Paint fiasco derails Phantom show

2011-11-24 09:36
Mariana Malan
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.

'A first'

"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.


  • John - 2011-11-24 10:31

    Sometimes when something goes wrong and they make a plan, it can be even more enjoyable than if it was perfect. The important thing is they did not let their audience down. Politicians couldlearn something from this.

      johnopolo - 2011-11-24 12:11

      No John, SA's politicians couldn't learn anything from that.

  • Petri - 2011-11-24 10:45

    It certainly was not more enjoyable! People next to us flew from PE for this, rented accommodation and a car. They were not amused to say the least!

  • sadiemy - 2011-11-24 21:00

    Would have been more informative if we had been told the difference between concert performance and the one they were supposed to do. We are not all experts in the arts.

  • gary.desousa.5 - 2012-11-28 13:58

    Those terrible Aussies, just because we beat them in rugby and will beat them in cricket.

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