Theatre Thursday :: our thoughts on The Phantom of the Opera

21 May

Or, how we proceeded to both ruin and improve The Phantom of the Opera with AU shenanigans.

Now, I’ve seen Phantom before, the film beyond counting and the stage production twice (once tour, once New York).  It was technically very interesting watching the ways the stage had been changed in this production (a rotating multilevel set with additional openings and added pieces, for example) and it was interesting watching the changes to the blocking (unfortunately, no compulsively twirling in circles by the ballerinas every time they sang “he’s here, the Phantom of the Opera!” but other positive choices implying more agency for characters) but that was not the fun part, necessarily.

The only exposure I’d had to the show prior to this was the 2004 movie (pitchforks down!), though I went through a short period in high school where I listened to that soundtrack at least once a day (down!). So it’s been one of those shows that I kind of felt like I should see live, for nostalgia if nothing else. I have laughably minimal experience with Broadway, so I can’t really speak to the staging too much, except that I thought the multilevel sets that rotated on and off stage were really cool. Also that probably the singing was technically a lot better than the actors’ singing in the movie (but I still have a soft spot for that soundtrack).

No, the thing that made this production very enjoyable was this, a nonsense idea that I had a few months ago about well, if Grant Ward was the monster in the basement, would that mean he was the Phantom of the Opera?  And it sort of took on a life of its own.

To wit:

  • Creepy older man “trains” young girl and is obsessed with her and getting her to love him.
  • Young girl, for her part, is an orphan.
  • Young girl, despite the above, has several people looking out for her, including a bland-ass boy who is in love with her or something, a gal pal, and an older woman who feels responsible for her in some way.
  • Said gal pal seems to spend an inordinate amount of her time wringing her hands, offering comfort, and being generally concerned for the young girl’s well-being.  (I am a nerd, and Meg Giry has always been my favorite character, so I was not disappointed to note that the Meg in this particular cast was on all of the time, doing stage business and being very committed to the moment despite having not that many lines or anything.)
  • The man kidnaps the girl multiple times, in the interests of convincing her to join him in his creepy basement/Nazi organization.
  • The man sees fit to blame not his own actions, but the actions of others, for the ills that have befallen him previously.
  • At one point, the girl sings the phrase “I remember there was mist…” (We almost lost it.)
  • There is a slightly older woman who believes the young girl is receiving the fame/glory/whatever that she herself deserves instead.
  • There is a gentleman who seems to exist mostly for the purpose of providing off-color exposition that borders on snark, but is entirely expendable.
  • After a public example of the horrors going on behind the scenes, one of the men in charge tries to play it off like nothing is wrong and distract onlookers with something more pleasant (“THE BALLET!”).
  • This connection requires some knowledge of Marvel Comics canon. Skye AKA Daisy Johnson/Quake in 616 canon is a mutant who eventually has a relationship with a character codenamed Hellfire (who can…control hellfire because comics are stupid). Certain sects of Grant Ward fandom are clinging to the notion that Ward will turn out to be Hellfire. I mentioned this prior to the show, joking around, and then it turned out that in this production there was something of a fire motif. In multiple scenes a sudden flame erupted onstage, and during the fight between Raoul and the Phantom, the Phantom throws firebombs at Raoul. Every single time I leaned over and whispered “Hellfire” and it never ceased to be hilarious.
  • Anyhow, said fellow commits many murders, at least some of which he commits for what he sees as the young girl’s benefit (but some of them, he’s kind of just committing because he’s an ass).
  • Sidenote: it’s impossible for me to watch the Phantom talking about Don Juan Triumphant and not have my brain translate that into “Christine I wrote you an AU fanfic please be in it.”
  • The people in charge decide for some reason that the best way to lure and ensnare this man is to put the young girl (the one he has been creeping on) directly in his path.
  • The young girl is ultimately strong enough to refuse the man’s demands and escape.

And so on.  It’s a bit of a hilarious mess, is what.

–your fangirl heroines.

you make me happy

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