So back to the story, which in the years since I last saw it, I forgot the craziness of. While Christine is getting her voice lessons from what she thinks is the ‘Angel of Music’ that her now-deceased father had once promised he would send to her (creepy incestuous and patriarchal b.s. runs rampant), the opera is undergoing a change in management. Unfortunately, the new owners and managers can’t be bothered with the talk of this rumored ‘phantom of the opera’ who causes accidents if he isn’t happy, and they reeeally can’t be bothered with paying this ghost his usual salary: 20,000 of some currency per month. Holy crap, that’s some good money. But he lives in the freaking sewers or some such; what on earth does he do with that money? Burn it for warmth? Or is that how much his fog machine upkeep costs? And his wimpy flame thrower? Actually I think he spends it all on sequins. He like invented the Bedazzler, so it would seem. But then he’d have Bedazzler money too! Where does all the money go?! Can I have some??
The new bosses ignore his demands, which he communicates through many notes passed through Madame Giry, the severe dance mistress who generally knows what’s up with Phantom. (Giry also has a young daughter in the ballet who, whenever the Phantom pulls one of his shenanigans, leaps across the stage and sing-songs “the phantom of the opera!” in like no discernible key and it’s hilarrrious.) This upsets the Phantom because being ignored sucks, so he starts offing people! Like, hold up Webber! I don’t know why people refer to this as a family show, but this is totally dark and scary! I can’t do horror movies, so thank goodness there was incredible music here else I would have peed myself.
The Phantom is frustrated that people aren’t taking him seriously. He becomes murderous and destructive, crashing the famous chandelier (which is still a great piece of theatrical magic), and yet he thinks all of this will win Christine’s love? Not that he cares about reciprocation but it seems he is doing everything for her.
Damn I never realized just how creepy this show is. Seriously, it should come with all kinds of warnings, especially about how utterly misogynistic it is! Omg! Really, even more than Sierra, the biggest standout of seeing it again was realizing how patriarchal and anti-feminist the whole thing is. The premise is that this creepster, shadowy male figure wants to take this young naïve girl to his dark lair of darkness to be his child bride forever. And she misses her father and Cannot. Stop. Talking. About him. And she recalls how her father, on his deathbed, promised to send to her the Angel of Music. And she thinks the Phantom, the creepy sort of man that she should have been told to fear and stay away from, is this Angel of Music, so she keeps being nice to him even though he is KILLING PEOPLE. Because she thinks her father sent him to take care of her. So like, the Phantom is himself a father figure to Christine but he’s also obsessed with her and she is in turn kind of drawn to him because of the father figure stuff or maybe because he does magic. It’s all super creepy. So the Phantom is like, “I must have you, I don’t care what you might actually want, because ha ha that doesn’t matter, and I don’t care if you’re scared because women be scared allatimes, and oh wait, you’re already engaged to your childhood sweetheart Raoul? Well I’ll at least pay attention to that, because we all know the universal rule among men is that the only valid reason a woman wouldn’t want to be with a certain man or do what he says is if she already belongs to another man.” Seriously, this is how most men think, and the Phantom and Raoul exemplify that. So anyway the Phantom is like, “I guess I have to kill Raoul…orrrr I’ll kill the poor random guy who works the sets, and just shoot fireballs at Raoul.”
The best part is that Raoul, our Prince Charming/savior/supposedly decent guy, is exactly like the Phantom! Just better dressed and coiffed and less deformed. Seriously, right after the Phantom kills the set guy, Raoul sings to Christine, “Forget your wide-eyed fears, I’m here. Nothing can harm you.” I MEAN, he sings this to her after the Phantom LITERALLY just killed a guy in front of a packed audience! But Raoul’s a man, so he’s like, “Christine, baby, why are you scared? It’s just a crazy unstoppable murderer on the loose, NBD! I’M HERE, AND I HAVE A PENIS. WE’RE ALL GOOD.” How f-ing dumb is that! What can his blond hair and pinkie ring do to stop the violence? I bet you that whenever someone, anywhere in the universe, is struggling to open a jar, Raoul appears in the doorway and goes “Gimme, I got it. I got it. Gimme it.”
Raoul also mansplains to Christine that, since he didn’t see the Phantom’s lair, she is totes prob making it up, because poor small woman brain. Luckily, he gets captured by the Phantom in said lair when he is trying to rescue Christine, so he learns a little lesson. Also, while Christine decides whether to save Raoul and marry the Phantom or…not, Raoul is hanging in a noose and imitating Chiwetel in “12 Years A Slave”, trying to keep a toe on the ground. For like TEN MINUTES, while Phantom and Christine are discussing the options and singing and stuff. It was ridic.
Unfortunately, the fighting over who gets to keep Christine doesn’t end with her being like, “Both of you, begone! I have a career to focus on,” but with her kissing the Phantom to show him kindness (because he deserves it?) and then marrying Raoul. Yet despite the book’s crazy heavy misogyny and light-on-the-happy vibe, the music and the performances make this actually a must-see. If you are like the many, many people who watch Downton Abbey as a comedy, you’ll love all the crazy in this. Norm is fantastic, though aside from “Music of the Night” the music doesn’t let his voice shine as much as it can. It does seem perfectly written for Sierra, though, and her performance is a revelation. (Even though she doesn’t realize how cool it would be to be a prima donna in a great opera house without worrying about two not-so-great men fighting over her.) I didn’t see the sequel, “Love Never Dies”, but I like to imagine that it features Christine saying, “Listen guys, you need to stay at least 50 feet from me because I’m gonna be a great opera star, and you guys are trippin’.”
Obviously a must-see.