Danahey On the Loose at Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom woos the ingenue in his lair. (Photo by Matthew Murphy._

So I recently went to see that musical that everyone’s been talking about – 30 years ago.
Yeah, I finally made it to “Phantom of the Opera,” which is on tour again and playing the Cadillac Palace Theatre downtown through Jan. 8.
A friend had to back out at the last minute due to a work issue, so I wound up going by myself – which is probably a good a way as any to see a play about a really lonely guy. Plus, I heard the show offered really good dating tips.
Okay, I made that last part up. I did find a piece on the Internet by typing “dating tips Phantom of the Opera” into Google. Like a good deal of Internet, it’s a just an intriguing title that leads you to a short list of mildly amusing observations.
My own mildly amusing observations are that this show relies upon people in late 19th century being really dumb and lacking in social skills and self-awareness for the plot to move forward. Wait. That makes it contemporary.
Wait. Th

The Phantom leads the ingenue to his lair. (Matthew Murphy)

at makes it like a good deal of opera set in any century.
For starters, the ingenue finds nothing unusual about taking free voice lessons from a guy in a cape and a mask who lives in a lair that you have to get to by gondola.
Sure, apparently he’s a pretty good teacher. And the price is right. But, hasn’t this woman heard of Jack the Ripper? In what time period would anyone think it would be a good idea to learn this way?
Okay. A lair along an underground river (or a sewer system, even) does seem superhero cool. But is the damp really good for your voice?
In his pitching woo through music lessons, it helps the Phantom that he has a good-sized organ and the manual dexterity to play it.
Most 80s awesome is the the Phantom’s theme song, a power ballad that uses organ chords AND electronic drums. For my money the tune is right there with the theme from “St. Elmo’s Fire” and Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” as the ultimate Velveeta from the mullet era.
What the Phantom also has going for him is a lot of nicknames – Phantom of the Opera, Angel of Music, OG. And he’s a magician, too – not the Penn & Teller kind, but one of those annoying, full of themselves David Blaine or Chris Angel ones, but not as pretty.
But despite all his Batman-like nonsense, the multi-talented man behind the mask just can’t make all the above work for him. He lets his bad habits get in the way.
His income comes from intimidation and blackmailing – from haunting an opera house, no less.
He sends notes to people, in a way similar to how some folks use Twitter these days.
He gets jealous really easily and can’t handle it when his ingenue falls for a bland handsome dude. And he murders a couple people along the way.

The Phantom of the Opera cast performs “Masquerade.” (Matthew Murphy)

He’s also written a musical for his ingenue and himself where Don Juan is triumphant. If you know your opera, Don Juan – AKA Don Giovanni – is the original date rapist. That’s not gonna win your honey’s affection.
Then the Phantom goes all kid-nappy during the opening night production of his own opera and takes his little ingenue back to the lair, and of course the jig is up, and he’s being chased, and the boyfriend shows up, and the Phantom tells his sob story.
Okay. The Phantom was tortured most of his life and labeled a freak, because, even though he’s a genius, he’s hideous to look at.
But he overcame all that with a mask, and a cape, and the blackmail and intimidation through magic and music. Once he told her, the Phantom’s sad story only made him sexier to the lady he wanted. It’s how he got his first and only kiss. Dumb ass.
Come to think of it, I think the show’s composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, learned from the mistakes of the Phantom. Lloyd Webber is no George Clooney, but he was married for a time to the show’s original ingenue, sexy Sarah Brightman.
And the Phantom and old Andy seem to have the same taste in over-the-top music, a taste which made Andy a very rich man.
So I guess there were dating tips from the show after all.

Hannibal, an opera within The Phantom of the Opera. (Matthew Murphy)