The Phantom Menace of the Opera

Just got back from the touring company production of Phantom of the Opera. Oh, my god, what a contemptible mess. It was only a few minutes into the performance that I determined that an appearance by Jar Jar Binks, Wesley Crusher, and Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen would actively improve the caliber of the production.

At one point, with the senseless spectacle unfolding before me, I was sitting there wondering if I might actually be going deaf. I was thinking about making an appointment with a hearing aid center. I was being thankful for the fact that my next door neighbor wears hearing aids; maybe he could give me advice. Because I could not, for the life of me, understand what was going on onstage. Out of all the lyrics in the show, maybe one word in ten was intelligible, and that number was reduced substantially for every additional cast member on stage. A note to the cast; seven part harmony should be harmonious. I understand that shouting completely different incomprehensible songs at each other may be fun, but you should at least agree beforehand on a key. By the middle of one scene, several of the cast could have been singing Freebird, and nobody would ever have known.

By the time they were muddling through the Masquerade scene, and the Phantom appears in the middle of the group, my boyfriend was about to yell “Jump him! There are fifty of you, and one of him! Jump on him and get it over with!”

Incomprehensibility might have been excusable, if the singing had been emotional, or even technically competent. Instead it was shrill, and devoid of all feeling. During Christine’s declaration of love to her beau, I sincerely expected him to say “Okay, you love me! Stop screaming at me!”

The figurehead above the stage became cheesily posessed and lurched down a few feet, so that the Phantom could whine at the audience in a temper tantrum worthy of Bruce Villanch.

By the last scene, the Phantom remembered that he should be emotionally affected by all the goings-on going on, and he started to show some feeling. Unfortunately, that was about the time that he forgot that he had to project his voice in order to involve the audience in this revelation. As it was, we were treated to some very emotional muttering.

It’s understandable that a major scene featuring a chorus of fifty people might be a bit scattered, a bit slurred, completely incomprehensible. But in what I can only assume (judging by the ticket prices) is a professional touring company, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect them to be on key.

Much of the set design, however, was beautiful, and I was able to distract myself by watching the pretty backdrops. Then it occurred to me, halfway through the first act, that there was a blind guy about two rows in front of us. I could only imagine him sitting there, wondering what the hell was going wrong onstage that was keeping all these people from singing coherently. Then I started wondering if he was starting to think he was going deaf, too. I spent the rest of the show feeling really sorry for him.

I’d heard about the chandelier. I was looking forward to it. I heard it was spectacular.

Yeah. Okay. It flashed a few times, and then wandered down jerkily towards the stage. Then it flashed brightly enough to blind the audience for most of the rest of the act. Which, I suppose, may have been the point.

I could go on. I could describe the Impotent Staff of Ineffective Firespurts, but I won’t. My boyfriend took me to this show, and we both anticipated a wonderful, deeply affecting experience. Instead, we spent over two hours being annoyed and confused.

Perhaps it had to do with the fact that the national touring company has been on the road for over a century. Perhaps it was that this was the second show of the day, and the cast and crew had blown everything on the matinee. Perhaps, and this is what I’m leaning toward, it was that this is Tucson, and we must be hicks here, who will give a standing ovation to anything.

But we paid a pretty serious price for premium tickets to this show, and we would have been better entertained by pelting the cast with peanuts. So, to the people responsible for this mess, piss the hell off. The next time you put on a little show, please try and actually care enough to act, and sing. Hell, the show was so lame that the drummer didn’t even show up until after intermission. (Fortunately they had a Casiotone to fill in for him.) The next time you want to phone in a performance, let us know in advance, so we can pretend to fork over our money.

Wow, that sucks!:frowning:

I saw Phantom here in Korea with Astrogirl a few months ago (Korean cast and all done in Korean), and it was Pfantastic!

See it again with a different touring company if you can… it really IS good if done well!

Damn … if this is the same group that did Phantom at the Pantages in Los Angeles, then they’ve gotten even worse since I saw them. My stage crew self was practically bouncing on the chair in indignation. I had heard better sound and seen better coordination on our high school stage.

I’m just glad that I’d already seen the here-for-half-of-eternity production at the Ahmanson a few times, with Davis Gaines, so I knew it could be better.

I’ve seen Phantom on two occasions at the Majestic Theater in Manhattan, once with Timothy James O’Leary performing in the title role, and at a later date with some other shcmuck.

It makes a hell of a lot of difference who’s singing. This music does not easily forgive someone who can’t sing.

Looking for the road company responsible for this pain and anguish. Google, “tucson phantom opera”.

OMG, it’s on the Web!! :smiley: :smiley: Is it the one at the University of Arizona?

“The Phantom of the Opera–the good, the bad, the chandelier”…

Don’t tell me you paid for the 70 buck seats…

Hee. :smiley:

Yeah. The $70 seats. I have a theory that they have all the critics sit in the first two rows, so they’ll actually be able to hear something.

On the plus side, you know how, for days after seeing a musical, you’ll be humming the tunes to yourself, and wishing you remembered the lyrics? I’m in the enviable position of never having heard the lyrics, so I’m making them up myself. That was one hell of an obscene musical.

Yep, once Paul DiAnno left, it was the beginning of a long slide to sell-out status for Iron Maiden.

Now they’ve got this silly play. Well, I for one refuse to see it.

Well, it is an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical, right? So even with a top-notch production, how good could it be?

I must have lucked out - the only thing I’ve had to complain about so far with the touring shows we’ve seen in San Diego is a sometimes lackluster sound system (well, that and Saturday Night Fever entire, but that’s a 'natch).

But, MrV, was it better than Cats? :wink:


Sounds more like an Andrew Dice Weber production to me…TRM

…conturbat me?


Great, now I’m gonna have that song stuck in my head for the rest of the day. Not that thats a problem, but I’ll have to wait til I get home to hear the whole thing. That and I was wondering what the hell anyone would bring up DiAnno for til I read the whole post.

I attended the show at Centennial Hall, too, and I must admit it was less than the spectacular show I’d been expecting. The acting was somewhat flat–I’ve seen school plays that were more involving–and the chandelier was just confusing. Considering it was the first production of this size I’ve seen, though, I enjoyed it. Also helped that I didn’t have to pay for the tickets. :smiley: I did like some of the scenes though, and Raoul’s actor, Tim Martin Gleason, did a great job. Love that hair.

The sets were pretty, that’s for sure. Lovely sets. Really, really nice sets. I think I could have sat and watched the stagehands move the sets around, and had more fun than watching the play…

A couple of questions, if you don’t mind, BoyleDomon:

Could you hear anything? I still haven’t discounted the possibility that I need my hearing checked out.

Did you notice when the lighting design called for the audience to be lit up from behind? Did you find it distracting that suddenly the audience was more visible than the stage?

I could hear quite a bit, though some of the singers’ voices did get far too high-pitched and mixed up at times. The Notes scenes were actually handled fairly well, and Masquerade. I had to listen closely, though. The solos and duets were naturally a lot easier to listen to.

As for the lighting, that WAS highly annoying. The spotlights seemed to hit the audience more than the actors. I sat left of center, and kept seeing the light out of the corner of my eye. Very distracting.