Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Muzak of the night.

So, I went to see the Phantom of the Opera last night.

No... no that's entirely misleading. I went to see The Phantom of the Opera last night. I did not meet up with the titular musical ghost, but I did see him chewing the hell out of scenery on Broadway. Paddy offered me seats I couldn't refuse: Row D in the orchestra section, for fifty bucks. And that's fifty bucks "when you get a chance," mind you, so effectively free until I get a job, unless she forgets, in which case it was just straight-up free. Hell, even fifty bucks is amazing for a Broadway show, sitting so close you could feel the heat when stuff got set on fire. And oh yeah, stuff got set on fire. This is Broadway, baby; like hell are they content to let the acting, costumes, set, writing, and music stand on its own. It's all about the special effects.

Perhaps I'm being a bit unfair, as some of the effects were spectacular. We, the audience, were greeted by a ramshackle-looking stage, with a broken chandelier sitting center, dropcloths everywhere, torn curtains hanging all higglety-pigglety. The play begins and the house is at half-light, as a creepy auctioneer takes bids on various sundries from the long-defunct Opera Populaire. As he arrives at Lot Number Six Hundred Sixty-Six (subtlety being NO FRIEND to Mr. Lloyd Webber), the broken-down chandelier itself, he explains that it has been modified to work with electric lights, as he shall now demonstrate: CRAKOW! The house lights drop and there is a flashpaper explosion as the chandelier lights, leaving the audience blinded and confused. The great mess is then pulled up to the ceiling, and while the audience is still reorienting themselves, the dropcloths are dropped, revealing gold frescoes and filigrees and ornate crap of the sort one would expect, the crappy curtains rise away and nice ones take their place, and before one's vision is even clear, one is thrown back into the heyday of the opera house. A very impressive effect, pulled off very well. Just one of many such neat moments, my personal favorite of which being the Phantom and Christine's initial descent into his lair, wherein they went down stairs on the stage floor, and immediately appeared ten feet above, walking along a descending platform, singing creepily all the while. Now, it could be the Majestic Theatre has invented teleportion, or it might just be clever application of a main character wearing a mask and all female dancers looking pretty much alike, but it made me raise my eyebrows and nod my head in appreciation all the same.

As far as the other aspects of the play go, the music was catchy and the book was melodramatic, but they all did a fine job of it and deserve cookies and praises. Yaaaay!


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