Yesterday marked a year since I first saw Sunny Afternoon. (Yes, I saw it on Hallowe’en, what of it?) To think, my initial plan for that day was to take my parents to see Phantom of the Opera, with it being a bit more in keeping with the theme of the day… I would’ve gone to Sunny at some point still, but you get the feeling that events wouldn’t have played out in the same way.
It has, unequivocally, been the best year of my life. I mean, I found the show when I was still settling into London – it really proved to be a stabilising influence. The show, the cast & the music (hearing Too Much On My Mind for the first time was a defining point). There have been such incredible highs: my 50th & 100th shows, the Oliviers, West End LIVE, OnBlackheath, and many others. As with anything, it’s not been a year of plain sailing – I had to defer my MSc research project as I had (as ever) taken too much on at once, and was living somewhere that (for the most part) I hated, ultimately showing in my final, stressful dealings with my former landlord.
And, of course, cast change. Dealing with the fact that I won’t be able to see these amazing people that I spent half my year with has been difficult, though I think I’m through the toughest stage now. As of last night I’ve seen the new cast 5 times; each time they’ve got better & consequently I’ve enjoyed myself more on each visit. Time was the key, and being allowed to take things at my own pace. Getting out & experiencing a range of different theatre since (including seeing Sunny alumni Carly & John) has also helped, and is something I’m very glad to have done.
In planning my day, I had been tempted to see Spectre at a 7.30am screening at the BFI IMAX (the only available slot) – I wanted to see it anyway (love a bit of Bond), plus Sunny alumnus Tam very briefly features as Moneypenny’s boyfriend. However I got too impatient to see it & caught it earlier in the week instead!
I ended up going to see Suffragette again instead (no Sunny link, just an amazing piece of cinema) in the morning.
My theatre for the day then comprised of a Phantom matinée (as I wanted to see it last Hallowe’en) & a Sunny evening show.
If you’re in the mood for a spectacular musical, basically look no further than Phantom – a beautiful score, wonderful costumes & serious production values. The chandelier moments remain thrilling, even after multiple viewings. Being up in the grand circle allows a near-perfect view of the action as a whole. Or, at least, it should. I can cope with a slight restriction due to the railing curving around & obscuring a bit of the front of the stage – it’s just when other patrons decide to lean forward, thinking they’ll be able to see any better… Honestly, you nearly never can, and it has to be one of the most frustratingly annoying things that happens in a theatre. Just don’t do it.
Other than those kinds of annoyances, it really was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. I’ve seen the show a handful of times and it’s been a different cast on most of these occasions – with a franchise show like this there’s less of an opportunity for actors to change things up, so as long as they are good at their job… And they most definitely are! The current Phantom (John Owen-Jones) is probably my favourite that I’ve seen; a powerful, rich voice and a real stage presence. I fully intend to go back – though hopefully I can get a few rows further forward to counteract the annoyance that is other people!
So, onto the main event… It was actually my first Saturday night at the show since Doomsday, and the first time I’d been at the show two days in a row during the new cast’s time there. Friday night had been a really fun show, so I had high hopes this would roll through to the final show of the week!
It may be just 4 weeks into the new cast’s run, but already there’s been a bit of Team B action – and there was some more understudy roulette to end the week with:
And, of course, I wasn’t disappointed! Their development over the 3 weeks that I’ve been going to the show is truly remarkable (even looking back to media night); lots of little ad libs & new mannerisms being thrown in already. The confidence of this group of people is wonderful to see!
I had a couple of big highlights. One came in the first act: Dedicated Follower of Fashion. This was my answer to the ‘favourite song’ question during the original cast’s reign, and it’s looking like it may just stay that way for the new cast! The new choreography is brilliantly funny – as much as I miss the lovely quirky moves from the originals, I’m much happier that it’s had a complete refresh for the newbies to put their own stamp on it. Oliver, Damien & Tom’s sections at the front in particular are awesome! My other highlight came in the second half: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy. I have to say, I’m loving watching Tom develop the role of Pete – and you can tell that he’s on the right track, as he made me cry in the speech leading up to this song. Add this to his brilliant bass-playing (I genuinely did get very distracted by it during Lola) and we are onto a winner!
I did also love Gabriel & Niamh adding in some of the Thriller dance moves right at the end of the finale as a special Hallowe’en touch…
I am slowly meeting more of the new cast, so can confirm that they are as lovely as their predecessors! It rounded my night off wonderfully being wished a happy anniversary.
A cast night out had been organised, so it was an extra treat to wait at stage door & see what emerged each time! To be honest, I was just glad when I was able to recognise some of the people that came out… (New faces an’ all that.) Ryan had been in charge of organising the night, so he decided he really had to make an effort to dress up – I just couldn’t waste the opportunity for a quick photo:
And here’s to the next year…