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Q But not her influence.
A Not at all. One day I saw a production of [the Michael Legrand musical] “Marguerite” in London. It was designed by someone named Paul Brown. He’s operatic with a wonderful sense of drama. He’s also Maria’s protégé. I thought he would be someone who could help us rediscover “Phantom.” He and I started working on this concept of enormous, massive walls that thunder around the stage and become many things. They represent the building. The whole show revolves around these walls. The scenes in the opera house are not dissimilar from the ones in the original. We’ve kept the costumes that Maria adapted. Having been a stage manager when I started off in the business, I’m intrigued by how a set can excite the audience. The staging of a new version is governed by the physical reality of what the set will be.
Q But what do you say to diehard fans who have images of Michael Crawford, the most famous Phantom, singed in their minds and want to see a version of that iconic production?
A The original creative team made a wonderful show, which attracts a new audience. Many of the people who come to see the show usually say they’ve never seen it before. So, it’s not that the new version is better than the old one. It’s just that it’s different. What was extraordinary and original 25 years ago can no longer be. You want people to come see the show because it’s still one of the greatest ever. I want to give audiences a new experience, not a piece of nostalgia. I want people who see the show to understand what the fuss was all about in the first place.
Rohan Preston • 612-673-4390