DUNNNN!!! DUNNN!! DUNN! DUNN Dunn dunnnnn
That was my impression of the famous organ melody at the beginning of the title song of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. It was flawless, I know. Please hold your applause until the end of this post. Also no flash photography or filming of any kind.
In case you couldn’t tell, I saw Phantom again last week. “Oh you saw it again?” you ask curiously. “So what was it? Your second time? Third?”
Clearly you don’t know me at all. Last week was my fifth time marveling at the glorious beauty that is Phantom of the Opera. For anyone who thought my love for theatre was just a hobby, I hope you now realize that it’s a full-blown disease.
As you can obviously determine from my obsession with this show, it holds a very prestigious position in my top 3 favorite musicals of all time. I can explain why in 3 simple points:
Everyone likes a good love story. Everyone loves a bad love story. Forbidden love is interesting, sexy, and completely consuming.
In this musical, young opera ballerina Christine Daaé receives singing lessons from a mysterious “Angel of Music,” otherwise known as the Phantom of the Opera. The Phantom sabotages the opera so that his prodigy will be able to sing the lead role and show off her gorgeous voice. Oh yeah, he’s totally in love with her too.
There’s just one little problem with their relationship: he has a hideously deformed face, is kind of crazy, and Christine is in love with someone else. #ToughLuck
As crazy and impossible as his wishes are, you somehow find yourself rooting for the Phantom. You see his humanity. You feel his pain. You desperately want him to find love and happiness, but sadly that’s not how things work out.
The idea of a villain who is not quite villainous, but rather hurt and misunderstood, tugs at the audience’s heartstrings and makes for a deliciously deep and moving story.
2. The consistency
That may not sound surprising, but to have a show that is consistently incredible no matter who is in the cast is extremely rare. Between the four times I have seen Phantom on Broadway and the one production I saw in Las Vegas, I have seen five different Phantoms and five different Christines. I can honestly say that each and every actor and actress had a flawless voice, acted the parts with incredible emotion, and delivered performances worthy of Tony awards.
Occasionally I will see a show multiple times with different cast members replacing the originals and I’ll find that there is a clear feeling of something missing. I have seen musicals come and go faster than you can say Sondheim, all thanks to the original cast leaving and creating a gaping hole that no other actor can successfully fill.
One of my favorite scenes that is consistently breathtaking is "Masquerade." The song and choreography are utterly triumphant. Every costume shines on its own, but together they create the most extraordinary display of color and grandeur I've ever seen.
I'm also slightly biased towards this scene because I happened to take a master class with some of the ensemble actors a few years back, during which I learned the choreography and harmonies to "Masquerade." Yeah. I'm kind of a big deal.
3. OH MY GOD THE MUSIC
Andrew Lloyd Webber is an absolute genius.
OK fine, I know I tend to throw that word around loosely, but once you hear the score of this show, you’ll understand what I mean. The harmonies are breathtaking. The lyrics are exquisitely beautiful. The orchestrations are chilling.
Every single time I see this show, that famous organ chord strikes and it takes less than a millisecond for goosebumps to pop up all over my body. Writing incredible music is obviously not a very simple task, but to write an entire score of opera music?! It’s simply incredible.
My mom – and loyal Brodway companion – brought up an interesting point about this musical: it is one of few shows whose music is able to stand alone as absolutely amazing without even needing the actors in front of you.
Don’t get me wrong, watching the Phantom in his eerie white mask, rowing through the foggy candle-lit lake is one of the most stunning visuals you’ll ever experience. But there is truth to the fact that you can listen to these songs again and again thanks to their ability to completely transport you into a world of magic until you hear the final high note ringing out to a faint echo.
All three of these are the exact reasons that this earth-shattering musical is celebrating its 25th year on Broadway – and I have a feeling it’s not going anywhere for another 25.
Phantom of the Opera is currently playing at the Majestic Theatre on Broadway.Images via Facebook.