A Tale of Love and Jealousy: The Phantom of the Opera

It wasn't popular for nothing.

Here's a little story I've been telling to people who have been surprised that the Phantom of the Opera was actually my favorite musical: When I was around seven, I would come home from school, play my father's tape {and much later, his CD} of broadway classics, specifically Cliff Richard's and Sarah Brightman's All I Ask of You. I would don a royal blue gown and sing on top of my lungs.

Sometime in the early 2000s, a film version was released, and there I was sobbing my eyes out as I watched Emmy Rossum and Gerald Butler give life to the characters I only knew from my own imagination as a little girl.

I knew every song by heart, even the reprise. :D

Learn to be Lonely

Think of Me  {This is my favorite song from the entire musical, aside from the requisite All I Ask of You}

I had my initial reservations of watching ---

a) I had seen the film version, what else was to see?
b) it was expensive
c) I've seen Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical last year. I certainly did not want to get the nosebleed seats, which were already breaching the 1,000 peso mark and the seats I wanted were around 5,000.

In the end, after very little hesitation and little persuasion, I gave in to my little girl memories. After all, the film, while absolutely stunning and awesome, was no match for a live, heartbreaking, tear-inducing performance by The Really Useful Company here in Manila.

A Little Background

For the uninitiated, Phantom of the Opera is about a soprano (Christine Daae) who have been yet given a break. She was finally given a break, through the careful mentoring of Erik (the Phantom), which made him fall in love with Christine. As Christine progressed to become the star of the Paris Opera House, she snags the heart of her childhood sweetheart, Raoul, which sparks the rage within the Phantom and therefore ensues trouble.

Christine, ever as conflicted about her newfound love and a mentor she felt indebted to, struggles to seek wisdom from her father who have passed. Erik, who have gone 360 with threats, deception, caging Christine in his underground hideaway just to be with his love, eventually frees Christine away, in the name of true, undying love.

Worth Every Penny

I had eye-level seats at the main orchestra, and being someone who tries to live frugally, I was a bit worried it might've been too much for it. Then I thought that if one had to spend, experience is most especially worth it. By the end of the musical, I realized I would've even paid more for the theatrical genius that unfolded before my eyes.

Every POTO watcher who has seen just the first sequence of a stage that transformed in less than a minute from ruin to its old glamour would tell you how that is already a stand out among the musicals that have ran in the CCP stage {have seen

Cats and Mamma Mia, both an understatement to the POTO production values}.

CCP had the floating candles, the candelabras and a wheeled 'boat.' I was easily reminded of Thailand's Siam Niramit and realized these was possible in the Manila! 

The Phantom of the Opera, Movie version

My thoughts in bullets:

  • There's a reason why it's expensive --- because of the classic chandelier scene, the underground lake scenes, it being an international cast --- and it was worth it.
  • Claire Lyon's rendition of Think of Me brought me to tears. And yes, that was her first song for the night.
  • Is it me or is the audio much, much better this time? I was seriously thinking there were serious levels of engineering that happened before they started to run POTO. Have been watching a number of international musicals in CCP and it has never been this good.
  • It is so fun to see so many friends at the CCP POTO run, (hello Jheng and Roxy!), especially dressed up, too. THIS is how it's supposed to be. So beautiful.
  • Christine was astounding, Raoul was very cute BUT Erik (The Phantom) gave the most chilling, undisputed best performance of the night.

Anthony Downing as Raoul

Claire Lyon as Christine Daae

Standing-ovation worthy, Jonathan Roxmouth as the Phantom.

  •  The Costumes. I kept flipping my eyes on each of their Masquerade costumes because each had every detail planned out in exquisite sparkle.
  • Phantom of the Opera is not like Rent, or Love, Loss and What I Wore, or Sweet Charity that had deep-seeded profound issues to dig. There were no quotable quotes nor wisdom to remember, heck even Lion King had more quotes in it. It was about a universal topic and that was love --- but however complicatedly executed. If you are not the literal, audible type, it might be tough to understand some of the narrative embedded through operatic notes, the sopranos and the tenors. A deep, thorough heart ache reverberates beyond the high notes and the carefully produced props and that is the human need to be loved and to be accepted as you are. The Phantom, an enigma of all forms, had displayed the ultimate act of love (as most tragic love stories have) and that is to let go. Always, always a heartbreaking thing to do.
  • While I completely love the modern world, I can't help wishing I lived at the time when opera was in fashion, where people sang songs to say what they wanted to and when true love was well, true.
  • I am so glad that Filipino theater-watchers have now learned not to text and take calls during musicals. I remember well that my seat mate in Cats took a call during the Jellicle Song and I had wanted to smack him in the head right there and then. Same for the ones who sing so loudly. 
  • I am so happy I gave in and watched this --- it affirmed why it was my favorite musical so far.

 Photo taken by my friend Tania. Outfit (of the Music) of the Night:
Pant Suit: Pink Manila
Belt: Promod
Necklace: H&M
Purse: H&M

Have you seen The Phantom of the Opera?
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*Official photos are from www.facebook.com/POTOManilaIt's not too late, the show runs till October 14 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines!