ACTUAL PHANTOM CANCELS PARIS PRODUCTION?
Everyone's buzzing about the Andrew Lloyd Webber mashup on Good Morning America and deservedly so - it's ridiculously awesome (see video below). However, the real ALW news for the week was in Paris. Producers of what was to be a Parisian production of The Phantom of the Opera had to finally succomb to what seems to be demands from the Phantom himself and officially cancel it.
Let's start from the beginning: Broadway has barely made it to France. Musical theater productions in France are more like spectacles (think the Radio City Christmas Spectacular) than shows like Dear Evan Hansen or Hamilton and are usually put on in arenas the size of Madison Square Garden. However, a company called Stage Entertainment has been bringing one Broadway-caliber show to Paris each year for the past few years, with a focus on the Disney musicals. Just like a national tour, they usually have the same set and costume design, direction, and score as the Broadway production. The only difference is that the lyrics and book are translated into -- and then performed in -- French. Past productions include le Roi Lion (The Lion King), la Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast), and Cats. Sadly, they didn't translate that title and it would have been a lot more fun if they had called it Chats.
Last summer, it was announced that Paris would borrow Broadway's Sierra Boggess to play Christine in "le Fantôme de l'Opéra". She finished up her run in School of Rock, moved to Paris, brushed up on her French, started rehearsals, and even filmed promos (see one below). The crazy thing to know is that Le Théâtre Mogador, which is owned by Stage Entertainment and is where they put up all of their shows, is a mere two blocks away from the actual Opera made famous by The Phantom of the Opera...suspiciously close enough to have secret underground passageways from the Phantom's lairs at the Opera house to the bowels of the Mogador. See where we're going here?
Three weeks before the first preview in October, the Mogador's basement (!) mysteriously caught fire in what appears to be the work of a malicious attempt to bring down the show. The production was immediately delayed for the foreseeable future and Sierra Boggess returned to NYC. Months later, the producers finally released a statement this week that the production was no longer delayed, but officially canceled instead. The theater won't be ready to be open to the public again until September 2017, when they will open a production of Grease (in French!), which they had already committed to...so the Fantôme has won again.
Lesson to learn? Don't try to put up a production of The Phantom of the Opera two blocks from where the actual Phantom has lived for centuries. He will take it DOWN, son...and our beloved Sierra Boggess with it! This would be like staging a production of The Lion King next to Pride Rock and being surprised when Scar sends a herd of hyenas to trample the audience. Just don't do it.
The silver lining? Boggess is back and active in the NYC theater scene again, performing at the New York Musical Festival gala in November. We lose her again to Australia next summer for a short summer tour, but...c'est la vie.
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