RAOUL in "FINAL LAIR"




"Why make her lie to you to save me....."



This is the last outfit Raoul wears - a broken down version of his ruffled tailcoat shirt and black pants. The Raoul actor is soaked with lukewarm water under stage before this scene, making his shirt appear like he's actually been swimming across the lake to the Phantom's lair. His suspenders are also viewable, and every production feature a new version: black, red, white, wine coloured, paisley patterned, brown, silver...

Markus Tylor, a talented photographer and also Steve Barton's dresser back in 1986, told a funny anecdote about this costume in his picture catalogue "The Phantom of the Opera, The first year backstage". Here it is, for your enjoyment. I highly recommend he catalogue, it is stuffed with rare and funny pictures from the original West End production.

The ritual of sponging Raoul was all because of "that shirt", as it had become known in the Wardrobe department... Steve was a perfectionist, and thus, like most never happy about a particular item of costume (...) His argument was on the following lines: "How come I jump off a bridge and into a lake, then only to reappear a few minutes later bone dry?!". We kind of lost count of how many "shirts" of varying design and differing materials were made, tested and rejected during the first few weeks of the shows opening. Cotton did not look wet, so polyester was tried, that did not look wet enough. Next along was satin: deemed to fluffy, silk gave little added benefit. Having run out of materials, it was time to supplement the "shirt" with one with slits and cuts in it to give the audience an impression that the man had indeed gone for a swim. But, Steve felt it just looked like an old rag. Poor Rose the Wardrobe Mistress was at her wits end, and had a mountain of other costumes to attend to. Having reached a stalemate, and I being in charge of his costumes suggested "pouring a bucket of water over the bum". To my shame this was met with utter silence, until Rose exclaimed "FINE!!". (...) So it was back to the original shirt, cotton being best suited for this type of "lake special effect"., along with slits and cuts incorporated into this shirt to complete the impression. And it worked, the man also benefiting from a nice cooling down, which is something I believe is still done to this day*."

(*Everywhere except Vegas, which I think use a special fabric appearing wet from a distance.)