Ben Forster's "Phantom": A New Look At An Infamous Character

Ben Forster's "Phantom": A New Look At An Infamous Character

A review of the West End's newest Phantom
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After spending months surrounded by the churches and biblical art of Rome, I was starting to feel more and more curious about what exactly was in the New Testament. Being the musical theater fan that I am, I turned to "Jesus Christ Superstar" (JCS), an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical I had managed to go without seeing, up until then. I watched a modernized version that had been filmed while on tour a few years earlier, and found myself completely entranced by it. The lighting, costumes and staging were endlessly creative and new, but what really caught my attention was the performance by the leading actors. Ben Forster, who won the role of Jesus after performing on the show, "Superstar," was captivating. Not just in his singing, but in the way he put so much emotion and intensity into the role. His interpretation just radiated sadness and anger.

This was only a week before my trip to London, during which I would be seeing "Phantom of the Opera," a show I had been dying to see for the past 12 years. Imagine my surprise when I looked up the current cast and found that I would be seeing Ben Forster as the Phantom, just days after I'd discovered him. Reviews of his performance weren't entirely positive, complaining that his voice didn't have the strength to play the Phantom. I would agree that his voice isn't as heavy as the Phantom's normally is, but once I heard his opening soft and quiet "Brava" echo through the theater before he calls Christine's name, I could tell that that voice was going to become an advantage. Rather than that robust quality the Phantom's voice normally has, Forster's Phantom was unbelievably quiet and soft from the beginning, with this almost sickeningly sweet tinge to it on certain notes. In his more intense moments, all of this sweetness spiked not into a roar, like other Phantom's tend to favor, as much as a wavering and broken anger. This became especially unsettling when combined with Forster's character interpretation. Everything from his facial expressions to the slow, fluid way he moved across the stage in Act I, especially around Christine, seemed like a predator examining his prey.

One moment that stands out in particular is the way Forster's head tilts and his slow stalking in "Music of the Night" became noticeably snake-like, despite the sweetness of the song. His movements were some of my favorite elements of his interpretation. He emphasized the way the Phantom seems to force and pull the final notes of the title song from her throat, clenching his fist and pulling toward his chest as Christine reached higher and her chest heaved forward. Rather than just moving his hands as Christine sings her part in "Point of No Return," he actually starts to conduct in his lap, bringing everything back to the fact that he is Christine's teacher and that this is his opera.

These acting choices are especially important because since his voice is missing that robust quality and it is combined with the fact that he is about the same height as Celinde Shoenmaker's Christine, his character can be a bit hard to seem fearsome. This became most apparent in the "Point of No Return" reprise, when the Phantom needs to have a strong and menacing presence to combat Christine's howling anger, something Forster doesn't exactly have and his slow and unnerving treatment of the Phantom up until that point can't really save. He makes up for it in the emotion he brings to the whole Final Lair scene, though, and throughout the musical. Every feeling is heightened and intensified. His softness with Christine in the beginning is in every movement, from the way he guides her into the Lair during the title song to the way he removes her hand from his mask in "Music of the Night." He is slow and quiet and hypnotic, so much so that the audience is on edge throughout "Music of the Night," the song that normally makes them fall for the Phantom in the same moment Christine does. His high and soft voice lends itself to the sadness of the role, especially throughout the "All I Ask of You" and "Masquerade" reprises, and remains behind every moment of loud and sudden anger.

What some may think Ben Forster lacks actually allows him to explore different elements of the character, allowing him to bring something very different to "Phantom of the Opera." If you're looking for a show to see on the West End while he's still in the role, don't let poor reviews or even disliking him in "JCS" discourage you. You'll be seeing a version of "Phantom" you can't find elsewhere.

Cover Image Credit: Olivier Awards

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37 Drake Lyrics From 'Scorpion' That Will Make Your Next Instagram Caption Go Double Platinum

Side A makes you want to be single, Side B make you want to be boo'd up.

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We all knew Scorpion was going to be the summer banger we wanted. However, Drake surprised us with two sides of an album and two sides of himself. Mixing rap and R&B; was genius on his part, so why not dedicate 37 of his lyrics to our Instagram captions?

1. "Don't tell me how knew it would be like this all along" — Emotionless

Definitely a "I'm too good" for you vibe.

2. "My mentions are jokes, but they never give me the facts" — Talk Up

This one's for my haters.

3. "I wanna thank God for workin' way harder than Satan" — Elevate

For when you're feeling blessed.

4. "I promise if I'm not dead then I'm dedicated" — March 14

In Drake's story about his son the world knows about now, we get a lyric of true love and dedication

5. "My Mount Rushmore is me with four different expressions" — Survival

6. "Pinky ring 'til I get a wedding ring" — Nonstop

7. "I gotta breathe in real deep when I catch an attitude" — 8 Out of 10

This first line of the song is about to be spread on the gram like a wildfire

8. "Heard all of the talkin', now it's quiet, now it's shush" — Mob Ties

9. "California girls sweeter than pieces of candy" — Sandra's Rose

This is gonna have every girl who has ever stayed in Cali all hot and heavy, watch it.

10. "I think you're changing your mind, starting to see it in your eyes" — Summer Games

Y'all know how these summer games go

11. "Look the new me is really still the real me" — In My Feelings

When you've got to profess that you've changed 200%

12. "Only beggin' that I do is me beggin' your pardon" — Is There More

13. "Shifted your focus, lens lookin' jaded" — Jaded

14. "Back and forth to Italy, my comment section killin' me" — Can't Take a Joke

Necessary for when you've got people hyping you up already

15. "People are only as tough as they phone allows them to be" — Peak

Y'all can't have this one, I'm stealing it

16. "Work all winter, shine all summer" — That's How You Feel

Put in the work so you can flex on 'em, summer 18

17. "Blue faces, I got blue diamonds, blue tint, yeah" — Blue Tint


18. "I stay busy workin' on me" — Elevate

19. "Ten of us, we movin' as one" — Talk Up

The perfect reason to get the largest group picture you've had on your gram

20. "October baby for irony sake, of course" — March 14

This statistically applies to 1/12 of y'all reading this, so take that as you will (we October babies are the best)

21. "She had an attitude in the summer but now she nice again" — Blue Tint

22. "I know you special girl 'cause I know too many" — In My Feelings


23. "Gotta hit the club like you hit them, hit them, hit them angles" — Nice for What

24. "She said 'Do you love me?' I tell her, 'Only partly,' I only love my ____ and my ____ I'm sorry" — God's Plan

If you haven't used this one yet, get to it

25. "But I'm blessed I just checked, hate me never met me in the flesh" — I'm Upset

26. "It's only good in my city because I said so" — 8 Out of 10

Follow this up with a location and shoutout your hometown

27. "My haters either on they way to work or they arrived" — Can't Take a Joke

28. "I always need a glass of wine by sundown" — Final Fantasy

Has Drake ever been more relatable?

29. "It's your f***in' birthday. Happy birthday" — Ratchet Happy Birthday

Let's go get kicked out of an Applebee's

30. "I move through London with the Eurostep" — Nonstop


31. "I stopped askin' myself and I started feelin' myself" — Survival

Mood all summer 18

32. "They keep tryna' get me for my soul" — I'm Upset

33. "I'm tryna see who's there on the other end of the shade" — Emotionless

34. "Only obligation is to tell it straight" — Elevate

35. "It don't matter to me what you say" — Don't Matter to Me


This line from the King of Pop (MJ) will give you chills. R.I.P.

36. "I'm the chosen one, flowers never pick themselves" — Sandra's Rose

37. "Say you'll never ever leave from beside me" — In My Feelings

Couple goals, amirite?

Cover Image Credit:

@champagnepapi / Instagram

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Yam Haus Plays A Sold-Out 7th Street Entry

When you attend a Yam Haus show you don't just get a night full of crazy dancing and incredible music, but you are given a whole new family.

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As I looked around the sold-out 7th Street Entry before the show, I already knew that it was going to be a great night. The room was packed full of smiles, hugs, and laughter from the start as fans continued to pile in. Noticing these things, along with the wonderful comments from those in attendance, made it clear right away that Yam Haus isn't just a band. They are four cool dudes who do what they love and create a positive and welcoming environment while doing so, bringing people from all over together.

The night started off with the 3-piece indie rock band, Author from Minneapolis, MN. From the moment they took the stage the crowd was drawn into their unique sound. They did a wonderful job at keeping the crowd entertained and pumping them up for the headliner to follow.

After Author finished their set, Yam Haus took the stage with an immense amount of energy while "Who Let The Dogs Out" by Baha Men played over the speakers. It was definitely one of the best stage entrances I've seen in a while! The band then dove into their title track, "Stargazer" which got the crowd up on their feet dancing and singing along which continued throughout the entire show.

"You Need Love" and "Bad News" were played just a few songs later. Both tracks have catchy lyrics and created such a nice vibe in the room when played live. After "Bad News," lead singer and guitarist, Lawrence (Lars) Pruitt introduced the rest of the band which includes Seth Blum on electric guitar, Jake Felstow on drums, and Zach Beinlich on bass.

A special moment of the night was when "Get Somewhere" was played. As soon as the song began, the crowd went wild and hands shot up into the air and swayed throughout the entire song.

Pruitt introduced "Too Many People" next by saying, "Welcome to the family. We love you all so much. This next song is about loving somebody besides yourself" which it reflects perfectly. The lyrics are strong and catchy, but most importantly are positive and empowering. As the song played, smiles formed around the room and many in the crowd danced along with each other and exchanged a few more hugs. Seriously though, how can you not love a song that preaches about loving one another?

"Groovin' (That Feel Good Song)" was the final song the band had on their setlist for the evening. It was definitely the ideal song to close with as it got the crowd dancing like crazy. The band even had a little-choreographed dance that they showed off in the middle of the tune! As the song began to come to a close, confetti blasted into the air and the band jumped down into the crowd. They then danced with their fans for one last special moment before heading off stage.

However, the crowd wanted more as they screamed for an encore. "One more song! One more song!" screamed those in attendance at the sold-out 7th Street Entry.

"We really don't do forced encores, but do you really want an encore?!" said, Pruitt as the band ran back on stage.

Yam Haus then played a cover of Justin Timberlake's, "CAN'T STOP THE FEELING" from the animated movie, "Trolls." It was such a fun tune to jam along to and was a fun way to close up an amazing night in Minneapolis.

When you attend a Yam Haus show you don't just get a night full of crazy dancing and incredible music, but you are given a whole new family. However, it's not just any family. It's such a supportive and positive one that you will find yourself wishing you could see everyone (the band, their team, the other fans, etc.) all over again and again. The "Yam Fam" is truly something special.

(I'm not sure if the term, "Yam Fam" is a thing yet, but it definitely should be because it is so much fun to say!)

As I walked out after the show, I glanced up at the stars painted on the walls of the First Avenue & 7th Street building. The stars represent/honor favorite music artists from the past and present. However, there are a few blank stars on the building waiting to find somebody worthy of having their name added to it and I wouldn't be surprised if someday "Yam Haus" is painted onto one of them. Just think, how cool would that be? Pretty dang cool, I know!

So, if you have yet to see Yam Haus play live, or even hear one of their songs, please do so as you won't regret it. In fact, I'd go as far to say that I guarantee you won't. Yam Haus is something special and it's crazy to think that this is just the start for this 4-piece midwest band.

Check out Yam Haus' tour schedule here and listen to their debut album, "Stargazer" on Spotify or Apple Music.

Also, the band has been creating daily vlogs on their YouTube Channel for over a year and they are super entertaining and funny! I went to watch only one and ended up watching about 30 in a row (and definitely laughed at them more than I should). They give you an "inside" look into the life of Yam Haus and you should go check them out.

-Yam Haus Socials-

Twitter: @YAMHAUSBand

Instagram: @YamHaus

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yamhaus/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/yamhaus/

Website: https://www.yamhaus.com/

Corbyn Jenkins // IG: @CorbynJenkins

Cover Image Credit:

Corbyn Jenkins // IG: @CorbynJenkins

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