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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Books to Music: Phantom: The American Musical Sensation

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Look within this heart of mine, Christine. 
The very constant soul and music, of Christine.
Behind this mortal mask, this terror of a face conceals, 
the gesture and the grace of you, Christine.

A musical based on The Phantom of the Opera - no not that one.  There is a fundamental difference between the approach of this version (Maury Yeston/Arthur Kopit), compared to the Andrew Lloyd Webber version.  And I tried my best not to think of ALW when I was listening to this.  But can I just say the jaunty Overture is vastly disappointing compared to the stirringly dramatic ALW version.  Okay, I'm done now.

First things first, this is quite a good cast recording.  Surprisingly so, considering how memorable the ALW... oh wait, wasn't going to think of that version.  It's more remnisicent of the traditional musical sound (like Rodgers and Hammerstein) with perhaps a more realistic attempt to sound like a Parisian opera house.  At least there is more French and French accents in this recording.  This musical also has touches of lightness and humor in the music and lyrics which sounds a little odd to me - it seems thematically inconsistent for the source material.  The story takes liberties with the original novel, so that there is more of a focus on the characters and their stories.  Carlotta gets her own character song, and the Phantom is reunited with his father.  Weird.  The ending is still tragic, but done differently from the book and I'm not sure what Christine's real feelings are supposed to be for the Phantom.  At least I hope she did make the decision that she did not want to marry him in the show.  This musical is uneven, but overall quite lovely.

Song Spotlight: You Are Music
This is a great example of what I feel are the strengths and weaknesses in this musical - the beginning has the Phantom preparing Christine for her audition and some bland Do-Re-Mi/singing instructional verses are interrupted by the Phantom and Christine's (inner monologue?) of rather gorgeous music hinting at their fascination with each other.  In the beginning, I'm shaking my head at the lyrics, and then suddenly completely on board for the "you are music" parts.  It's so pretty, and touching when it is reprised in the end for Christine to mourn the Phantom's death.  By the way, at least that is consistent with the book - he does die in the end.

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2 comments:

  1. I had never heard of this one! I need to check it out! Though you know how much I love the ALW so comparisons are inevitable LOL

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    1. It's... different! I think it suffers from ALW comparisons, but it is fun to hear the differences!

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