Paint fiasco derails Phantom show
Cape Town - For the first time in 25 years of the musical's existence, a concert version of Phantom of the Opera was staged at the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town on Tuesday.
There was no other way because of an unexpected chemical reaction in the paint which the stage was painted with on Sunday night. The paint, from Australia, still hadn't dried by 17:00 on the evening of the first preview, which had to start at 20:00.
"We had to make an urgent decision," impresario Pieter Toerien said. "In the concert version the actors sit and sing in full costume and make-up.
"There are absolute explicit instructions about the staging of Phantom. What we did, was actually thus highly illegal.
"Fortunately there is a representative of Andrew Lloyd Webber's company in Cape Town. He gave us permission to do the concert version. The audience that saw it experienced an historical moment in musical theatre. "
In addition, the show started 15 minutes late.
Toerien said it is tradition to paint the stage the Sunday before the first performance. There have never been any problems before.
"The wet paint is dangerous for the dancers and actors and the costumes would've been irreparably damaged if we had to stage the show the traditional way."
After the quick decision to continue with the show in concert format, everyone had to pitch in to inform the characters how everything should progress on stage.
"They were absolutely wonderful," says Toerien. "Within half an hour they worked with the design team and then the show started. It was a dramatic and gruelling, but ultimately a wonderful experience."
Toerien gave the audience of 1 500 the option to exchange their tickets for another show. They chose to stay and gave the singers a standing ovation.
"I just realised that one can still experience a first after 500 performances," he said.
A team worked through the night to clean the stage for the next show.