The Phantom in 49: Breening “The Phantom of the Opera” by Andrew Lloyd Webber

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When Rebekah planned her Phantom of the Opera Blogathon, I tried to think of a good topic. I wanted to write an apropos article which would be an interesting addition to the site at large as well as to the blogathon. Finally, last week, it occurred to me that the most interesting article I could write would be a Code film version of an un-Code version of this story. I had already breened the 1925 film, and I didn’t want to breen the 1962 British movie. Then, I took an idea from Rebekah’s topic for this blogathon. She is imaging a Code version of Yeston and Kopit’s musical Phantom with Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. I decided to write about my own proposed Code film of a play about Phantom of the Opera. I am going to describe how Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous musical could have been an MGM film musical from 1949. I will discuss changes which would be made for the adaption, casting, and treatment. Extensive breening will be necessary, since this is far from a Code musical. Let’s begin by discussing the creative team and cast, and then we will proceed to discuss adaptions and necessary changes. Since this will be a very detailed breening project, this article will also qualify as this week’s Breening Thursday article.

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Erik, the masked Phantom who lives beneath the opera, would be played by Howard Keel. Christine Daae, the young soprano who becomes the Phantom’s protégé, would be played by Kathryn Grayson. Raoul de Chagny, the handsome young viscount who was Christine’s childhood sweetheart, would be played by Mario Lanza. Meg Giry, the ballerina who is Christine’s best friend, would be played by Jane Powell. Madame Giry, the ballet mistress and Meg’s mother, would be played by Agnes Moorhead. Carlotta Giudicelli, the pompous prima donna of the opera, would be played by Marina Koshetz. Ubaldo Piangi, the opera’s leading tenor and Carlotta’s sweetheart, would be played by Lauritz Melchior; since Mr. Melchior had such a definite Germanic look and strong Danish accent, the character should be changed from an Italian tenor to a Danish tenor named Gustave Pierson. Richard Firmin, the bigger manager at the Paris Opera, would be played by Edward Everett Horton. Giles Andre, the smaller manager at the Paris Opera, would be played by Eric Blore. Joseph Buquet, the scene shifter who speaks too freely about the Phantom, would be played by William Tannen. The auctioneer, who presides over the auction in the prologue, would be played by Edward Arnold. The danseur noble, the main dancer in the two ballet sequences, would be played by James Mitchell. The film would be directed by Robert Z. Leonard. It would be produced by Joe Pasternak. The new dialogue which must be added would be written by Gladys Lehman and Richard Connell.

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The Phantom of the Opera with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Charles Hart, and a book by Richard Stilgoe debuted in London in 1986. It came to Broadway in 1989, where it has been playing for the last thirty years, breaking all records. During the past thirty-three years, Lord Lloyd Webber and his collaborators have made several adjustments, additions, and deletions to the show. Thus, one must choose some standard from which to work in imagining this show as a film. I have never actually seen this whole show, live or on a recording. However, I have listened to the original cast recording with Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman countless times. My sister has also played the 25th anniversary soundtrack with Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess many times, as well as the soundtrack to the 2004 film. Nevertheless, the only complete version of this play which I have heard from start to finish is a full video of a Los Angeles production from August 29, 1993. It was recorded from the audience, and many refer to it as a “bootleg” recording, since it is on YouTube. However, after receiving 161,000 views, it is hardly a secret. This recording stars Davis Gaines as the Phantom and Dale Kristien as Christine. This particular show was the closing performance of the Los Angeles production, which reopened in San Francisco in December. The video quality isn’t very good, but the audio quality is clear, which is the most important thing with this show. I provided the full video below so that you can follow along with me. Going through the whole film, I will describe my artistic changes in bold font and my breening notes in normal print. Now, with no further ado, let the breening begin. Gentlemen!

BREENED

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Hadley Fraser as Raoul buying the music box, 25th anniversary show.

In the auction in the prologue, the aged Raoul buys a monkey music box. Then, he sings to himself about how it is exactly as Christine described it. It wouldn’t work well for him to be singing aloud but “aside” in a movie. I think we will take an idea from the 2004 and have this be overdubbed to show us what he is thinking.

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The chandelier with Satanic connotations.

In this auction, the climactic and final item being sold is “a chandelier in pieces.” All the items at the auction are numbered lots. The chandelier, which figured in the “famous disaster” connected with the Phantom of the Opera, is Lot 666. In Chapter 13 of the book of Revelations, the last book in the New Testament in the Bible, this is the number of a wild beast with seven heads and ten horns which comes out of the sea. Because of this, this number, which represents a two-third, is called “the number of the beast.” In some Christian groups and in some areas of culture, it represents the devil. Many hold this number to have very strong Satanic connotations. No doubt the inclusion of this number was no coincidence but was intended to give the Phantom dark, Satanic links. This number should be changed to some acceptable number. Anything else except thirteen would be fine.

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The journey to the past during the overture in the 2004 film.

After the auction ends with the line “gentlemen!”, the overture begins. In the theatre, the organ theme song accompanies the sight of the chandelier lighting up and rising off the stage to its place at the theatre’s ceiling as the music brings us back to the days when the Phantom haunted the Paris Opera. In a film, it would have to be done the right way. The chandelier would light up as the first dramatic chord of the overture played. At the same moment, the title “Phantom of the Opera” would appear on the screen. (I know that it is a little progressive for a scene to appear before the credits in a 1949, but the fact that the movie is based on a play with a prologue excuses this forward-thinking idea.) I don’t want to steal the transition from the 2004 film, which used the time during the overture to show every part of the theatre transforming to its former glory. I think that, when the chandelier lights up, instead of beginning to rise, the image should transition in a burst of light to a page which looks like an opera play bill and says the title. Then, the opera house could appear again, back in its glorious state but empty and frozen. The camera could pan around and focus on various playbills, statues, and other aspects of architecture, where we would find the names of the cast and creative team. When this process was over, the scene would come to life, and we would see the performers onstage as at the beginning of Act I.

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The theatrical accompaniments to the famous overture.

During the overture, a heavy rock and roll beat can be heard beneath the organ and other instruments, driving the song and beating the rhythm into the audience. This beat must be eliminated. Not only does it stimulate the baser element, which is acceptable, it hadn’t been introduced to American culture yet in 1949! (I know the whole idea of making a film out of a play when its composer was only one year old is preposterous, but you have to bear with me and use your imagination!)

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Onstage at the opera, we see Carlotta rehearsing. She is playing the leading lady in Hannibal, an opera by Shanimal. The opera and its composer are mentioned twice in this work. I think that “Shanimal’s Hannibal” is just too stupid. Hannibal should have been written by some other fictional composer, such as someone named Schinkler.

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Minnie Driver as Carlotta holds the severed head in the 2004 film.

As this character, Carlotta is holding a prop which is supposed to be a severed head. This grotesque item must be removed.

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An unidentified Carlotta in the indecent dress.

The costume which Carlotta wears in this rehearsal tends to have a low neckline, which is indecently revealing on more voluptuous ladies. In addition, the upper part of the top is tan material with beads over it. From a distance, it looks like it is just beads. This material should be a darker color. It should be ensured that the costume is properly covering.

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Christine, Meg, and other ballerinas in indecent costumes.

Then, the ballet chorus rushes onstage. These young ladies’ necklines are too low. They must be raised. Also, their skirts consist of nothing more than strips of material. These skirts should be solid and reach to their knees.

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An unidentified Piangi.

Then, Pierson (Piangi) enters, playing Hannibal. He sings the line, “Sad to return to find the land we love threatened once more by Roma’s far-reaching grasp.” The chief repetiteur, Reyer, scolds the Italian tenor for saying Roma rather than Rome. Now that the character is Scandinavian rather than Italian, this line isn’t appropriate. Instead, he should sing, “Sad to return to find the lant ve love….” Reyer could then instruct him to sing “land we love” instead. Pierson would then reply, “Ja, ja. We love. I’m sorry. It’s very hard for me.”
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Sergei Polunin as the slave master at the 25th anniversary.

Then, the ballet sequence with the slave master begins. In this semi-classical dance, the danseur performs isolated hip movements twice. This “kootch” action is suggestive and unacceptable. It must be removed from the choreography. Later in the dance, the slave master lies down on the ground on his back, and another character steps over him. This looks suggestive. He should remain on his feet the whole time.

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More strange choreography from the Ballet of Hannibal.

During this dance, the girls in the corps de ballet lie down on the ground flat on their backs for a moment. This action should be removed. They must remain in a vertical position.

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Kevin McNally as Joseph Buquet in the 2004 film.

While Carlotta is singing “Think of Me,” a backdrop falls down and frightens her. Everyone calls for Joseph Buquet, but he sings a little interlude explaining that it was the Phantom, not he, who caused the accident. For this play to be a good movie, some singing will have to be changed to normal speech. Unlike the 2004 direct adaption, this 1949 film would require actual dialogue rather than spoken rhyming lyrics. He should simply explain the situation, using lines written by Miss Lehman and Mr. Connell.

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Rosemary Ashe as Carlotta in the original London production.

The new managers are very perplexed by how transfixed the company is by the legend of the Phantom of the Opera. One of them says, “God in Heaven, you people are all obsessed.” The italicized expression is profane usage of God’s name, which is forbidden under the Code. This irreverent exclamation should be replaced with “Good heavens.”

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Hadley Fraser as Raoul at 25th anniversary.

When Christine sings “Think of Me” in Carlotta’s place, Raoul chimes in from his box, recognizing his childhood friend. He sings, “How young and innocent we were.” To say that they were innocent when they knew each other before implies that he, at least, is no longer innocent. The word innocent should be replaced with frivolous to remove these negative connotations.

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Ballerinas shouldn’t flaunt their figures.

Meg’s neckline, as well as those of the other ballerinas in their white tutus, tends to be too low-cut. It should be ensured that all the ballerinas are decently covered.

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Emmy Rossum and Jennifer Ellison in the 2004 film.

Meg enters Christine’s dressing room, singing the repeated “Christine, Christine” cadence. I think she should call rather than sing her friend’s name. Then, a girlish conversation should ensue. They could discuss Christine’s success and how much progress she has made since the last time Meg heard her sing. Then, Meg could go into the “Where in the world” song. Then, there is a brief musical interlude before Christine begins singing “Father once spoke, etc.” This musical interlude should be lengthened so that there is time for Christine and Meg to have more dialogue before Christine starts singing. I am taking this idea from the 2004 movie, since I think the concept worked well here. Christine should tell Meg how she first heard a mysterious voice in her dressing room three months ago. She realized that it must be the voice of the Angel of Music about whom her father told her. He confirmed that identity. He has taught her ever since. Then, she could begin singing. After Meg sings “Don’t be frightened,” more dialogue should ensue. She could tell Christine that it sounds like her dressing room is haunted. She could proceed to tell her the stories of the mysterious figure in a mask who haunts the opera house and lives in its cellars. He is called The Phantom of the Opera. Meg has seen him herself. Christine is appalled at the suggestion that her beloved angel is actually a ghost. Then, Madame Giry could come in and order Meg to practice, as in the existing play.

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Meghan Picerno and Jonathan Roxmouth in a 2019 Singapore production.

When Christine puts on her dressing gown, her skirt should not be open in the front. Her legs must be fully covered, as must her chest.

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Raoul attempts to evade the managers at The King’s Academy Theater Company’s student production.

When Raoul expresses his desire to visit Christine’s dressing room, the managers read an immoral meaning into their relationship. As they are walking away, one of the managers slowly intones, “They appear to have met before.” The emphasis which he puts on the line makes it unacceptable. He should say it faster and without implication.

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Steve Barton, the original Raoul of the 1986 London production.

Just for the record, the second lead’s name should be pronounced ra-OOL, rhyming with “a fool,” not ROWL, rhyming with “growl.” I know that this sometimes would throw off the rhythm of lyrics. If the wording or accent couldn’t be changed slightly, Raoul could be replaced with dear.

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Raoul and Christine exchange more singing than words.

When Raoul comes in, he and Christine have a little dialogue. However, they quickly go into the “Little Lotte” song. I would like for them to have more conversation in this scene about when and where they knew each other, giving more definition to their relationship. The facts about their past could be derived from the original novel.

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Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford with the Mirror in the original 1986 show.

In the “Angel of Music” sequence which follows, the Phantom sings to Christine. In the lyrics, she asks him to appear to her, which he does, but the fact that he spookily appears in the mirror looking nothing like an angel does nothing to dampen her rapture. In fact, the text of the play doesn’t even deal with the fact that he deceived her until Act II. She doesn’t seem disillusioned at all. Maybe that works onstage, but it needs more explanation in a film. After the Phantom sings, “I am there inside,” the singing should stop. Then, he should appear in the mirror with more dramatic accompaniment than the “Angel of Music” melody. Christine should gasp and appear shocked by the masked vision in the mirror. She could say, “Oh, Meg was right. You are the ghost, just as she said.” Tears could gather in her eyes. Then, the Phantom should say, “I am sorry to have deceived you, child, but now you must know the truth about me. I am not an angel, nor a genius, nor a ghost. I am Erik, the Phantom of the Opera!” Then, he could start singing the hypnotizing “I am the Angel of Music” section. It has always bothered me that he simultaneously refers to himself and Christine as the Angel of Music. Which one of them is the angel? Instead, he should just sing, “I am the Phantom of the Opera. Come to the Phantom of the Opera.” She should look frightened but also entranced as the mirror opens. As he sings this cadence, her eyes get glassy, and she is hypnotized.

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During the theme song, the beat is as heavy as the fog which makes the onstage lake.

When the theme song begins, a heavy rock and roll beat begins. As opposed to the rest of the score, which has an older style, this song is heavy metal, complete with electric guitars and a driving beat. Complete with the strange lyrics about the Phantom being inside her mind, this song has a very sadistic quality. The rock beat must be removed for historical accuracy as well as self-regulation. The arrangement may include organ, but there must be no rock and roll instrumentation. It should be more like the reprise of this song which Christine sings after the Don Juan rehearsal. You can hear the original cast recording rendition of this song below. It is orchestral and, frankly, more mysterious.

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Colm Wilkinson and Rebecca Caine in Toronto.

Some changes need to be made to the lyrics of the theme song, for some artistic reasons as well as breening ones. This song had some different lyrics in an original music video with Sarah Brightman and Steve Harley which was made before the play was produced. Some of these lyrics are more acceptable than ones in the complete production. You can see the music video below.

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Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman during the theme song.

The main unacceptable point in this song’s lyric is “The Phantom of the Opera is there inside my mind.” It is too Svengali-like and makes it seem like he is possessing and manipulating the innocent, trusting Christine. Instead, it should be replaced with a lyric which is used twice in the original music video, “The Phantom of the Opera is now my mastermind.” Christine should sing the whole song as if she is in a trance, which explains the odd lyrics. I have compiled the new lyrics, incorporating the music video’s with the existing ones and adding a few of my own. My original lyrics are italicized.

Christine:

Beneath the opera house, / I know he’s there. / He’s with me on the stage. / He’s everywhere. / And when my song begins, / I always find / The Phantom of the Opera is now / My Mastermind.

Phantom:

Since once again with me / Our strange duet. / My ardent love for you / Grows stronger yet. / You’ll give your love to me, / For love is blind. / The Phantom of the Opera is now / Your mastermind.

Christine:

Those who have seen your face / Draw back in fear. / I am the mask you wear. /

Phantom:

It’s me they hear.

Christine and Phantom:

Your/my music and my/your voice / In one combined. / The Phantom of the Opera is now / My/Your mastermind.

Christine and Phantom:

Since once again with me / Our strange duet. / My ardent love for you / Grows stronger yet. / I’ll/You’ll give your love to you/me, / For love is blind. / The Phantom of the Opera is now / My/Your mastermind.

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Sierra Boggess singing the theme song on Broadway.

Then, during the part where Christine sings her extreme high notes, the Phantom says, “Sing, my angel of music,” “Sing,” and “Sing for me!” Sometimes this sounds like he is just entreating her rapturously, but, more often than not, it sounds like he is sadistically forcing her to shriek absurdly high notes, screaming at her to sing when she has been doing just that for three minutes! We are adding the element that she is in a trance, so that accounts for the necessity of his continual entreaties for her to sing. However, he must not yell. He should just say it in a mysterious, mesmerizing voice. When Christine sings her final note, the high E, she should awaken from her trance.

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Some things didn’t transfer well to the screen in the 2004 film.

Since we aren’t on the stage, and no set transfer is necessary; the candelabras should be on dry land. There is no reason for them to rise up out of a dry-ice lake.

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Norm Lewis as the Phantom on Broadway.

The Phantom’s lair is acceptable on the stage. It would need more development in a film. It should clearly look like a music room, complete with an organ, music box, and candelabras. No bed should be in evidence. Also, there should be no nude statues or carvings, as there sometimes are in his lair.

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Derrick Davis and Eva Tavares in the new production of 2019.

A little conversation here would do a world of good in terms of story development and the progression of their relationship. Similarly to the 1943 film, this play doesn’t give Christine and Erik any time to talk and bond. They are together for quite a while, but they just sing. Five minutes of dialogue would be a big help. This conversation would replace the Phantom’s “I Have Brought You” song.

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Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman in the original London production.

That brings us to Music of the Night. This is one of the most iconic parts of this play, but it is also one of the most troublesome from a breening standpoint. The lyrics are a strange incantation about darkness, powers, and sensations which seems to be talking about much more than music. It is a cross between a haunting lullaby and a mesmerizing chant. Like the theme song, this song had different lyrics in an early music video with Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman. These lyrics seem to be talking more about music than romance. You can watch this video below.

Let’s combine the current lyrics with the original ones and add a few of my own to create an acceptable version of this song. My new lyrics are in italics.

Nighttime falls, and shadows are appearing. / Darkness stirs and concentrates your hearing. / Hearing is believing. Music is deceiving. / Hard as lightning, soft as candelight. / Dare you trust the music of the night.

Slowly, gently, night unfurls its splendor. /
Grasp it, sense it, tremulous and tender. /
Turn your face away from the garish light of day. /
Turn your thoughts away from cold, unfeeling light
And listen to the music of the night.

Close your eyes, for your eyes will only tell the truth, / And the truth isn’t what you want to see. / In the dark, it is easy to pretend / That the truth is what it ought to be.

Softly, deftly, music shall surround you. /
Feel it, hear it closing in around you. /
Open up your mind; let your fantasies unwind /
Through the magic which you know you cannot fight,
The magic of the music of the night.

Let your mind start a journey to a strange new world. /
Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before. /
Close your eyes, and let music set you free. /
Let my notes take you where you long to be.

Floating, falling, sweet imagination. / Trust me. Tell me with your own narration. / Here you stand before me, ready to adore me, / Helpless to resist the notes I write, / For I compose the music of the night.

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At last we’ve found the origins of the famous Phantom pose!

The other problem is the staging of this number. The Phantom has his hands on Christine too much. The famous pose of the Phantom putting his arm around Christine’s neck while she leans back against him is suggestive as well as creepy. Quite frankly, it seems closer to something Bela Lugosi did in Dracula than to anything Lon Chaney did in The Phantom of the Opera, though both of them were old Universal horror films. The 2004 removed this, instead opting to have him run his hands over her torso, which was even worse. The Phantom should not touch Christine during this song. He should simply stand and sing. He could take some of the staging from the music video, such as sifting through sheet music and playing the organ to accompany himself. However, he must not put his hands all over Christine’s person. He may take her hand at the end of the last verse to lead her over to see the mannequin of herself.

When Christine wakes up after having fainted, she sings about her vague memories. This part doesn’t make much sense. Her “I remember” song should be removed. Instead, she should just rub her head and look around. She could whisper something about the Phantom of the Opera to herself, but then she should get up and walk over to the Phantom.

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Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess in the 25th anniversary performance.

When Christine pulls off the Phantom’s mask, he goes berserk and starts hurling vicious, angry curses at her. There is considerable profanity half-sung, half-screamed during this bombastic little song. Instead of just removing the profanity, I am going to remove this whole section. This is no time to be singing! Instead, he should yell something like the following, which is a combination of the lyrics and a passage from the original novel: “Curse you, you little prying Pandora! Look! Is this what you wanted to see? Well, see me! Look at Erik’s face! Now you know the face of the voice! You weren’t content to hear me, were you? You wanted to know what I look like! Well, are you satisfied?” Then he should go into “Stranger than you dreamt it.”

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Gerard Butler unmasked in the 2004 film.

In “Stranger than you dreamt it,” the Phantom sings the lyric, “this loathsome gargoyle who burns in hell, etc.” The italicized word is usually forbidden under the Code. It should be replaced with fire.

After Christine gives the Phantom back his mask, there should be a brief conversation there. It doesn’t have to be much. It would be enough just for her to say, “Erik, I’m sorry.” Then, he could proceed to say they must return.

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Joseph Buquet in a stage production.

When Joseph Buquet tells the ballerinas about the Phantom, he shouldn’t sing. He should just say his description. The lines should be changed slightly so that they don’t sound like spoken lyrics.

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Andre (Simon Callow) and Firmin (Ciaran Hinds) receiving notes in the 2004 movie.

During “Notes,” there are several instances of profanity. The line “To – with Gluck and Handel” should be changed to “Who cares for Gluck and Handel?” Then, Andre says Damnable twice; both times it should be changed to Terrible. Later, in reference to the notes, the managers sing, “They are both signed O. G. Who the – is he?” Instead, they should say, “Who on earth is he?” Later in this scene, Carlotta refers to Raoul as Christine’s lover. Instead, she should say, “The Vicomte, her sweetheart!” Later, when Carlotta is carrying on in Italian, the word Dio, which is Italian for God and thus profane, should be replaced with rio, which means bitter.

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The end of “Prima Donna” onstage.

In the song which ensues, “Prima Donna,” more problems are to be found. For most of the song, three or more people are singing different melodies and lyrics at the same time. It blends quite nicely, but it can be hard to hear. Because of this, one can miss the objectionable lyrics. Among them is Madame Giry’s line, “This miscasting will invite damnation.” The italicized word should be replaced with disaster. One lyric which always comes through clearly is sung by the managers. They refer to Christine as “a chorus girl who’s gone and slept with the patron.” This highly unacceptable line should be replaced with “a chorus girl who has entranced our new patron.”

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Il Muto in a stage production.

The opera which is performed in the next scene is Il Muto, an obvious spoof on Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. The scene which takes place during the action is between the Countess and Seraphimo, a mute page boy who is currently disguised as a maid. This scene is highly suggestive. It adds an adulterous flavor which isn’t even in the rather risque Mozart opera. In the opera, Cherubino, the page boy who is far from mute, is in love with the married countess, but she only loves her husband. In Webber’s take, the Countess is very interested in her cheeky page. “This is unacceptable. Do you hear me?!” (In case you didn’t recognize it, this is a line from Love Never Dies, the unpopular sequel to this famous musical).

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Maria Kesselman as Christine playing Seraphimo.

Firstly, this scene must not take place in a bedroom. It should be in the Countess’s sitting room. The idea of flirtation outside of marriage is acceptable in this case, I suppose, if handled properly. The scene begins with three singers explaining the situation. The first lyric is , “They say that this youth has set my lady’s heart aflame.” That sounds like she is interested in a man other than her husband. This should be changed to, “They say that my lady’s set the page’s heart aflame.” One of the other lyrics is, “Should he suspect her, God protect her.” The italicized word should be replaced with Heav’n. Also, her should be replaced with him, since the page is the one who would really be in danger from the Count. Then they sing, “This shameless lady’s bound for Hades.” This line should be deleted. They should proceed immediately to singing, “Shame, shame, shame!” As the Count enters, Seraphimo begins dusting. Mind you, this role is played by Christine. She pointedly shakes her posterior as she dusts. This action must be eliminated, as must the Count’s spoken line, “Though I would gladly take the maid with me.” Similarly, the Countess’s aside, “The old fool is leaving,” should be removed. To make the Countess more innocent, it should seem like Seraphimo was deceiving the Countess as well as the Count with his disguise. The Countess should be surprised when Seraphimo runs over and tosses off the female disguise, since she thought that the new maid really was a girl! Her following lyric is, “Seraphimo, away with this pretense! You cannot speak, but kiss me in my husband’s absence.” This is too suggestive. Instead, Seraphimo should try to kiss her on the cheek, and she should reply in song, “Seraphimo, what is this pretense? Though you can’t speak, you kiss me in my husband’s absence!” This makes it sound like she is surprised and displeased by his actions. Then, keeping him at a distance, she could proceed to sing, “Poor Fool” as before.

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“This is unacceptable. Do you hear me?!” I didn’t use that joke before, did I?

In this scene, it must be ensured that Carlotta and the other women wear necklines which are high enough.

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The Il Muto ballet sequence on the stage, 2019.

In the ballet sequence which follows, the ballerinas are wearing costumes with necklines which tend to be too low. Their necklines must be at a decent height.

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The shepherd and a ballerina in Il Muto.

The same danseur whom we saw earlier as the slave master appears in this ballet sequence as a shepherd. This character can have an effeminate flavor. He doesn’t in this particular recording, but he does in the 25th anniversary show when played by Sergei Polunin. Care should be taken to ensure that this character doesn’t seem anything less than masculine.

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Even in the 1925 film, Buquet (Gibson Gowland) had a big mouth and paid for it.

This ballet sequence is interrupted by the corpse of Joseph Buquet being dropped down from the rafters. His body hangs there by the neck, sending the scene into chaos. This is too grotesque and violent. Instead of hanging, the body should quickly fall from the rafters to the stage. The camera should not focus on the body. More emphasis should be put on the reaction of the people onstage.

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Christine and Raoul on the rooftop onstage.

In the next scene, Christine and Raoul go to the rooftop, where they sing “All I Ask of You.” Near the end of this song, there is a musical interlude, and they kiss. You can’t see it very clearly in the recording I am following, but even that one shows that their two kisses, particularly the second one, are excessive, lustful, and prolonged. The 25th anniversary recording with Sierra Boggess and Hadley Fraser is clearer, so it is easier to see the unacceptable kissing. The 2004 film’s kissing in this scene is positively the most nauseating kissing I have ever seen. In a Code film version, the kissing must be close-mouthed, restrained, and not excessive, following the Code kissing guidelines which were standard.

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Hadley Fraser and Sierra Boggess after kissing at the 25th anniversary show.

In the next section, Christine sings that she must go, and they make plans for the future, all to the melody of “All I Ask of You.” Instead of singing this, there should be dialogue here to express this interaction.

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The managers in their sinister costumes.

At the Masquerade, the managers are dressed as skeletons. This is too grotesque. They should choose some less macabre disguises.

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The Masquerade onstage.

There are people of various and varied costumes at the masquerade. Some of them include women with low necklines. Even in the grainy video I am watching, I can see a few. All the costumes should have necklines which are high enough and skirts which are not too short. I believe that, like in the 1925 film, some of the costumes at this party look more modern than the time period in which the film is set. Everything should be pre-late Victorian Era.

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Christine at the Masquerade.

Christine is one of the women with a low neckline. Her dress is fine other than that.

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“Masquerade” at the 25th anniversary performance.

The song “Masquerade” follows. One of the lyrics is, “Thigh of blue.” The italicized word should be replaced with coat. A later lyric is, “Leering satyrs. Peering eyes.” This should be replaced with “Growing envy. Glowing eyes.”

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Half-man, half-woman dancer in “Masquerade.”

During the musical sequence, one dancer takes the foreground with the rest. I believe that this is the same danseur who played the slave master and the shepherd. Now, he is dressed in a strange costume which is half-man, half-woman. He is wearing a coat and trousers on one side and a decorative bodice and skirt on the other. His mask has more decorations on one side than the other. He is wearing a top hat which has ruffles and lace on only one side. The ensemble is completed by a black cape with lining which is red on one side and gold on the other. In all, the costume looks more male than female. In the video, I couldn’t tell that he was supposed to be half-male, half-female. Because of the blurry quality, I thought he was just wearing strange pants. It also helps that the gentleman playing the role is very tall. However, the concept itself is unacceptable. This character could be sort of a pied piper. Instead of being comprised of two genders, he should be wearing two colors, split down the middle, with a top hat and cape.

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The Phantom as the Red Death at the Masquerade.

The Phantom comes to the Masquerade dressed as the Red Death, and his costume is complete by a death’s head. This costume is directly based on Lon Chaney’s costume in the color Masquerade sequence in the 1925 film. However, the skull is more grotesque in the play. In fact, it is unacceptably grotesque. His skull should look more like the 1925 one, which is more like a real skull.

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The Phantom is back at last!

It’s hard to believe that the Phantom has left the opera and Christine alone for six whole months. It is equally hard to believe that, in all that time, Christine and Raoul have just gotten engaged. The lyrics which mention six months should be changed to six weeks.

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Madame Giry, one of the most mysterious characters.

It wasn’t until I saw this particular recording that I realized there is a conversation between Raoul and Madame Giry after the Masquerade. This adds a lot to the story, because Madame Giry explains something about the Phantom’s background. Also, it is almost entirely spoken. However, there is a little singing. That should be replaced with speaking. This scene might be lengthened just a bit. This would be a good opportunity to find out more about Madame Giry. How did she end up being the Phantom’s only ally? Whatever happened to Monsieur Giry? These are interesting questions which could be explored further in this scene.

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Hadley Fraser as Raoul with Liz Robertson as Madame Giry at the 25th anniversary performance.

When Madame Giry tells Raoul about how she met the Phantom and refers to his having been deformed from birth, Raoul says, “Oh my God, Christine.” He is obviously worried about Christine’s interaction with this man, so he is addressing her even though she isn’t present. The italicized word in this exclamation should be replaced with word.

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A manager separates the two soprani in “Notes Reprise.”

The next scene takes place in the managers’ office. The managers are reading notes from the Phantom, in which he describes how his opera, “Don Juan Triumphant,” is to be performed. Everyone wears period street clothes in this production. Both Carlotta and Christine wear Victorian dresses with necklines which are far lower than anything which would have been worn in the Victorian Era. Their necklines need to be raised.

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Raoul and Christine in the managers’ office.

After the Phantom’s note is read in song by Madame Giry and the Phantom’s overdubbed voice, Raoul sings, “We have all been blind, etc.” I think that it is alright for everything to be sung up to this point. However, there comes a point when there is just too much singing. I think that this is the point for this scene. Raoul and the managers should speak dialogue which expresses the same meaning. The singing can begin again when Madame Giry says, “Madness!”

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Carlotta and Piangi in the managers’ office.

In the song which follows, Carlotta and Piangi, now Pierson, sing, “Gran Dio!” Instead, she should sing, “Mamma mia!” and he should sing or say, “Ach, du liebe!”

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Hadley Fraser and Sierra Boggess at the 25th anniversary show.

After the multiple characters sing at the same time, Christine sings alone, beginning, “Raoul, I’m frightened.” Instead of singing, she should speak dialogue which expresses her meaning. She can go back into singing at “What I once used to dream.” Instead of singing, “You said yourself, etc.” Raoul should just speak dialogue along those lines. At “Twisted Every Way,” Christine should start singing. There will be singing until the end of the scene.

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Sierra Boggess is “Twisted Every Way” at the 25th anniversary performance.

In “Twisted Every Way,” Christine sings, “Oh, God, if I agree.” This line is an unacceptably irreverent usage of God. The italicized word should be replaced with dear.

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A rehearsal for Don Juan Triumphant on the stage.

In the next scene, we see a rehearsal for Don Juan Triumphant. The chorus sings the following lyrics: “Poor young maiden! For the thrill / On your tongue of stolen sweets / You will have to pay the bill / Tangled in the winding sheets!” These lyrics are completely unacceptable. Four new phrases will need to be written.

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Christine and Meg onstage.

On the stage, this rehearsal goes directly into Christine’s solo reprise of the theme song, which leads into a “Little Lotte” section and then into “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again.” We assume that she felt the need to visit her father’s grave because she is confused and misses him all the more because of this. Instead of going right into this little reprise and leaving Christine alone on the dark stage, the scene should fade out after the rehearsal. Then, we should see Christine alone in the rehearsal after everyone else has left. She is just sitting at the piano, looking at the sheet music. Then, Meg should come in, concerned about her friend. Christine could tell Meg about how confused and tormented she is by performing in this opera. Whenever she sings this music, she hears the Phantom. Sometimes, she thinks she really hears him, but she can’t tell if she is just imagining it. Meg tells her to think of her joyful times singing, but that makes Christine murmur, “The Angel of Music.” Then, she could go into the reprise. This would be the perfect opportunity to use the first verse, which I cut out of the theme song. Meg can join Christine in this song, which would make a nice duet. It can be slower and just accompanied by violin. After all, we have to give Jane Powell more of a chance to sing. Let’s consider some lyrics that could be used in this reprise.  

Christine:

In sleep he sang to me. / In dreams he came, / That voice which calls to me / And speaks my name. / And do I dream again? / For now I find / The Phantom of the Opera is there, / Inside my mind.

Meg:

Beneath the opera house,

Christine: 

I know he’s there. / He’s with me on the stage.

Meg:

He’s everywhere.

Christine and Meg:

And when his song begins, / I always find, / The Phantom of the Opera is there,

Christine:

Inside my mind.

Meg:

Those who have seen his face / Draw back in fear.

Christine:

Although it’s me you see, / It’s him you hear. / His spirit and my voice / Are now combined.

Christine and Meg:

The Phantom of the Opera is there,

Christine:

Inside my mind.

Meg:

He’s there, / The Phantom of the Opera.

Christine and Meg:

He’s there, / The Phantom of the Opera.

Meg:

In all your fantasies, / You always sought / A muse to guide your voice.

Christine:

Not what I got.

Christine and Meg:

Now in labyrinth, / Where night is blind, / The Phantom of the Opera is there,

Christine:

Inside my mind.

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Meghan Picerno as Christine in the new World Tour.

After the song has ended, Christine should express to Meg that she wished her father were here to guide her. Then, she could say that she has decided to go to visit her father’s grave. She would rush out. Then, the scene would transfer to her in the graveyard, wearing a cloak and singing the Little Lotte section, going into “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again.”

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The Phantom appears to Christine at her father’s grave onstage.

In “Wandering Child,” the Phantom hypnotizes Christine again, playing on her Angel of Music belief. She becomes increasingly mesmerized as the song progresses. It ends with his intoning, “I am your Angel of Music. Come to me, Angel of Music.” Again, there is too much confusion as to who is the Angel of Music. At this point, I think he should say that he is the Angel of Music, since that is the best way to gain back the bewildered Christine’s trust. He should sing, “I am your Angel of Music. Come to the Angel of Music.”

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Christine is torn between the Raoul’s logic and the Phantom’s mesmerism in the graveyard.

After the Phantom begins luring Christine with his call to “Come to the Angel of Music,” Raoul always bursts in, one way or another. In the original cast recording, he has been chiming in for quite awhile, singing to himself as he watches what happens. Then, he sings, “Angel of darkness, cease this torment.” As the Phantom continues calling to Christine, Raoul spoke to entreat her to listen to him, telling her that “this man, this thing is not your father.” All the while, the Phantom keeps singing his “Angel of Music” cadence. Eventually, Raoul breaks her out of her trance, and the fighting section begins. In the edited Broadway version, which is in the recording I am following, Raoul doesn’t join in until the “Angel of Music” chant, at which point he sings, “Leave her! You have no claim on her, etc.” Most phans agree that this new version is not as good, and the original form was restored to the London production and used at the 25th anniversary. I agree that the original was better, so I will say that we will use that version. The only change I will make is that I think Raoul should say rather than sing, “Angel of darkness, etc.”

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Gerard Butler as the Phantom and Patrick Wilson as Raoul face off in the cemetery in the 2004 film.

I made my job harder by restoring Raoul’s part in “Wandering Child,” since some of his lyrics need to be breened. However, it is worth it, since the 2004 movie showed us how anticlimactic it is for Raoul to appear just before he says his line. Firstly, Raoul refers to the Phantom as “Angel or demon?” For Raoul to call him a demon emphasizes the evil of this character. Yes, he has done some wicked things, but the audience is bound to sympathize with him anyway. We don’t want the audience sympathizing with a demon. The word demon should be replaced with phantom. Later, he refers to him as “Angel or dark seducer?” The word seducer is too pointedly suggestive in this case. It should be replaced with the word entrancer.

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The opening of Don Juan Triumphant onstage.

Now we reach one of the hardest parts of this work, the Don Juan Triumphant opera sequence. The Don Juan story itself is inherently troublesome, since it is the story of a wealthy libertine who devotes his life to seducing women, often by using disguises and false identities, and pride himself on being able to seduce any female. This old Spanish story is imbued with a strong moral message against promiscuity in most versions, so it is not completely against the Code. The important thing is that there is not excessive suggestion. This fictional opera is loosely based on Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Don Juan as the topic of this story was chosen because Don Juan Triumphant is the name of the Phantom’s organ composition in the original novel. Thus, the writers of this play cleverly chose to make this the title and topic of the Phantom’s opera. However, the handling of this opera, from the opening chorus to the duet “The Point of No Return,” is just about as unacceptable as a nineteenth century opera could be depicted. The handling is not only too salacious for the Breen Era; it is too salacious for the Victorian Era, as well. Let’s see what we can do to make this opera acceptable enough to avoid a police raid of the Paris Opera!

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Don Juan Triumphant at the 25th anniversary performance.

In the opening chorus, the chorus sings the following lyrics: “Here the sire may serve the dam. / Here the master takes his meat! / Here the sacrificial lamb / Utters one despairing bleat! ” The lines about the sacrificial lamb see to be referring to one of Don Juan’s conquests rather than an actual lamb. The first two lines are acceptable. The third and fourth should be replaced with something like the following: “Here the nicely roasted lamb / Joins the feast that we shall eat!” This makes the lyrics sound like they are just about food. Then, they sing the four lines which were rehearsed earlier. These lines will have to be changed as before. Then, the chorus proceeds to sing the following: “Serve the meal and serve the maid! / Serve the master so that, when / Tables, plans and maids are laid, / Don Juan triumphs once again!” These lines are totally unacceptable. They should be changed to something else about the servants’ feasting.

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The Don Juan Triumphant scene from a production in Manila.

It should be ensured that all the women in this chorus are wearing necklines which are high enough.

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Meg as the gypsy dancer with Piangi as Don Juan.

After the chorus sings, Meg as a gypsy dancer pops from between the curtains at back. She laughs wildly as she skips across the stage. Then, Don Juan (Piangi/Pierson) appears from behind the same curtains. He tosses a bag of coins to her, and she runs off with them, cackling. This is very suggestive. If the gypsy girl remains, Don Juan should just walk on with her, arm and arm. She should smile admiringly at him, and then he could pat her on the cheek and send her offstage. She should wave shyly. Her laughing is unacceptable, as is the tossing of the coins. It should be ensured that she wears a high enough neckline.

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Christian Sebek as Don Juan and Jeremy Stolle as Passarino in Don Juan Triumphant on Broadway in 2012.

In the opera, Don Juan and his servant, Passarino, conspire together to convince young Aminta, played by Christine, that Don Juan is the servant. A similar situation happens in Don Giovanni, as the Don and his servant, Leporello, exchange cloaks and identities for awhile. The situation is acceptable if it is clear that the deception is being used for flirtation, not seduction. The Don may seem flirtatious and even mildly caddish, but he mustn’t be so downright licentious. To achieve this purpose, some of the lines between the two men must be changed. Here is the exchange in its current, unacceptable form:

Don Juan:

Passarino, faithful friend, /
Once again, recite the plan.

Passarino:

Your young guest believes I’m you,
I, the master; you, the man.

Don Juan:

When you met, you wore my cloak. /
She could not have seen your face. /
She believes she dines with me /
In her master’s borrowed place!                                                                                        Furtively, we’ll scoff and quaff, /                                                                                     Stealing what, in truth, is mine. /                                                                                        When it’s late and modesty /                                                                                                Starts to mellow, with the wine.

Passarino:                                                                                                                           I come home! I use your voice. /
Slam the door like crack of doom!

Don Juan:                                                                                                                                        I shall cry, “Come, hide with me! /
Where, oh, where? Of course—my room!”

Passarino:

Poor thing hasn’t got a chance!

Don Juan:

Here’s my hat, my cloak and sword. /
Conquest is assured /
If I do not forget myself and laugh.

Here is my breened version, with my new lyrics in italics.

Don Juan:

Passarino, faithful friend, /
Once again, recite the plan.

Passarino:

Your young guest believes I’m you,
I, the master; you, the man.

Don Juan:

When you met, you wore my cloak. /
She could not have seen your face. /
She believes she dines with me /
In her master’s borrowed place!                                                                                               Furtively, we’ll scoff and quaff, /                                                                                     Stealing what, in truth, is mine. /                                                                                        When it’s late and we are done                                                                                        With our feast of food and wine.

Passarino:                                                                                                                           I come home! I use your voice. /
Stomping down the steps too soon!

Don Juan:                                                                                                                                        I shall cry, “Come, hide with me! /
Where? Outside, beneath the moon!”

Passarino:

This is a sure plan for romance!

Don Juan:

Here’s my hat, my cloak and sword. /
Kisses are assured /
If I do not forget myself and laugh.

Maybe that isn’t brilliant, but it’s just an idea of what could be done.

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Sierra Boggess as Christine playing Aminta at the 25th anniversary show.

Now, we come to “The Point of No Return,” quite literally in this case. Aminta, played by Christine, comes cheerfully in. She is wearing a peach dress with a low neckline. This neckline also must be raised. Also, this skirt reaches just below her knees. This is quite ridiculous, since she is supposed to be a woman from some time around the Renaissance Era, when all skirts were floor-length. Her skirt should reach at least to her ankles. Aminta’s manner is rather immodest in this scene. She tromps in, hardly like a lady, and sits on the bench like a barmaid. She actually steps over the bench, in her skirt, and then steps back, plopping down and spreading her legs wide. She proceeds to polish an apple on her bodice before she prepares to eat it. Aminta should not act like such a tramp, since that feeds into the idea that this character came here with immoral purposes. She should walk in like a lady, taking delicate steps. She must not step over the bench. She may daintily take an apple, but she should not polish it on her skirt or her bodice. She must sit decorously with her legs together. This is necessary to make this character seem like a nice maiden instead of a wanton woman.

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Christine as Aminta as the Phantom leads both her and her character to “The Point of No Return”

After Aminta’s entrance, Piangi has gone off. No one realizes that he has been killed and replaced by the Phantom, who now is playing Don Juan. Passarino calls out, “Master?” The Phantom as Don Juan replies in song, “Passarino—go away! / For the trap is set and waits for its prey.” Referring to the plan as a trap and to Aminta as prey is highly suggestive. Instead, the italicized part of the line should be replaced with, “The plan has been set and is now underway.” Don Juan then sings aloud to Aminta:

You have come here /                                                                                                                 In pursuit of your deepest urge, /
In pursuit of that wish which till now has been silent, /
Silent. /
I have brought you /
That our passions may fuse and merge. /
In your mind, you’ve already succumbed to me, /
Dropped all defenses, completely succumbed to me. /
Now you are here with me. /
No second thoughts, you’ve decided, /
Decided.

These lyrics need some major revision. Let’s give a sample of how they could be improved. I have incorporated some lyrics from the “I Have Brought You” cadence the Phantom sings when he first brings Christine into his lair. I cut that out of the film for artistic reasons, but it is the same melody. With slight revision, some of those lyrics can be reused here.

You have come here /                                                                                                                 In pursuit of a sweet romance, /
In pursuit of that wish which till now has been silent, /
Silent. /
I have brought you, /                                                                                                             Since you snared with me one sweet glance. /
Since the moment I first saw you smile, /
I have needed you with me to serve me, to speak to me. /
Now you are here with me. /
No second thoughts, you’ve decided, /
Decided.

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If the filmmakers tried to put the unedited lyrics of this song in a movie, they would be “Past the Point of No Return.”

Then, he goes into The Point of No Return. The basic concept of this song is unacceptable, but it could be altered to shift the focus onto something else. Rather than the whole point of the song being the beginning of an illicit affair, this song could mean that they now have to love each other. They can’t deny their true feelings anymore. Below are the revised lyrics for this song. My new lyrics are italicized.

Phantom:

Past the point of no return, /
No backward glances. /
The time for telling lies is at an end. /
Past all thought of “if” or “but,” /
No use resisting. /
Abandon thought and let the dream descend.

What tender thoughts shall flood the soul? /
What fervent trust might be in store? /
What perfect love might lie before us? /

Past the point of no return, /
Let’s make a promise /
That here we have a love we shall not spurn, /
Beyond the point of no return.

Christine:

You have brought me /
To that moment when words run dry, /
To that moment when speech disappears /
Into silence, /
Silence.

I have come here, /
Hardly knowing the reason why. /
In my mind I’ve already imagined /
I’ll be here beside you, /
To serve you, to speak to you. /
Now I am here with you. /
No second thoughts, /
I’ve decided, /
Decided.

Past the point of no return, /
No going back now. /
Our destiny has now, at last, begun. /
Past all thought of yes or no
One final question,
How long have we to wait, before we’re one?
When will the bells begin to ring?
The angel choir begin to sing?
When will the wedding bands combine us?

Christine and the Phantom:

Past the point of no return, /
The final threshold. /
So carry me across I’ll carry you across
My/Your love to earn/
We’ve passed the point of no return.

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Sierra Boggess as Aminta with Ramin Karimloo, looking more like a Sith lord than a Phantom or a Spanish don, at the 25th anniversary show.

In addition to the lyric changes, this song needs some revision in terms of staging. The Phantom puts his hands all over Christine in many staging of this number. I won’t even mention the infernal rendition in the movie. He should not put his hands all over her neck, shoulders, arms, and torso, nor should he put them on any other part of her body. Even more importantly, she shouldn’t have that ecstatic look on her face. Sierra Boggess is particularly indecent in this scene. She simply won’t close her mouth! Aminta should look nervous or even frightened at the Don’s advances, but he should never touch her more than just clasping her hands or laying one hand on her shoulder. Whenever he does this, she should move away. Also, there should not be a bed anywhere in evidence in this scene, not even behind the curtain, which is later pulled back.

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Meg in Don Juan Triumphant.

Eventually, Christine pulls the Phantom’s mask off, and he whisks her offstage. Meg pulls back a curtain and reveals Piangi’s body. His body is propped up against a bed. She screams. His corpse should not be shown. Instead, we should just see Meg’s horrified expression as she screams, “Mr. Pierson is dead!”

When he sees what has transpired, Andre yells, “Oh, my God! My God!” Instead, he should say something like, “Oh, no! Good heavens!”

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The Phantom drags Christine “Down once more.”

As the Phantom spirits Christine to his lair, he sings the lyric, “Down that path into darkness, deep as hell!” The italicized word should be replaced with night.

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Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess go “Down once more” at the 25th anniversary show.

The next section the Phantom sings, “Why you ask, etc.” should be eliminated. It doesn’t make much sense. Instead, he should say some lines about the way the world has shunned him because of his deformity. The mob can still sing their chant about tracking down the murderer. 

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Only Madame Giry knows why one must keep the hand at the level of his eyes.

When Madame Giry and Raoul are making their way along, they meet the Rat Catcher. A few lines explaining this interesting character from the novel would be nice. Also, his only line in the book, “Let me pass with my rats!” would give this character some identity. As Madame Giry reminds Raoul to keep his hand at the level of his eye, they should speak rather than sing this exchange. A little further explanation about this protecting them from the Punjab lasso would be helpful here.

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No self-respecting Phantom allows himself to remain unmasked as long as Ramin Karimloo did at the 25th anniversary show.

It is grotesque for the Phantom to rush about without his mask for such a long time. It is necessary for him to look bad for the story to be convincing, yet it is disturbing to see him unmasked for too long. He should snatch his mask up before he and Christine rush offstage. Then, he should be wearing it again during this part. It can be removed again later at a climactic moment. 

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The Phantom and Christine in the finale lair scene with the undressed mannequin in the background.

When the Phantom and Christine are in his lair, the undressed mannequin from which he took the wedding dress is crumpled on his throne. It looks rather distasteful in such a state. The mannequin should not be visible.

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Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum in the finale lair scene from the 2004 film.

Christine and the Phantom exchange several lines of singing, starting with Christine’s line, “Have you gorged yourself, at last, in your lust for blood?” These lines deal too much with blood, lust, and “the joys of the flesh.” They should all be removed, through the Phantom’s line, “the infection which poisons our love.” Instead, they should have some dialogue along similar lines but without these unacceptable elements. Christine should mostly reproach him for his violence, and he should blame his fate for his murderous tendencies.

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Ramin Karimloo covers his deformity at the 25th anniversary performance.

The Phantom should start singing at “This face, which earned, etc.” After he sings “Turn around and face your fate,” he should tear off the mask, leaving on the wig. Then, he can turn Christine to look at him when he sings, “An eternity of this before your eyes!” 

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In the 2004 film, Patrick Wilson’s Raoul enters the lair, late and dripping.

Raoul soon arrives. The Phantom sings, “Wait, my dear, etc.” Instead, he should speak lines along the same premise. He, Raoul, and Christine should all speak rather than speak through the Phantom’s line, “Be my guest, sir.” Then, the Phantom should start to sing at “Monsieur, I bid you welcome.”

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Hadley Fraser’s Raoul is left hanging as Christine and the Phantom kiss at the 25th anniversary performance.

The Phantom then sneaks up behind Raoul and catches him around the neck with the Punjab lasso. He doesn’t kill him, however. He just leaves him hanging there, suspended from his neck. This is too gruesome.

Steve Barton and Sarah Brightman in the original production

Instead, the Phantom should tie up his hands with the Punjab lasso and tie him to the gate, perhaps in some sort of a prison chamber. The above picture from the original production gives the impression that Raoul is behind bars rather than hanging by the neck, although I know he is just trying to get in. This is a good idea.

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Christine and the Phantom seal their ill-fated love with a kiss.

Eventually, Christine shows the Phantom the first compassion he has seen in his life by kissing him. The concept is wonderful. However, the two kisses are often excessive, lustful, and open-mouthed. They should be restrained and filled with more compassion than lustful passion.

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Christine bids the Phantom a fond farewell at the 25th anniversary show.

We then hear the mob singing. The Phantom releases Raoul and tells him to take Christine away and leave him there. He shouldn’t sing this part. He should just say it. Also, his yelling shouldn’t get as hysterical at the end as many Phantoms’ do. When Christine comes back to return his ring, I think she should look sad and reluctant to leave. In fact, I am inclined to say that she should exit like Sierra Boggess does at the 25th anniversary, looking back at him as she begins to sing a reprise of “All I Ask of You.” This was added after the original production and even the 1993 one, no doubt because of what takes place in Love Never Dies, the ill-fated sequel. However, the audience is going to be thinking that Christine should have stayed with the Phantom one way or another, so we might as well include that angle.

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Meg does have some clothes besides the white tutu!

When Meg runs into the lair, she is wearing a strange, mannish outfit with trousers. Women never wore such pants in the Victorian Era. She should be wearing a dress, her gypsy dancer costume, or her standard white tutu.

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The Phantom at the end of the musical.

Technically, the ending allows a murderer to not be punished. However, I think that that is not entirely true. He isn’t given the death sentence, but he is far from happy at the ending. I think that his misery in being left alone while the woman he loves marries a young, handsome man is worse punishment than death.

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That concludes my breening! I hope that you liked it. I think that this would have been a very good movie. Let me know what you think! What other newer musicals do you think would have made good Code films?

     

Click the image on the left to buy a CD of the original cast recording, the image in the middle to buy the 25th anniversary HD recording on DVD, and the image on the right to buy the script at Amazon and support PEPS through the Amazon Affiliate program!

Click the above image to discover the origins of the whole Phantomania, the original 1911 novel by Gaston Leroux, for purchase on Amazon through our Affiliate program!

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Come back in October for the third year of our annual Code celebration, The Third Annual Breening Blogathon! It is running from October 11-14 in honor of Joseph I. Breen’s 131st birthday. Whether you want to breen a film, review a new Code movie, or analyze some aspect of the years when Hollywood was governed by the Code, this is your chance to write about the topics which we always cover. What are your thoughts on the Code? This is your chance to play PCA-member or pretend that you are a member of PEPS. Let’s make this our most successful blogathon yet!

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4 thoughts on “The Phantom in 49: Breening “The Phantom of the Opera” by Andrew Lloyd Webber

  1. I like your choices of actors and actresses! I’ve only seen Howard Keel in one thing, but I liked it. And Katheryn Grayson and Mario Lanza were great in That Midnight Kiss, so it would have been really great if they could have been in this how you described it!

    MovieCritic | Movies Meet Their Match

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad that you liked my choices. Howard Keel was always marvelous, and Miss Grayson and Mr. Lanza were a great team. I especially like them in their second pairing, “The Toast of New Orleans,” but they are also fabulous in “That Midnight Kiss.” Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Yours Hopefully,

      Tiffany Brannan

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Breening Thursdays | pure entertainment preservation society

  3. Pingback: It’s here! The Phantom of the Opera Blogathon! | pure entertainment preservation society

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