Something I Never Noticed Before about ‘The Phantom of The Opera’

14 Jun

I forgot one thing from my Tony Awards thoughts round-up: a realization I had while watching the number from ‘The Phantom of the Opera’.

First of all, I love Phantom (no really, I do – my friend Dave and I went back this year to see Sierra Boggess and both became unironically re-obsessed with the show). However, I don’t know about you guys watching at home, but from the house that number sounded as tinned as a can of SPAM. I’m sure those guys can actually really sing, but I think Dave and I could have lip-synced it and been just as convincing, considering how piped in it sounded (by the way, Dave and I are totally available to lip-sync the entire show, anytime).

BUT, that is not what I came on here to say. What I actually noticed was the lyric “and though you turn from me to glance behind”. How can she be turning from him to glance behind? He’s behind her on the boat! She’d have to sort of lean to the side and look around him to glance behind, which wouldn’t really be turning from him. So, to be accurate, the lyric would have to be “and though you crane your head to glance behind” or “and though you scooch ’round me to glance behind.”  Or, alternately, the lyric could be “and though you turn from me to glance in front,” which I suppose is much lamer.

They’ve sort of half solved it with the staging, which points the boat upstage on the lyric.  That means the boat is facing back the way they came, and she is indeed turning from him to glance behind on their journey. However, this messes up the suspension of disbelief that the Phantom is piloting the boat through many dark cavernous passageways, since if she’s indeed looking back the way they came, he definitely just piloted them in a big old circle. Which is possible – I mean, he is wearing a mask on one eye, it’s possible he has really bizarre peripheral vision and has a hard time going forward (especially with a steering device that only goes on one side of the boat, and a wide, short boat – those things are impossible to make go straight), or that he just wants to show off all the pretty candles that it probably took him forever to light.

Here, take a gander for yourself – the boaty goodness starts at about 3:10:

But hey, it could be much worse: in the movie, the Phantom sings that lyric having just put Christine on the horse that INEXPLICABLY LIVES IN THE UNDERGROUND CATACOMBS OF THE PARIS OPERA HOUSE, FULLY TACKED, AND PROCEEDS TO TAKE CHRISTINE ABOUT FORTY FEET THAT SHE COULD HAVE VERY EASILY WALKED HERSELF. So really, whether she’s looking back or not is the least of the logical problems at that moment.

 

By the way, this might be the first in a new blog series calls ‘Anika Overthinks Theater’.

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2 Responses to “Something I Never Noticed Before about ‘The Phantom of The Opera’”

  1. Jason Wise June 14, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    It’s figurative, it’s not literal. They have a storied past, she’s been training with him but after she gets what she needs she runs away because she’s scared to get close. He’s saying “I’ve been helping you, and you’re not giving me the reciprocation I desire. You’re afraid to look close, so you look from afar”. But that’s not poetic, nor does it rhyme. It catches the audience up on the fact that even though this may be her first time seeing his layer, it’s not the first time they’ve been “together”.

  2. Julie June 14, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

    You know they actually lip sync this on Broadway right? I know this isn’t your point but it should be mentioned that several parts of Phantom ON BROADWAY are not sung live. And it’s really obvious if you’re paying attention. I was so glad I only paid $25 for my ticket. This is a worn out show. Put it to bed!!!

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