The Secret Superstar Behind The Phantom of the Opera
"It’s one of the greatest makeup jobs in Broadway history. Come behind the scenes to see how a legendary artist makes magic before the curtain goes up."
A wonderful article on Broadway’s makeup artist Thelma Pollard (featuring Laird Mackintosh as the Phantom).
Jim Weitzer plays a very sassy Raoul!
Reasons Jim is one of my all-time favorites.
They’re dragons, Khaleesi. They can never be tamed. Not even by their mother.
The Phantom in his Mandarin coat, at the organ:
1. David Gaschen, Basel.
2. Thomas Schulze, Hamburg.
3. I wanna say Luis Armando, Madrid.
4. Michael Crawford, West End.
5. Maria Bjørnson’s sketch for this scene.
6. Peter Jorde and Hanne Damm, Copenhagen.
7. Peter Jorde and Hanne Damm, Copenhagen.
8. John Owen-Jones, West End.
9. Jonathan Roxmouth, Johannesburg.
The original design sketch is in the care of V&A in London.
Jason Forbach’s first Broadway curtain call as Enjolras, 4/11/14.
Phantom chandeliers, ALW version (and of course the original!)
1. The Palais Garnier chandelier, which actually never fell. One of the counterweights holding it in place, however - that fell, making the chandelier shake, and also ruining quite a bit of the exterior on its way. This happened in 1896, and a worker was killed. This is what inspired Leroux. This photo doesn’t really do the chandelier justice, as the top is partly clipped off. On the other hand, you can see the view Maria Bjørnson based the stage chandelier on in 1986, on the thee lower tiers.
2. The original West End chandelier. It was made oval to ease the weight and to (I think) be easier to control when falling. From many seats it still looks round. The bulbs are simplified compared to the Garnier one, but the lyres and bead drapes are very recognizable. As mentioned it’s based on the three lower tiers of the Garnier one, excluding the top tier, but otherwise keeping the famous features. This has been the basis for all replica productions, except the Vegas one.
3. The Viennese production of Phantom is the only one as of yet to use Maria Bjørnson’s design, but on a round chandelier. Granted, Bjørnson’s original chandelier design WAS round, but in the technical drafts it became oval. However, the Viennese audience got to enjoy the circular version. I’m still curious on where this chandelier is today! it has not appeared in any other productions.
4. The Hungarian production was the first non-replica stage version of ALW’s musical. They worked around the whole chandelier drop in a rather clever way - they had it fall from the stage ceiling, towards the back of the stage, where the backdrop illuded the auditorium of the Palais Garnier. Their chandelier was a rather faithful copy of the Garnier one, except a lot smaller and more crashable.
5. The Polish production was the second non-replica stage version of ALW’s musical. They also made a faithful copy of the Garnier chandelier. Though I think they made it too narrow and round, I still dig the look of it. In the auditorium it looked a lot like the real deal.
6. The Vegas chandelier was the first and so far only replica production to use a different chandelier. It consisted of four “plates” not connected to eachother, which enabled them to have an Overture with the chandelier pieces moving around the auditorium, until it came together and formed a chandelier. The pieces were still loose at this point, but held in place with the multiple wires connected in various spots in the ceiling. It also enabled them to shake the chandelier well, and to have a super fast drop. It’s not really fair to have a side view of this chandelier, cause it was usually seen in action and/or from underneath, where it had elaborate lyre decorations. Whereas the original Phantom chandelier was based on the three lower tiers of the Garnier one, the Vegas one appeared to be based on the three TOP tiers. Hence it was more pointed and with less base than the replica one.
7. The movie chandelier was the first to start moving away from the Garnier one, but still keeping the main look. It had four tiers, but the overall shape was more Regency in style, with a tear shape and with less viewable metal bases and more vertical crystal strings. The crown was also higher, adding to the tear shape. Still, it had the iconic lyres and the bulbs, just less prominent.
8. The Royal Albert Hall chandelier was similar to the movie one. For a while I thought it was the same, until I saw them side by side. The RAH one further emphasized the tear shape, and though the bulbs were kept they removed the iconic lyres. The main decorations were the thee tiers with bulbs, and strings of crystals. The foot had “Maria” engraved, to honour original Phantom designer Maria Bjørnson.
9. The UK tour further simplified the look. It has the same tear shape and the emphasis on strings of beads as the movie and RAH one, but it has placed two of the tiers a lot closer. These tiers has scrolls with bulbs, but fewer per row than the others. There’s also no crown on top, and no lyres. This one has, in my opinion, moved far away from the Garnier original. Which is strange, seeing how they’ve copied Garnier quite faithful in some of the set designs.
If you were to apply a sort of typology on the Phantom chandeliers, you have at one hand those sticking close to the Garnier original, and others being more tear shaped and moving away from the Garnier look. The 2004 movie chandelier is what kinda connects them, as that one was a hybrid version. But the ones to follow it has been simplified so they’re almost unrecognizable, creating a look of their own.
And that was today’s chandelier appreciation post.