Old Stories I Tell Myself
Miss Biker Minion threatened to do nasty things to me if I didn’t tell you that I’ve been putting this off since November. O.o
At least, that’s what I think she said. I speak English, Irish and Spanish, but (sadly) not Minion!
One of the thing you may not know about me is that my favorite musical is Phantom of the Opera. (Well, that and St. Julian sparkling juices are a guilty pleasure of mine, but “what I just finished drinking” isn’t exactly the topic of this blog, now, is it?) I’m subscribed to the official Facebook page and there was a post earlier about who we want to see play Erik in the new (television) show they’re developing, so that made me think.
(Off-topic: I’d sure like Patrick Wilson back as Raoul. I never noticed how delicious he was until A Gifted Man and…ugh. I cannot do without those lovely blue eyes! ♥)
Most of you probably know this already, but in case you don’t, here’s a gentle reminder: do not take your eight year old to see this musical, no matter how recently you took her to see Shakespeare! There’s a big difference, you know. Young girls understand castles and queens and fairies, so A Midsummer Night’s Dream is an excellent starter (even if they can’t translate the words)…and there’s no killings, stalking, pedophilia, kidnapping, abusive relationships…did I mention murder threats? (*eyes bug out*)
I saw Phantom for the first time at the Pantages Theatre (now the Mirvish, Google tells me) in Toronto and when we got to the pivotal scene where Erik attempts to hang Raoul…well, my young eyes swore they saw the actor’s feet leave the stage. (If it happened, it was probably a clever bit of theatrical trickery, but it freaked me out.) At some point along the way–don’t ask me how–it became my favorite musical. But after having seen the actual production three times (two professional, one excellent amateur), owning the movie and having read the original book, Susan Kay’s Phantom and Nancy Pettengill’s Journey of the Mask at least three times (not to mention having allowed more than a decade to elapse), I wonder about my choices.
- Murder: Erik hangs Buquet from the catwalk when he ventures too close to discovering the former’s secrets.
- Threats of Murder: Or maybe throwing a noose around Raoul’s neck is a little closer to assault. (I never went beyond an introductory criminal justice class, so I’m not certain.)
- Stalking: If Erik following Christine around the Opera Populaire so he can be with her every minute isn’t stalking, I’m not sure what is.
- Pedophilia: Gaston Leroux never assigns ages to Erik and Christine, but it can be assumed that Erik is anywhere from his mid-forties all the way up to his early fifties. Christine, on the other hand, is approximately sixteen–definitely a teen, whichever way you swing it–and a girl who would probably be living with her parents (were they still alive) when she had time off from living at the opera house. If we decide Erik is about forty-seven, that makes a thirty-one year age difference. I know modes of thought were quite different back when Phantom was written, but it’s quite obvious that Erik’s feelings venture beyond romance and music, leaving his potential relationship with Christine questionable in nature.
- Kidnapping: Okay, so Erik technically hypnotises Christine into his lair; but she is still missing for quite a while, causing her friends and Madame Giry to wonder where she is (and worry, in the case of Meg). In the book, there’s even a part where Erik traps Raoul in a sweltering, mirrored maze–that is unlawful imprisonment, in the eyes of the law.
- Abusive Relationships: Erik is very, very jealous and doesn’t want Christine anywhere near Raoul. He tells her what she can and can’t do, in terms of who she spends time with, what she does with her voice, etcetera. One partner controlling the other is very abusive, even if he doesn’t use harsh words to do so.
That’s what I enjoy (in theatre)? I think I ought to stick with fairies speaking Elizabethan English. O.o
But I digress. Mightily.
The other reason I was thinking of doing this post is because (at the time I started) I recently followed Brad Little on twitter. He had the role of Erik in the 2004 tour and…well…
(Only a whole lot poofier and boy-next-door-ier!)
I honestly can’t count how many other girls have told me, “But he’s too pretty to be the Phantom!” (That, of course, was before I figured out that it’s quite normal for each tour’s Erik to have cut his teeth as Raoul, so doing the “bleached pretty boy” thing isn’t exactly looked down upon.)
Ten years have gone by and I thought Brad was just in Korea for an extended performance of Phantom, but based on the pictures I’ve seen and the videos I found (not that I was looking too hard), he lives there now.
And he’s stopped bleaching his hair, so he looks like he could be Nate Fillion’s brother.
Don’t believe me?
To me, the resemblance is freaky. Like, “I wish Hollywood would discover Brad and do something with a long-lost brother on Castle” freaky. Wow.
(Oh and as a sidebar, anyone who’s ever seen Dr. Horrible knows that Nate can sing. 😉 )
I think where I was going with this is–despite its abusive (and slightly criminal) pretenses–Phantom is kind of romantic, in a strange sort of way. (I want to say “like Camille“, but Camille‘s crazy meter is higher than Phantom‘s.) So…is “vaguely romantic” a thing?…that I used to have a proposal fantasy that involved my future fiancé sneaking away during intermission and swapping with the actor playing Erik and…this seems quite silly and extremely unlikely the more I talk about it, so I’m just going to stop.
Is it weird that I think my favorite stage performance was the amateur one?
Don’t get me wrong…Brad is uhMAZING (wait ’til you see how he stacks up against Gerry)…but there was a certain no se lo que to high schoolers doing it; especially since they managed the chandelier and the boat and did a gender-swap on one of the managers (who was great, by the way). Also, they were very lucky to find such a talented soprano to play Christine. Since they spent most of the year preparing, I imagine she spent endless hours rehearsing with the choir director.
Brad is still my favorite stage Erik, though; just as Gerry Butler will always be my all-around Erik . The movie was fantastic and I love it to pieces…and I daresay that it was even better than I expected. (I don’t like Carlotta; but really, if you can find a better Carlotta than Minnie Driver, I might eat my hat!)
I promised audio comparison at the end, so here we are. I must say that I was honestly surprised that our tough, gruff Scotsman actually has a higher voice than Brad! (But Brad will never be in action movies, amirite?)
By the way: I was such a big Brad nut back in the day that I have two autographed pictures and he wrote me a letter. See, I promised him one day that when he was old and gray, his grandchildren would push him into the theatre in a wheelchair and he’d see me playing Madame Giry, since I’ve never taken a moment of ballet in my life and I’m not a soprano. Now it seems completely giggleworthy and I’m content for making my name (if I ever can) writing books.
And singing songs from Phantom when I’m alone in the house. ^_^
Gerry Butler singing “Music of the Night” in the movie. (2004)
(Ignore the grey “this video has been pulled” screen. The link is working as of 2/2/18…I don’t know why it’s behaving like that.)
Brad doing the same song with the KBS Symphony in South Korea (2011?)
Floats away on a little cloud of faery dust…