Ridley: We’ve been to the musical, Phantom of the Opera. Both Latimer and I went to see this in the Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin (now renamed the Bord Gais Theatre, though everyone refuses to call it that!)
Latimer: It’s a real shame that the theatre was renamed, because the ‘Grand Canal’ makes it sound very opulent and grand, but the Bord Gais (‘Gas board’ in Irish.. because the Irish Gas Board sponsor it now) makes it cringe-worthy.
Ridley: It was really fantastic going though, name choice aside! I don’t often go to the theatre, but when I do go, I always wonder why I don’t do it more often, as I feel quite cultured! 🙂 The costumes were so vibrant, the set design was clever and the music just swept you along. If you ever get a chance to see this in theatres, go, you won’t be disappointed! Your eyes will just want to drink it all in!
Latimer: Myself and Ridley went to see Lord of the Rings, the soundtrack score in this theatre (‘Grand Canal’ at that point). I remember complaining that the seating was bad (we were about three rows from the front). And the layout felt very cramped.
But this time I was sitting on the upper circle and it was pretty fantastic. I recommend that seating area now! I went with my Mam and Aunt, and my Aunt has been to this theatre lots of times and she knows what seats to book now.
Ha. I suppose it’s trial and error.
And in introducing my Aunt, I introduce an old, old fact from the Grand Canal’s medieval past- a detour through time now if you will!
Outside the theatre, there are many red poles (as you see above).
Ridley, did you ponder, what these meant? I didn’t give them a second thought, only thinking; ‘oh, some arty poles’.
Ridley: I have asked before ‘what’s with the red sticks’ but no one ever knows! I’m sensing you do…
Latimer: Ah, my Aunt told me that they mean something…
There’s a street opposite the theatre called Forbes Street. And in medieval Dublin this was were the lepers were sectioned (it was known as ‘Misery Hill’).
The red poles are symbolic of the saying, ‘I would not touch them with a barge pole’ in reference to the lepers.
Very eerie now in that respect eh?
By night the poles are lit. The above picture is them after the show was finished!
Well now… back to the Phantom! I agree that the set-design was fantabulous! My god I couldn’t get over it. Ridley, please, explain the story if you will…
Ridley: Well, most people know the story of Phantom of the Opera. For those that don’t, it’s basically a tragic love story. The phantom is a deformed man, a ghost who lives in the depths of a theatre. He falls in the love with the young and beautiful Christine Daaé. He watches her from the shadows and teaches her to sing without revealing himself. She believes he is her Angel of Music, a being from heaven sent by her father to watch over her. It is the phantom that arranges for Christine to get her first big break in the theatre. He bullies and forces the owners to feature her as their star. While she is singing as the lead in the play, her childhood friend Raoul sees her and they reconnect. Thus begins the dangerous love triangle, where Christine must decide between her old friend and her Angel of Music.
The 2004 movie with Gerard Butler is the version that I know best. Not a bad version of the phantom to love, Gerard Butler, eh? Teehee. It’s a bit like Doctor Who, everyone has their favourite Doctor and everyone has their favourite phantom! Gerard is mine! (I also have the soundtrack from this version of the Phantom of the Opera and I play it often. It’s really beautiful.)
Now, I’ve always thought Christine should have chosen the phantom over Raoul. My view on this has never changed, no matter how many times I’ve seen the musical-either in the theatre or in the cinema. Raoul’s affections always seemed so fleeting and shallow. He only remembers his love for her when he hears her singing at the opera-after she’s become the lead performer. Whereas the phantom has loved her all this time, helping her and protecting her…
Dramatic, mysterious, passionate and powerful, that is what the phantom is for me. I’ve always found myself drawn to him. I suppose I’ve always liked the bad boy, the evil genius. The phantom had the swirling black cape, a mask framing eyes that captivated and a hidden lair that he filled with haunting music. At the same time, he was damaged and vulnerable in some ways. Raoul was always pathetic compared to him. He also certainly didn’t get the massive swells of music from the organ at his sudden appearance.
With regards to Christine, I don’t think I’ve ever liked her as a character. On one hand, I can understand that she’d be terrified of the phantom, having been suddenly kidnapped by him. He is quite menacing. But I can’t seem to shake the soft spot I have for him, despite being a kidnapper and a murderer (I seemed to have glossed over this part in past versions, I’d forgotten about it but I was abruptly reminded he killed a stage hand, when I watched the musical in the theatre the other day! The sympathy I feel for the phantom is certainly diminished when I take this into account, so I generally have to forget this happens!)
I think that Christine uses the phantom. She preys on his vulnerable side, the side that has never seen friendship or love. He’s had only hatred, disgust and fear thrown at him. Without him, her career wouldn’t have progressed as far as it did, nor would she have been able to sing like she does. She plays on his affections for her and then betrays him in the end.
Latimer: Actually watching it all again, in this form, I can understand her not loving the Phantom though. Because he wasn’t sympathic and he was pretty ruthless. I remember in the movie thinking, ah she should have picked the Phantom (I was annoyed that she didn’t to be honest!).
Yet in this musical version (possibly the real version- aside from the book!), I felt it was all mixed up, I didn’t like the Phantom. The characters I really liked were the two men who buy the theatre at the start. I found them funny and enjoyable (light-hearted among the grimness). My Aunt saw it in London and said that this Dublin version has been cut down alot, so we missed out on some backstory etc
Ridley: The funny thing is that all changes in the sequel to Phantom of the Opera, which I never realised existed! It’s called Love Never Dies, and I have some major problems with it. (Spoiler alert here)
Latimer: This is beyond ridiculous…!
Ten years after the events of Phantom of the Opera, the phantom tricks Christine and Raoul into coming to New York, where he wants to hear Christine sing once again (I’d like to point out, his love for her still hasn’t faded!) Christine has a son, Gustave. It turns out that this is the phantom’s son! (My jaw dropped at this! Latimer: what the Dicken’s? haha, this is just so bad!) Never, not once is there ever any hint that Christine and the phantom were in anyway intimate in the musical or the films. Perhaps this occurs in the book? (which i’ll admit I haven’t read, so i’m very open to being corrected on this) Not only this, through the phantom’s scheming, he convinces Raoul to leave Christine, which he does-without any fighting to save their marriage! Then suddenly it seems Christine has always loved the phantom and she finally stops fighting against this love. Based on the musicals I’ve seen, I would have always said she’d felt nothing but pity and disgust for him. Perhaps at most, she had an affection for her Angel of Music, but no this undying love.
Latimer: She found this false, undying love very quickly, considering how she left things in the Opera house in Phantom of the Opera. I’m still shaking my head at this. It was obviously fabricated in light of creating another cash cow.
Incidentally, he’s (the Phantom) running a theme park in Coney Island when we meet him again in ‘Love Never Dies’. And it’s called Phantasma… oh my…. oh my…
Ridley: Well, also, the other final thing I have a problem with is when Gustave finds out the phantom is his father. He decides to stay and join him at the theme park in New York, instead of following after Raoul when he leaves. Raoul is the man he’s known all his life, the one he’s always considered his father and yet he wanders off with this random stranger instead? What? Would that really happen? I don’t think so! Hmm…
All the same, despite all my nit-picking and wish to change the ending, I still love the story! I think there are quite a number of people out there that love it too, or am I wrong? 🙂
Latimer: While I really enjoyed my trip to the theatre and also, the set design and experience of the musical was just amazing, I don’t actually like the story of Phantom of the Opera.
But still, it was a nice night! Also, random that we both attended separately, but we have joined together, like bubbles caught in an updraft to write this post. After-which we’ll pop, likely never to speak of it again! Ha 🙂
Ridley: Yes…bubbles….. *pop* 😀