. For once he was a strong presence onstage and had a wonderful voice. The bad — the Phantom was only so-so. One of the friends I went with described it as seeming like he was trying to sing “phantomy”, ie like he might not really exist but was only something of Christine’s imagination. The effect was to dilute the impact of the role, especially in the first act. He was stronger in the second act, fortunately.

My biggest disappointment was the final scene. After building up the tension with the Don Juan duet between the Phantom and Christine, the chase where Raoul and the theater company plus the police try to find the two was basically removed. Yes, you did have Madame Giry and Meg telling Raoul to keep one hand at face level and Madame Giry showing him how to get to the Phantom’s lair, but that frantic, almost frenetic staging of the scene was gone and the final scene in the lair was a bit flat.

Other than that — and the fact that the choreography for the masquerade sequence looked like it had been done by Madonna — it was an enjoyable evening. These are nitpicky issues from someone who has seen Phantom too many times and kept seeing how the new staging not only seemed to be trying to tie in with the sequel which bombed and with the movie. It was clear from the reaction of the family behind us who had never seen the musical that they loved it. My overall recommendation is to go see it if it comes to your area.

All that said, I still think you don’t need to muck with something if it is working.

HuntedFinally, the countdown special for Hunted (Hunter’s Moon Book 1) is still going on. If you enjoy mystery, romance and shapeshfiters, check it out. It is only $1.99 today.

When Meg Finley’s parents died, the authorities classified it as a double suicide. Alone, hurting and suddenly the object of the clan’s alpha’s desire, her life was a nightmare. He didn’t care that she was grieving any more than he cared that she was only fifteen. So she’d run and she’d been running ever since. But now, years later, her luck’s run out. The alpha’s trackers have found her and they’re under orders to bring her back, no matter what. Without warning, Meg finds herself in a game of cat and mouse with the trackers in a downtown Dallas parking garage. She’s learned a lot over the years but, without help, it might not be enough to escape a fate she knows will be worse than death. What she didn’t expect was that help would come from the local clan leader. But would he turn out to be her savior or something else, something much more dangerous?

(This is a new edition of the novel and there is some new back material.)


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