Report 5 - Report from Martin Wombwell
My wife and I
booked up to see Paul in Phantom of the Opera as soon as I read about it on the Internet.
At first I thought it may have been a hoax but as we all know by now it wasn't.
We decided to wait until mid June knowing that the first shows would almost, if not already sold out. I called the Pantages booking office and got two centre seats for the Friday 11th June. Good to their word they even sold them at 1989 prices.
We stayed at the Delta Chelsea hotel which I found out to be the official Phantom of the Opera hotel. This was five minutes walk to the entrance of the theatre on Yonge Street. Outside the theatre was a large poster of Paul as the Phantom as well as his name above the entrance.
Rather than send the tickets to the UK the theatre told us to pick them up at the box office using our passports as identification. We went to the box office on the Friday morning. The place was empty apart from a few staff floating around the sales counter where numerous items of Kiss merchandise including CD Holders, T-Shirts and Caps were prominently displayed. These sat rather nicely along side more traditional Phantom trinkets including broaches and the post card set featuring Paul.
After picking up our tickets we began to wander up and down the main street. All the record stores had vast Kiss sections. HMV on Yonge Street had what only could be described as a palet of Ace and Peter dolls with mini albums going for about two pounds each. Other stores had Japanese imports, books, videos and DVD's. It was in one of these stores where I managed to pick up a copy of "Then They Kissed Me - A Dance Orgasm". Also a number of the free magazines and newspapers were running articles on Paul playing the Phantom.
Friday night came around quickly. A large crowd had gathered outside the theatre even though the doors were already open. This was fringed by a number of locals who were selling red roses. Once through the door you had the opportunity to purchase pretty much the same merchandise as I outlined earlier. A poster / information sheet about Paul was inserted into the program which cost about four pounds.
Once we sat down I had an opportunity to look around the sold out theatre to see who else was there. There were very few people who looked like obvious Kiss fans, maybe even only ten to fifteen. Anyway, if you remember the voice that Gene and Paul do of the Bus driver they had from Kentucky on Konfidential. Well I'm sure one of his relations was sat behind us. From overhearing his conversation it was apparent that he did not even know who Paul was.
The lights dimmed and the show started. Rather than string out the story I've decided to list key points on Pauls performance and the show in general.
Throughout the performance Paul seemed to glide across the stage as though he'd been doing this for years rather than weeks. I'd heard reports that he appeared nervous at the first few shows but we saw nothing but a confident professional revelling in this opportunity.
The other males in the cast seemed to speak loadly rather than sing. Paul's voice however was powerful and passionate. I was expecting it to be a bit creeky towards the top end of the scale similar to "I Was Made For Lovin' You" live but is was crystal clear, almost like certains songs from "The Elder".
The only point where you went yeah that's Paul, was during the song "The Phantom of the Opera". Towards the climax of this epic he shouts "Sing for me" to Christine. You almost expected him to follow it through with "I can't here you Toronto - get off your asses people" but he did'nt.
My wife thought Paul's legs appeared to be a lot shorter in suit trouser and shoes rather than skin tight black leather ones we're all familiar with. I suppose they did a bit !
Towards the end of the show The Phantom takes Christine down to his lair where he begs her to stay with him forever. Raoul comes after Christine and gets caught in the Phantoms trap. It is during these scenes where Paul performance is at it's best. He is seen begging Christine to choose between them. After a moving performance Christine leaves the lair with Raoul (My wife could not understand how she could leave Paul) and Paul can be seen crawling, tearfully across the stage towards a musical toy monkey. On reaching the toy which appears to be cradling his head, he begins to sing to himself before moving to his throne from which he vanishes.
The entire cast came onstage to a round of applause except Paul. The cast then split into two and Paul strutted (pun intened) in from the left behind them and through to the front. He looked out into the audience and the turned to Christeen and then he kissed her hand. He then shook Raoul's hand before turning again to the audience and giving that nod of appreciation. At this point the entire audience got to their feet and applauded loudly for approximately ten minutes. During this you could see the pride on Pauls face. The cast then all joined hands and ran towards the front of the stage and bowed. As the curtains came in from the sides of the stage Paul continued to nod, arms outstretched.
Overall you could not fault anyone involved in this production. However, the Paul Stanley that Kiss fans know and worship is a complete opposite to the Paul Stanley Thespian we saw in Toronto. His performance was that of a true professional who I'm sure has impressed many doubters and many regular theatre goers, who are not familiar with Kiss. The vocal style that Paul uses in Phantom can only benefit future Kiss performances.
Try and see this show, no matter what it costs. Paul's performance has to be seen to be believed. Our attempts to get tickets for another night were fruitless.
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