Drawing: John Owen-Jones as The Phantom

The longest  running London Phantom is Welsh musical theatre actor and singer John Owen-Jones since Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical sensation THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA first opened at Her Majesty’s Theatre in September 1986. He played 1400 performances in his three-and-a-half years in the role, from 2001-2005 and agreed to continue for a limited period from September 2015 until the end of January 2016.
John is currently appearing in the UK Premiere of the musical THE WILD PARTY. At Lord Webber’s The Other Palace where he signed this Phantom drawing for me.

Drawing: Michael Crawford in The Phantom of the Opera

Michael Crawford Phantom

The legendary screen and stage actor Michael Crawford has returned to the West End in the musical adaption of LP Hartley’s novel THE GO-BETWEEN. He plays the elderly Leo Colson who looks back to the summer of 1900 when, as a boy he acted as a go-between in a secret love affair.

Michael has kindly signed drawings for me in the past and has also accompanied the renderings with complimentary letters. I realised I hadn’t drawn him as the Phantom, the role he originated and that catapulted him into the stratosphere when Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA premiered in London in 1986. Michael was not the original choice to play the sinister figure who haunts a Parisian theatre. When Lord Webber and his wife Sarah Brightman (the original Christine) arrived early at her vocal coach’s studio. While they were waiting, they heard Michael singing a piece from Handel’s ATALANTA in another room. He subsequently auditioned for PHANTOM and was hired on the spot.

Michael’s rich baritone voice hypnotised audiences in 1,300 performances over three years in London, Broadway and Los Angeles, winning both the Olivier and Tony Awards. It set the benchmark for all who have played the masked recluse since.

I left this drawing at the Apollo last week, which he signed it for me. THE GO-BETWEEN runs until October.

Drawing: Scott Davies and Nadim Naaman in the Phantom of the Opera

Scott Davies Nadim Naaman

Scott Davies currently plays the standby Phantom and Nadim Naaman his rival, Viscount Raoul de Chagny in Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London’s West End. They form two sides of the love triangle to win the heart of breakout new soprano Christine Daae.

Scott, who alternates the title role with Principal Phantom Ben Forster, is no stranger to the iconic part and Her Majesty’s having played the lead Phantom from December 1999 to July 2000. He returned as the standby in 2009 when David Shannon was the lead followed by John Owen-Jones. Scott also played the Phantom in the UK tour.

PHANTOM is Nadim’s favourite musical. Like Scott, he is no stranger to the production,
spending two years (2010-2012) with the show including first cover for Raoul. He made his West End debut as Rolf in THE SOUND OF MUSIC after graduating from the Royal Academy of Music in 2007, returning to PHANTOM and the role of Raoul in July 2015.
An accomplished singer-songwriter Nadim’s second album ‘Sides’ is being released this month, containing 9 originals and 9 covers with some stellar West End guests including Eva Noblezada, Celinde Schoenmaker and Jeremy Secomb.

Both Scott and Nadim signed this at Her Majesty’s stage door.

Drawing: Ben Forster in The Phantom of the Opera

Ben Forster The Phantom of the Opera

Ben Forster’s association with Andrew Lloyd Webber began when he won ITV’s SUPERSTAR in 2012 and played the title role in the UK arena tour of the rock opera JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. It continued last month when he became the Lead Phantom in the world’s highest grossing musical of all time, Lord Webber’s mesmerising THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at Her Majesty’s in London.

Unfortunately Ben damaged his ribs early in his run and was unable to perform for the past month. When he told me that he was playing ‘the masked one’ while signing my ELF sketch at The Dominion earlier in the year, I said I must draw him as the Phantom. And I did and popped past the theatre each weekend check to see if he has recovered. Luckily he returned to the lair this week where I caught up with him after Saturday’s evening performance.

Drawing: Jeremy Secomb as Phantom and Javert in the same week

Jeremy Secomb

One of my ‘brain gone, leaving no forwarding address’ moments occurred a few weeks back when I was speaking to Ben Forster as he signed my ELF sketch on the final day of it’s run at the Dominion Theatre. Given my many moons involvement in theatre, both on, off and in between stages, I said something so profoundly stupid yet, by a twist of fate I almost redeemed myself. Bear with me.

I asked Ben what he was doing next and he said PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.
‘Which part?” I asked.
“The Phantom” he replied.
“Oh the big one.”
“Yes the big one.”
This is when my wires crossed and I asked,
“Is Jermey Secomb still playing Javert?”
“That’s LES MISERABLES,” he said in his usual very nice manner.
Half mask, brain at half-mast, half wit… find a hole to disappear down.

Anyway this week the moons all lined and some theatrical lunacy occurred that in a perverse way vindicated my stupidly, in my own mind at least. Ben, as the lead Phantom was injured, Scott Davis the standby and Kieran Brown understudy were unavailable, so all of a sudden PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, one of the West End’s major musicals was just…’of the Opera.’

Step in Jeremy, aka Javert, the emergency Phantom, who was familiar with the role, having played it many times around the globe and previously at Her Majesty’s. He literally leaped form the barricades at the Queen’s Theatre down the Haymarket to the secret lair, at the last minute to save the day. Slightly dramatic, but you get the picture.

I just had to do this sketch of Jeremy, who I had previously drawn as SWEENEY TODD and get it signed to commemorate the occasion. On Saturday I headed out on my vindication venture, but which role was he doing and at which royally-named theatre? I found out he was back on the barricades at Queen’s  and showed him this is a little tribute to his brilliance professionalism and Antipodean versatility He remembered my Sweeney sketch and was pleased to be able to graph it for me. My rendered redemption was complete… sort of. Jeremy Secomb was Javert, who played the Phantom. You get the picture.

Drawing: Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess in Love Never Dies at the Adelphi Theatre

Lover Never Dies

Love Never Dies – the sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s long running musical The Phantom of the Opera opened at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End on 9 March 2010. Ramin Karimloo played the title role with Sierra Boggess as Christine. They coined the term ‘Rierra’. Ramin was the Phantom in the original West End production and the show’s 21st anniversary Phantom in 2007.

Sierra was cast in the Las Vegas production of Phantom in the role of Christien Daaé at the Venetian Resort in 2006. Both Ramin and Sierra were nominated for Olivier Awards, and the production received seven nominations. They signed by sketch after the world premiere at the Adelphi Theatre stage door in pouring rain on 9 March 2010.