NOTE: This post contains spoilers about what happens in ‘Love Never Dies’, the sequel to ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. If you’d rather not know, stop reading now!
So this past week, due to the nifty new ‘broadcast theater from around the world in NY cinemas’ phenomenon, of which I am a big fan, I finally got to see Love Never Dies, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to his big hit The Phantom of the Opera. I have issues with there being a sequel to Phantom in the first place (of all shows, that one ends on the perfect ambiguous note – if you want to think that Christine has chosen to be with her true love and escaped the creepy dude who sings at her through mirrors, you can, but if you want to think that the world has cruelly prevented Christine from being with the misunderstood genius who truly loves her, you can – why on earth would you want to mess with that?), and I had heard much about the growing pains this show had. So I was fascinated to see it, and thrilled that the production they showed was the Australian version, which I had heard was the best (and although I haven’t seen other versions, I think this production was aces – the physical production was gorgeous, with just the right amount of Coney creepy, the cast was great, and the plot clipped along in a way that I can’t imagine the longer versions do. Yay Australian theater!)
So, just some background – in this show the Phantom lives in Coney Island now, having created some big phantasmagoria (or, PHANTOMsmagoria – eh? Eh?). He is very mopey about Christine. Christine comes to NY with Raoul, now a mean drunk, and her son, Gustave. And then, you know, some stuff happens, and Christine ends up getting shot accidentally, leaving Raoul and the Phantom mourning over her body with Gustave, who turns out to really be the Phantom’s son (as we know thanks to an icky song about the sex they had, which I guarantee made everyone in the audience think “wait, with the mask on? Or off?”).
As much as I appreciated the ambiguity of the ending of Phantom, I very much appreciated the lack of ambiguity of the ending of Love Never Dies. Because looking at the Phantom, Raoul, and Gustave standing there, I thought, well, there’s really only one way this can go; obviously, the Phantom and Raoul move to the suburbs of New York and become awkward roommates who try to raise Gustave together.
Since I know Lord Lloyd Webber is very busy, I’ve decided to help him out and get him started with this. So, without further ado, a scene from ‘The Phantom of the Opera 3: Love Never Does the Dishes.’
11:30 AM, in a nice house on a nice street in New Rochelle. THE PHANTOM is in his secret underground lair. Although the rest of the house is a sunny suburban sitcom house, the lair is inexplicably dark, stone, and Gothic. The PHANTOM sits at an ornate piano, bathed in melodramatic blue light with no visible source. There is a large portrait of his lost love, CHRISTINE, on the wall. The PHANTOM is swathed in pain and pathos. He adopts and extremely dramatic pose, staring mournfully up at the portrait of CHRISTINE, and begins to sing:
TEN LONG YEARS
LIVING A MERE FAÇADE OF LIFE
TEN LONG YEARS
WASTING MY TIME ON SMOKE AND NOI-
(Suddenly, a door opens, bathing the room in bright yellow light. RAOUL stands in the door in a tuxedo with a colorful apron over it.)
RAOUL: -Where are the recycling bags?
PHANTOM: Must you interrupt?
RAOUL: Yes I must. If I don’t put out the bags today, we have to wait until next Tuesday.
PHANTOM: I was turning my pain into music.
RAOUL: Oh yeah, like that’s rare.
(THE PHANTOM sighs, with deep annoyance.)
PHANTOM: (mumbling) under the sink.
RAOUL: I’m sorry?
PHANTOM: THEY’RE UNDER THE SINK!
RAOUL: Thank you! Now you can go back to your – whatever.
(RAOUL closes the door. The lair is once again bathed in its mournful darkness. The PHANTOM adjusts the pages on his piano, and resumes his highly dramatic pose, staring up at the portrait of CHRISTINE. Just as he’s about to sing, the door opens again.)
RAOUL: They’re not there.
PHANTOM: (frustrated) GAH! Insolent idiot, can you do nothing on your own?
RAOUL: I could easily find the recycling bags on my own every time if SOMEONE would put them in the same place every time like I asked.
PHANTOM: I have composed masterpieces! I have invented wonders! How dare you imply that I cannot put a box of stupid recycling bags in the same place every time!
RAOUL: Well, if the mask fits…
PHANTOM: That is NOT acceptable, Chagny. Do NOT bring up the mask.
(RAOUL looks a little sheepish – he knows he’s gone too far.)
RAOUL: Fine. You’re right, that was a low blow. Sorry, Phanny.
PHANTOM: Don’t call me Phanny.
RAOUL: You’re impossible. I was just apologizing! Can’t you just hear that part? Besides, what am I supposed to call you? The Phantom? Angel of Music? Roomie? Co-Dad? Creepy guy who hangs out in my basement?!
PHANTOM: Just Phantom is fine. And thank you for your apology.
(RAOUL takes this in.)
RAOUL: So where are the recycling bags?
PHANTOM: If they’re not under the sink, they might be in the broom cabinet – check there.
RAOUL: Thank you. Sorry for interrupting.
(RAOUL shuts the door, gentler this time. The lair is again dark and inexplicably blue. The PHANTOM waits for a second to make sure RAOUL’s gone, then tentatively assumes his previous position, staring up at the portrait with the very dramatic crouch of a man in grevious despair over the loss of his one true love. He takes in a breath as if about to sing, then pauses and checks the door. It remains closed. The PHANTOM, satisfied, looks back at the portrait and begins to sing:)
(Abruptly, the door opens and RAOUL is again there.)
RAOUL: -do you have any dry cleaning that needs to go out?
future episodes include: ‘The Phantom and Raoul at a Parent/Teacher Conference’, ‘Awkward Neighborhood Halloween Party’, and ‘The Phantom tells Gustave about the Facts of Life’