Hey guys! Remember that one time I studied in England? And saw that theatrical masterpiece, "Love Never Dies"? You don't? Let me remind you! Definitely because it's culturally enriching and not because its currently 3am and I have not written a blog post. Nope.
You can read the rest of my ridiculous Oxford blog here.
The other day, I was reading my Dietrich Bonhoeffer, you know, Saturday morning routine, when I hear that two girls from the SCIO program were going to London to catch the matinee of Phantom: Love Never Dies. This is the “sequel” to the Phantom of the Opera, but in case you are not familiar with this thematic masterpiece, here is the actual summary from the website:
“From the Gothic surrounds of the Paris Opera House to the dazzling heights of New York’s Coney Island – the Phantom returns. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s spectacular new musical reunites the masked Phantom with his only true love and musical protégée, the stunning beauty Christine Daaé. Love Never Dies is a roller-coaster ride of intrigue, obsession and romance – where little is as it first appears.
With Madame Giry’s help the Phantom escaped the Paris mobs to build a glittering new empire in the new world. For ten long years the Phantom has hidden himself amongst the freaks and sideshows nursing his broken heart and yearning for his true love to return. And now…
Blinded by money and the bright lights of Coney – Christine, with Raoul and their son Gustave, is lured to America to perform one final time. But Christine soon discovers the true identity of the mysterious impresario who has tempted her across the Atlantic. As old wounds are reopened and forgotten memories unlocked – The Phantom sets out to prove that, indeed, Love Never Dies.”
My initial reaction: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
So clearly, I had to see it. I mean, obviously. One does not get chances like this every day. Also I saw the real Phantom when I went to London two summers ago, so I had to complete the set. Also, you have to go to London to see a show. This is known as "culture," and it is good for you. And it was clearly good, as renowned theater critic Random British Guy Walking Out Of The Theater At The Same Time As Me gave a rave review, stating, and I quote “That was probably the best theater I've ever seen. Brilliant.” Which leads me to question whether he has seen any OTHER theater, because only seeing this musical is the only way I can think of making his statement technically true.
After watching said musical, I got the feeling that this was the type of musical Andrew Lloyd Weber whipped out in an afternoon, or maybe when he was drunk, because that would explain why he seems to have completely forgotten the how all his characters normally behave. But I do not regret going for one moment.
Warning: The following section contains SPOILERS. NO SERIOUSLY, I'M GOING TO GIVE EVERYTHING AWAY ABOUT THIS MUSICAL BECAUSE THE WORLD DESERVES TO KNOW.
We open ten years later on the Phantom, of course, singing about his constant love for Christine to his creepy life-size Christine doll, wanting to hear her sing one more time blah blah blah. Pretty standard Phantom stuff, right? Right.
Then we go to Coney Island and rejoin Madame Giry, Meg, and the gang with a new show where Meg is apparently the star. P.S. Madame Giry is no longer French. Then, as stated in the above teaser, in come Raoul, Christine, and their little son Gustav. But what would even lead them to America? Well, times are not so good in this little household, namely because this is not your grandmothers' Raoul. This Raoul drinks and gambles away all their money, and kicks his child's toys. You got the feeling that if there were any puppies on stage, Raoul would have kicked those too. The Phantom, meanwhile, seemed to have undergone some extensive psychoanalytic therapy, especially relating to his people skills. It's pretty easy to tell who we're supposed to be rooting for now. (Hint: Not Raoul)
And then, surprise! We find out it was (DUN DUN DUN) the Phantom who engaged her to sing in America! That rascal! Christine agrees to sing anyway, because, in a momentary return to his evil ways, the Phantom threatens to take her son if she doesn't. In the following scene between Christine and the Phantom, we discover that the Phantom and Christine had a one-night stand the night before Christine and Raoul's wedding, but the Phantom fled before Christine could confess her love, and therefore (?) she married Raoul. To which, of course, my reaction was: What? How does that even make sense? Maybe Raoul had already taken to kicking dogs at that point, and Christine knew he was no good, but decided it was better to be married to a dog-kicker then remain an old spinster? Who knows.
Some other stuff happens and then the Phantom finds out that, based solely on Gustav's musical ability and love for dark and creepy things, Gustav is not Raoul's son but the Phantom's! I mean, you can't argue with that scientific evidence.
I should note that there is an extremely touching song sung by Christine somewhere in here, which teaches us to “Just love, just live, just give what you can give.” This is good lifelong advice, friends.
This is followed by more stuff, including a scene where Raoul is drinking at a bar, asking why Christine still loves him. But SURPRISE! Turns out the bartender is the PHANTOM! And he kind of brags that he is probs Gustav's real dad. And then they make a bet: If Christine sings for the Phantom at the performance that night, Raoul must leave and go back to London. If she doesn't, Gustav, Christine, and Raoul all get to leave with all their gambling debts paid. The plot thickens.
The question then being: will she, or won't she? To even the playing field, Raoul makes a last-ditch half-hearted attempt to win his wife back, and then the Phantom sings her a full-out love song and gives her some sparkly bling. Again, its difficult to tell who we should be rooting for here. The moment arrives, and Christine (surprise) sings! What song, you ask? Why, “Love Never Dies”, which I confess I had totally forgotten was the title of the musical until that point.
After the performance, Raoul leaves her a note basically asking for a divorce, and so of course we're happy, because Christine can end up with the Phantom now! But wait! Where's Gustav?! The Phantom instantly suspects Madame Giry, who, btw, was getting frustrated that after all her years of hard work for the Phantom he's all obsessed with Christine again. But no, it's not Madame Giry... however, MEG was seen leaving with a small child!
Hence, we find Meg, with Gustav, on a bridge, singing him a creepy lil song and about to push him off. It may be crucial to note here that Meg had been growing increasingly jealous of Christine coming out of nowhere and taking her place in the show and getting all the Phantom's attention and being all-around cooler than she was. Also that Gustav can't swim.
I was laughing so hard at this point I was almost crying. I know you won't believe me, but it gets better.
Fortunately, the Phantom and Christine find them in time, so instead Meg takes out a gun, and after some whining, holds it to her own head. The Phantom, obviously, talks her down from this, as he is clearly the type of certified counselor I would want in such a situation. But I will say he is effective. Meg definitely does not shoot herself; she definitely does shoot Christine. Bummer. Dude. At this point my crying because socially acceptable, because people were actually crying.
The Phantom and Christine share some last moments of song, ironically reprising “Love Never Dies.” I would like to point out that in dying, Christine does not abide by her own life philosophy of “just love, just live, just give what you can give,” as she doesn't seem to grasp the whole “live” part.
Then Gustav and Raoul come to the scene, where, in his grief, Raoul, of course, gives custody of Gustav to the Phantom. Did we forget that the Phantom has MURDERED people? End of musical. So love never dies, but Christine does.
SOOOO excellent. That's pretty much my summary. I'm going to have to agree with Paul Taylor here:
Next week I'll write a real blog post, I swear. Probably.
Peace out homies,