The longest running broadway show ever, The Phantom of the Opera features some really beautiful songs that almost disguise an incredibly disturbing plot and intensely unlikeable characters. Here is our take on it (based on the Royal Albert Hall version on Netflix…there’s no way we’d buy this shit).
The play opens on an auction of boring old junk from the attic of a p opera house. Of note is a creepy monkey with cymbals on top of a music box and a broken chandelier. The rest of the play is a flashback, and we like to think it’s the monkey’s flashback.
He saw it all, folks. And it made him sad.
After a serious attack of dramatic music, we have a play-rehearsal-within-a-play, some theater drama, and are introduced to our female lead, Christine:
We’re also introduced to the new owners of the theater who are clearly a quirky gay couple:
And we meet the Legolas of Phantom of the Opera, who runs across the stage giving exposition:
The Phantom of the OOOOOperaaaaaaaaa! That’s the naaaaaaame, the Phantom of the OOOOOOperaaaaa!
Christine obviously gets her big break and sings as the lead in the play, replacing the diva Carlotta. The patron of the opera house turns out to be Christine’s childhood friend and is in love with her.
The lady in the background is also in love with Christine.
We call this guy Eyebrows. We have no clue what his real name is, but it may start with an R.
Now, to this point we have yet to see our title character, but that changes when Eyebrows asks Christine to go to dinner with him. Christine says she can’t because “the angel of music,” the voice coach she’s never seen, will be angry. Eyebrows ignores Christine’s refusal and runs off in blissful anticipation. But Christine doesn’t make it to dinner because…
THE PHANTOM KIDNAPS HER.
And we discover that the Phantom’s real name is Ruffles.
Some may argue that Christine goes willingly with him, but look at this:
Being dragged down a walkway doesn’t look very wiling to me. And at this point, Christine has already said that the Phantom frightens her, which will become a theme through the entire play.
Regardless, since Christine has the common sense and IQ of a ten year old, she clearly believes that this man is the angel of music sent to her by her dead father. In fact, the Phantom has been deliberately cultivating that idea in her head for quite some time, presumably to make his future kidnapping easier.
Christine and the Phantom ride in a romantic riverboat through the sewers to the Phantom’s lair.
Feces are the food of love
The Phantom commands her to sing and Christine does, seemingly unable to disobey. Then comes the song we’re calling “I Wanna Get Rapey With You” (aka “Music of the Night”).
It starts with this, about how nighttime is sexy time:
Night time sharpens, heightens each sensation
Darkness stirs and wakes imagination
Silently the senses abandon their defenses
And then there’s this:
Grasp it, sense it, tremulous and tender
Which is totally about his penis.
Purge your thoughts of the life you knew before
I AM YOUR WORLD!!
Softly, deftly, music shall caress you
hear it, feel it, secretly possess you
Open up your mind, let your fantasies unwind
In this darkness that you know you cannot fight
The darkness of the music of the night
is translated as
Softly, deftly, let me caress you
hear me, feel me, secretly possess you
Open up your mind, let your sexual fantasies unwind
In this dungeon, where you know you cannot fight
The darkness of my sexy rapey plans
You’re welcome, Andrew Lloyd Weber, we fixed it for you.
Leave all thoughts of the life you knew before
Let your soul take you where you long to be
Only then can you belong to me
IF I CAN’T HAVE YOU, NO ONE CAN!!
Floating, falling, sweet intoxication
Touch me, trust me, savor each sensation
Let the dream begin, let your darker side give in
To the power of the music that I write
The power of the music of the night
The Phantom thinks of sex more than a teenaged boy.
You alone can make my song take flight
Help me make the music of the night
You alone make my penis erect/Please sex me up.
Was it good for you, too?
All sung in the context of Ruffles holding a girl hostage in his sewer dungeon.
By the way, Ruffles also has a douche-y pinky ring!
Congrats, Christine, your stalker is a real winner!
After the rape song, Christine passes out from either terror or joy. When she wakes up, Ruffles is playing the organ discordantly like the “genius” he is.
The poor monkey is still there, wishing for eyelids and earplugs.
Christine sings about how confused she is about everything, then gets the brilliant idea to yank off the Phantom’s mask.
Not much peripheral vision in that mask, eh Ruffles?
The Phantom is pissed, calls Christine a demon, and flings her to the floor. Then he gets all emo, moaning about being a gargoyle. And this line happens:
Fear can turn to love
You’ll learn to see, to find the man behind the monster
Which is such a healthy sentiment for any budding relationship. Commit it to memory, ladies!
The scene cuts to a janitor terrorizing some delicate ballerinas.
With bonus heavy-handed foreshadowing.
Our quirky gay couple and Eyebrows reappear, complaining about Christine’s disappearance and the Phantom’s demands.
Le sigh. They are the real stars of this show.
They’re joined by Carlotta and there’s some more yelling/singing until we discover that the Phantom wants Christine to sing the lead in the next play. He threatens them with a “disaster beyond your imagination.”
We can imagine a lot, Ruffles.
As any rational person would, the gay couple refuses to obey the weird hermit who lives in the sewers. The next play within a play starts and we realize that all the plays involve women cheating on their husbands. Just bonus women-hating I guess.
The Phantom is super pissed about being disobeyed. He punishes Carlotta by casting a spell that makes her croak like frog on stage.
The WOO! Wizard of the Opera!
After his little magical tantrum, the Phantom gets what he wants and Christine will play the lead. But apparently the crazy is just too hard to contain because immediately after the announcement, Ruffles goes ahead and kills the janitor anyway. Why the janitor? Maybe the Phantom knew how much the janitor loved terrorizing dancers and wanted to help him out. We don’t know and Andrew Lloyd Weber probably didn’t either. Moving on.
We next see Christine trying to run away from the opera house. Eyebrows stops her and demonstrates everything that’s wrong with the men in Christine’s life:
We can’t go back there!
We must return!
The song goes on, with Christine expressing sheer terror of the stalker who’s just killed a man for no apparent reason and Eyebrows telling her that it’s all in her head. Then Christine sings this:
But his voice filled my spirit
with a strange, sweet sound
In that night there was music in my mind
And through music my soul began to soar!
And I heard as I’d never heard before
So let’s recap: this guy kidnaps you, drags you to his dungeon and holds you there long enough for it to make the news, then kills a random guy just because you didn’t get a role you never wanted. But he sings pretty so your feelings are conflicted.
Bullshit. Let us clarify things for you, sister. Go with your first instinct and run. Run far and fast from both of these guys and find another theater to perform in.
Of course that doesn’t happen. Christine collapses, Eyebrows takes pity and helps her up. Then they go immediately into a romantic ballad in which Christine asks Eyebrows to hide her and Eyebrows says that he will guide her.
The Phantom, because he’s everywhere all the time, sees this sickening display. He’s responds with this:
I gave you my music, made your song take wing
And now, how you’ve repaid me, denied me and betrayed me
You will curse the day you did not do
All that the Phantom asked of you!
So, in short, you didn’t sleep with me and now shit’s about to get real.
[Intermission. Second half tomorrow.]