Tonight, after lifting weights and climbing the wall on campus, Matt and I went to Utica to see the American premier of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Love Never Dies
. It's a sequel to Phantom of the Opera
Yep, it opened in Utica. Of all places.
There were distinctive highs and lows.
- Fantastic spectacular. Creepy turn-of-the-century carnival vibe -- I love it! Light and music and dancing!
- And the carnival theme music was perfect... very evocative of the music played by turn-of-the-century carousels (like the ones in Binghamton). But with lovely strings.
- The singers were amazing. Christine and the Phantom, of course, had great voices. Everyone cheered.
- Suprise amazing soloist: the little son. Holy cow that kid could hit some gorgeous high notes. Love it. (Jump to 1:21 in the video embedded below. Amazing!)
- Rotating stage! Characters dancing inside transparent pillars! The production was intense and amazing.
- The Phantom suddenly popping in from everywhere and no-where any time he likes -- so characteristic! Love it.
- The... plot? What happened to the plot? Especially at the end there. Who are these people and what is motivating them again?
- Matt described the show as fanfiction.
- I had to basically pretend that this musical exists in a different canon than the story about a horrible man who randomly kills people by dropping a chandelier on them. (Maybe in the musical it's not clear that anyone dies? I don't see how a opera house chandelier could fall on an audience without dreadful consequences. There is a horror movie version of Phantom that really gets pretty gruesome for this scene.) Unlike Phantom of the Opera, The Phantom is not murderous in Love Never Dies and no one talks about him being a known murderer. Listen, just because a man is a brilliant avant-garde composer, beautiful singer, and has a knack for architecture, that does not excuse random slaughter. Gosh, the novel is even better, where the Phantom has a torture chamber built of mirrors and a heat lamp -- and a noose. And what about the time when the Phantom almost blows up the entire opera house! Can we talk about how he is a mass murderer? Erik is not a nice guy, unless you put some serious scare quotes on there. "This haunted face holds no horror for me now / It's in your soul that the true distortion lies." But again, this was fanfiction, and apparently the Phantom is not so bad anymore.
- The title song was beautifully delivered, but it was kind of blah. It's supposed to be a composition by the Phantom, who was awfully avant garde, last I recall. The melody of "Love Never Dies" was hardly comparable to the so-crazy-it-works Don Juan from the original Phantom. (Don Juan -- "Poor young maiden, for the thrill on your tongue of stolen sweets, You will have to pay the price... tangled in the winding sheets!" Please don't tell me I'm the only one who can sing all this from memory.)
Overall-- I liked it! But it can never replace the original Phantom of the Opera in my heart. Great show, with some reservations about the plot.