Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Loud Organ Music

Well. four hundred and eighty eight years after it landed on Broadway, I have finally seen Phantom of the Opera.

I enjoyed the HELL out of it. I have never in my life seen anything so absolutely ridiculously over the top in my life. I think Andrew Lloyd Weber and the rest of the crew involved must have all sat down and gotten drunk/stoned and went, "Well, okay, we've got the Phantom flying down over the audience in a golden thing that looks like a lion/eagle cross, and then just for the hell of it, let's throw a big old lightning bolt across the back of the know, just in case nobody noticed that he's supposed to be evil."

I mean, people, this is not a show...this is what your basic country fair would do for its Horror House if they had money. I have never laughed so hard (internally, because my escort just LOVES this show) in my life.

And for what it is (thrill the tourists! make millions of dollars!), it is superb. Technically, it is one of the best things I've ever seen in my life...the ride across the underground lake, the little ballet girls each dressed in a copy of the Degas ballerina statue, the Mask of the Red Death bit...theatrically, it really is stunning. And of course, the falling chandelier. But the problem for me is that because I am a theatre person, I found myself having half my mind distracted.

There is so DAMN much scenery and so DAMN many costumes. And that's all fine. But as a pro at this, I found my mind wandering to: Okay, now that's an onstage costume change. Velcro? Yeah, gotta be Velcro...put the dressing gown in the front, yank from the back. Okay, got that. Phantom hides under cloak at the end, leaves glowing Phantom mask. Gotcha; false back on chair, actor leaves chair, stagehand places mask. Gotcha.

And of course, it all takes place in an opera house, which is over the top to begin with. I recommend to all Terry Pratchett's book Maskerade (not a misspelling), which is a take-off on the Phantom and hilarious and which kept going through my mind all afternoon.

But there was something quite turned out that the show we saw was the 9000th performance. And Andrew Lloyd Weber and Hal Prince arrived on stage at the curtain call to mark this occasion (along with a large cake). That was pretty cool.

However, for the full horror of the Phantom, you must read the original book, which is called The Phantom of the Opera and is by Gaston Leroux, and is MUCH scarier than any stage production could ever be.

Then I had a drink with Marty and went off the the Corner Bistro, where a lot of men my own age fell madly in love with me. Not a bad day at all.

Love, Wendy


Anonymous said...

Totally random question... are you a David Foster Wallace fan? Just curious. Seems folks either love, hate, or have never heard of him. I am an addict... and since I also love everything (especially today's entry... having seen POTO in London) and agree with your musings... wanted your take on him.
Your devoted fan,
Texas Beth

SaintTigerlily said...

I've seen Phantom of the Opera 3 times: twice as a child/teen and once as an adult. I was struck several years ago, upon my adult viewing, at how dated everything like an 80's/90's take on a french opera house it was.

Does anyone else remember a really excellent and incredibly scary TV verson of Phantom that was on, oh, probably in the early 90's. Scared the crap out of me. I remember something about a menagerie.

Carolyn said...

Remember going downtown to see Psycho -- la, la, la, opening weekend of a big movie, la, la, la, -- when we were, what? 11, 12, 13, some VERY underage number, WHERE WAS THE LEGION OF DECENCY WHEN WE NEEDED THEM? -- and hours later didn't take another shower all summer (possibly you have not YET given up the false security of the bathtub)?
For my part, I know it was several years before I went back to a movie of any kind, and then what was it?
An art house rerun of Lon Chaney's soulful Phantom, who I loved and sympathized with until he turned around at the keyboard, and HOly CrAP! he doesn't have half a face and his eyeball is sticking out, I didn't see that one coming -- how do they DO that?
Now I've seen Phantom of the Opera with all the scenery, elephants, costume changes, etc., in Legit Theatres Near You four or five times (plus the Reader's Digest version once in Las Vegas, not my fault, not my fault, tho' it cost as much as if it HAD been my fault.)
The best moment of all comes right at the beginning, after the intro, when the orchestra crashes (to use the technical term) and all the draperies are whisked away, accompanied by cymbals. I LOVE that part and I plan to take drapery-whisking classes next summer.
Ah, the dreams and aspirations the theater engenders in us!