Experienced Phantom talks about his stage career

Ealing Times: Earl Carpenter Earl Carpenter

EARL Carpenter has just finished playing the Phantom in the 25th anniversary national tour of The Phantom of the Opera, and he is bringing his love for the musical to the Wycombe Swan.

But the West End star said he does not get attached to shows as he is always looking to the next job.  And although he is constantly on tour he said it is not "rocket science" to make sure you look after yourself on tour.

Earl has 20 years experience in the musical theatre industry.

He has played principal and title roles in a number of productions such as We Will Rock You, Evita, the 25th Anniversary production of Les Misérables, Zorro, The Phantom of the Opera and Witches of Eastwick to name but a few.

When I spoke to him he was just coming to the end of playing the Phantom in Sir Cameron Mackintosh’s new 25th Anniversary national tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.

When I asked if he was sad to be finishing he said: "It is a job. These days I don't get attached to things like I used to. There are so many other things going on outside of work.

"You are constantly distracted and constantly trying to look at the bigger picture.

"You have to kind of look at it as a job. You have to have a degree of separation. It can be too consuming otherwise."

He was then taking The Three Phantoms tour to Scandinavia, before it is coming back to the UK for a national tour, including the Wycombe Swan on June 10 and 11.

Three Phantoms has already performed to well over 20,000 people since 2011.

Earl, Matthew Cammelle and Stephen John Davis will perform and host an evening that celebrates the story of The Phantom of the Opera.

The evening also features songs from other musicals including Les Misérables, West Side Story, Spamalot, Kiss Me Kate, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Rock Of Ages and Wicked.

Earl said it has a lot of great songs and what makes it even better is he is doing it with mates, Matthew and Stephen.

He produced the show in 2011. For this tour another producer has taken the helm although Earl still has the creative and directorial hold on it.

He said: "Audiences want a great night out and want a feel good factor- that is how I have designed it knowing what fun it is going to be for the audience."

It is a show within a show. In the last 30 minutes of the show they focus on the Phantom of the Opera.

There are about 40 different variations or adaptations of the show- they cover a couple and then come back to Andrew Lloyd Webber's version.

He added: "It is a show at the end of the day. It is not just us standing there singing a song."

Matthew played Raoul in Cameron Mackintosh’s production of The Phantom of the Opera in 2000, and in 2002 he appeared in Follies at the Royal Festival Hall. He returned to playing the Phantom in 2005.

Stephen was honoured to be asked to perform as Phantom in the 10,000th West End performance of The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. He has performed a number of roles in the iconic show including Joseph Buquet, Monsieur Firmin, Monsieur Le Fevre, Don Attilio and the Auctioneer. In 2011, Stephen was invited to perform the role of Don Attilio in the 25th Anniversary performance of The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall, screened live in cinemas worldwide, where Earl played the Auctioneer.

So what is it that audiences love about the Phantom?

Earl said: "It was created in a time when musicals were very new and very exciting, from the point of view of establishing new things. Obviously we have just been through a point where it has been able to regenerate itself in a way, having the anniversary."

He said it is also a great love story. Do the three singers give advice to each other, I asked.

Earl said: "I don't think we would ever encroach on our experience."

No Phantom would be complete without his Christine and Three Phantoms is no exception, as they are joined by international musical and opera star Rebecca Caine. Amongst her many accolades she originated the role of Cosette in the Cameron Mackintosh and RSC production of Les Misérables and then joined the original cast of The Phantom of the Opera to play Christine and in the Canadian premiere of The Phantom of the Opera alongside Colm Wilkinson.

The cast also includes Annette Yeo, Mandy Watsham Dunstall and Alistair Barron.

Earl said he tries to keep the show fresh.

He said: "Not being too prepared. It does kind of keep you on the edge a little bit. I struggle with doing something night after night after night. There does come a point where you break a little. The wheels do fall off somewhat.

"You just kind of have to make sure you listen and react, instead of falling into auto pilot."

As he has starred in Les Miserables on stage I asked him if he has seen this year's blockbuster of the show.

He said: "I have not been too bothered. The idea of watching a film with lots of mates in might ruin the film.

"It always has been there- West End Story, My Fair Lady, The King and I. They all managed to make it to a film. It is not new. "Actually historically musicals were made for film."

But he said he did think it was good to reach out to a new audience. I then asked if he minds being on tour.

He said: "There is a commitment to not going out all the time and things like that. "There is a little change in the way you live your life.

"You have to otherwise you won't be able to do it. You have to make certain sacrifices."

But how does he manage to look after himself while on the road? He said: "It is not rocket science. It is not difficult. It is not a rock and roll lifestyle. You just get on with it."

The Three Phantoms will be at the Wycombe Swan in St Mary Street, High Wycombe on June 10 and 11 at 7.30pm. Tickets range from £20 to £29.50 from 01494 512000 or go to www.wycombeswan.co.uk

For more leisure stories including food reviews, gigs listings and further interviews click here.

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