Phantom (musical)

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Not to be confused with The Phantom of the Opera (1986 musical)
Phantom[1]
Phantom musical.jpg
Logo
Music Maury Yeston
Lyrics Maury Yeston
Book Arthur Kopit
Basis Gaston Leroux's novel
The Phantom of the Opera
Productions 1991 Houston
1991 Seattle
1991 San Bernardino
Independent worldwide productions

Phantom is a musical with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston and a book by Arthur Kopit.[2] Based on Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera, the musical was first presented in Houston, Texas in 1991.

Although it has never appeared on Broadway and has been overshadowed by the success of the 1986 Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Yeston and Kopit's Phantom has received over 1,000 productions.

Background[edit]

Yeston and Kopit had just finished the musical Nine, winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1982, when in 1983 they were approached by actor/director Geoffrey Holder to write a musical based on Leroux's novel. Holder had obtained the rights to musicalize the novel in America from the Leroux estate, making Phantom the only Phantom of the Opera musical to do so.[2] Holder planned to direct. Initially, Yeston was skeptical of the project. "I laughed and laughed.... That's the worst idea in the world! Why would you want to write a musical based on a horror story?.... And then it occurred to me that the story could be somewhat changed.... [The Phantom] would be a Quasimodo character, an Elephant Man. Don't all of us feel, despite outward imperfections, that deep inside we're good? And that is a character you cry for."[3]

In 1984, British producer Ken Hill revived his 1976 musical The Phantom of the Opera in England. This was not a big threat to Holder, Kopit and Yeston, since their musical was intended to play on Broadway. The real threat emerged through an announcement in Variety, where an article was published concerning plans for a musical production of The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The rights to the novel were in the public domain in Great Britain. Holder only held the rights for two years in the United States and Europe before the property became public domain there as well. Yeston had completed much of the score to Phantom, and Yeston, Kopit and Holder were in the process of raising money for a Broadway production when the Lloyd Webber plans were announced.[4]

After The Phantom of the Opera became a smash hit in London in 1986, Lloyd Webber announced a Broadway production, and Yeston's Broadway investors backed out.[5] Yeston, Kopit and Holder reluctantly shelved their plans for Phantom and went their separate ways for a time. When Kopit saw the Lloyd Webber version of The Phantom of the Opera in New York, he realized that the approach he and Yeston had taken was fundamentally different and that it could still work on the musical stage. A few years later, Kopit wrote the NBC miniseries Hands of a Stranger, which was successful enough that NBC approached Kopit again.[1] Kopit rewrote the script outline of his unproduced musical Phantom into a teleplay for a four-hour two-part miniseries entitled The Phantom of the Opera and sold it to NBC, with Yeston's blessing. It was filmed at the Opera Garnier, and the only music used was opera music. It starred Charles Dance, Teri Polo and Burt Lancaster and premiered on television in 1990. Kopit said, "I told Maury to hold on. Maybe someone would see the miniseries, think it would make a good musical we'd be ready."[2]

The Yeston/Kopit musical was finally produced by Theater Under the Stars in 1991 under the official title Phantom.[1] The piece has since received over 1,000 productions around the world.[2] Yeston refers to Phantom as "the greatest hit never to be produced on Broadway."[5] Yeston and Kopit's Phantom is more operetta-like in style than Lloyd Webber's, seeking to reflect the 1890s period, and seeks to project a French atmosphere to reflect its Parisian setting.[4] Its story hews closer to the to Leroux novel and offers a deeper exploration of the phantom's past and his relationship with Gérard Carrière, the head of the Opera House. The Lloyd Webber character Raoul does not feature at all in the story.[6]

Productions[edit]

Original production

In January 1991, Houston Texas’s Theater Under the Stars presented the world premiere of the Yeston/Kopit musical,[2] renamed simply Phantom to separate it further from Lloyd Weber's and other productions of Phantom of the Opera.[1] Richard White starred in the title role.[7] Members of the Houston cast recorded a cast album released by RCA records.[5]

Early regional U.S. productions

That summer of 1991, Yeston and Kopit made a few cuts and changes to the musical.[1] In the fall, the revised version was presented in Seattle and at the California Theatre of Performing Arts in San Bernardino in California and was received warmly. In Chicago, Bill Pullinsi, Artistic Director of the Candlelight Playhouse staged the production, receiving rave reviews in publications including Variety and the Wall Street Journal.[2] This led to other editions in other cities, including 1992 productions at Casa Mañana in Ft. Worth, Texas, Seaside Music Theater in Daytona Beach, and at the Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford, New York, starring Robert Cuccioli in the title role;[8] and 1993 productions at Music Theater of Wichita (Kansas), Musical Theatre Southwest in Albuquerque, New Mexico [9] and the Gateway Playhouse in Bellport, New York.[10]

International productions

The Australian premiere was held in 1996 at Altona City Theatre.[11] The musical was also performed in Estonia.[12]

A Japanese language translation was produced by the Cosmos Troupe of Takarazuka Revue in 2004 (featuring Yoka Wao and Mari Hanafusa) and in 2006 and 2011 by Flower Troupe (featuring Sumire Haruno and Ayane Sakurano in her Grand Theater debut in 2006).[citation needed] A German-language version ran for three years in Germany.[5] An Estonian-language version of Phantom was performed from November 15 to December 1, 2007 at the Linnahall in Tallinn.[13]

2007–2008 Westchester revivals

In October and November 2007, the show played at the Westchester Broadway Theater, in Elmsford, New York,[14] and continued from December 2007 to February 2008, featuring Robert Cuccioli reprising the title role.[15]

2013 London premiere

The UK premiere of Phantom was performed at Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre Pub, Walthamstow, from 14 – 31 May 2013. It was directed by Dawn Kalani Cowle with movement direction by Brendan Matthew and musical direction and orchestrations by Aaron Clingham. The show was produced by the theatre's resident company, All Star Productions. Kieran Brown played the title character, and Christine was Kira Morsley.[12][16][17]

Plot[edit]

The story begins at the time of the first meeting of Erik (the Phantom) and a street singer named Christine. Erik was born and raised in the catacombs under the Paris Opera House and needs beautiful music – he cannot exist without it. Complications arise when Gérard Carrière, the company manager, loses his position as head of the Opera house and therefore cannot protect Erik any longer. Furthermore, Carlotta, the new diva and wife of the new owner of the Opera, has such a terrible voice that the Phantom is in torment. His salvation must eventually come through Christine, whose voice is so beautiful that he falls in love with her. He accepts Christine as his pupil, training her for the opera, but forbids her to see his face. Erik's rival for Christine's affection is Count Philippe de Chandon, whose influence helps Christine get a minor job with the Paris Opera, but it is Erik's training that helps her earn a place as a member of the company. When Carlotta's jealous machinations ruin Christine's debut, Erik spirits Christine to his underground lair and later takes a terrible revenge by electrocuting Carlotta.

Carrière finds Christine and reveals an amazing secret: he is actually Erik's father. Emboldened by this revelation, Christine begs Erik to let her see his face, since his mother was able to look at him and smile. Reluctantly, he removes his mask (although the audience never sees his face), but Christine doesn't have the same fortitude and recoils in horror, causing Erik to go on a destructive rampage. Carrière helps the guilt-stricken Christine to escape, and later he returns to tell Erik the truth about their relationship. However, Erik has known all along that Carrière is his father and has only waited for Carrière to corroborate the fact. Erik fears that he will be captured and treated like a circus freak because of his horrendous face, but Carrière promises Erik that he will never be put on display. The police surround him, and Erik makes a failed attempt to swing to safety on a rope. With Erik dangling helplessly, the chief of police tells his men not to shoot because they "can take him alive!" Erik shouts out to his father for help. Carrière understands; he grabs a policeman's gun and aims at his son. Reluctantly, he fires, and the Phantom falls. Fatally wounded, Erik allows Christine to remove his mask. She now smiles and tells him "You are music, beautiful music, and you are light to me ... you are life to me," and replaces the mask as he dies.

Principal roles and cast information[edit]

The Theatre Under the Stars cast is listed first:

  • The Phantom: Richard White
  • Christine Daaé: Glory Crampton
  • Count Philippe de Chandon: Paul Schoeffler
  • Gérard Carrière: Jack Dabdoub
  • Alain Cholet (the new head of the Opera): Lyle Garrett
  • Carlotta (his diva wife): Patty Allison (replaced by Meg Bussert on the recording)
  • Joseph Buquet: Allen Kendall
  • Inspector Ledoux: James Van Treuren

Other notable cast members in later productions:

Musical numbers[edit]

Reception[edit]

The Los Angeles Times review opined, "There is a lot more understanding of Erik than of Lloyd Webber's more furtive phantom, but also less mystique. Kopit puts in details Leroux never imagined. The humanity makes for a different kind of show that hasn't found a stylistic identity. The operetta thrust makes it an old-fashioned crowd-pleaser, but traps Yeston's music between the old and the new."[18] Peter Scott-Pressland found the London production "hum-drum", but wrote: "[A]s a piece of writing, Yeston's Phantom is altogether more engaging than ALW's. It is tighter, more intimate and informed by more human sympathy. ... While it doesn’t produce the kind of melodic sweep and glamour of ALW, it rises ... in the second act to genuine emotional fervour. ... Erik is altogether more engaging and believable than the Lloyd-Webber skulker." He stated that this makes the Beauty and the Beast theme "credible and agonizing", and that the father-son theme is even more "moving in the agony of both loving and loathing the thing you have spawned."[16]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Trussell, Robert (February 14, 1993). "'Phantom' musical has spirited history". Tuscaloosa News. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Roberts, Michael J. (October 20, 2007). "Stage Door Chicago: Phantom". Broadway World. 
  3. ^ Vitaris, Paul. "The Unsinkable Maury Yeston." Show Music The Musical Theatre Magazine Spring, 1997: 17-23
  4. ^ a b Kalfatovic, Mary. "Maury Yeston", Contemporary Musicians (ed. Luann Brennan). Vol. 22, Gale Group, Inc., 1998
  5. ^ a b c d Pogrebin, Robin (May 19, 2003). "A Song in His Psyche, As Hummable as Fame". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  6. ^ Robinson, Julie. "What will the ‘Phans’ make of the UK premiere of Maury Yeston's Phantom?", LondonTheatre1.com, May 14, 2013
  7. ^ Ehren, Christine (May 20, 2000). "Yeston's Phantom w/ Original Star, White, Haunts San Jose, May 20". Playbill. 
  8. ^ Information from Broadway World.com
  9. ^ Musical Theatre Southwest history, accessed 23 June 2009[dead link]
  10. ^ A 'Phantom' That Is True to a Tradition, accessed 3 August 2012
  11. ^ "Phantom: The Australian Premiere". Altona City Theatre website, July 1996, accessed April 2, 2010
  12. ^ a b "Brown & Morsley Lead Cast in London Premiere of Yeston & Kopit's Phantom", BroadwayWorld.com, May 1, 2013
  13. ^ Estonian production of Fantoom
  14. ^ Article on the 2007 Westchester revival
  15. ^ Article on 2007-2008 Westchester run
  16. ^ a b Scott-Presland, Peter. "Trapped by a legend", BroadwayBaby.com, May 2013
  17. ^ Gardiner, Emily. "Phantom – Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre, London", The Public Reviews, May 15, 2013
  18. ^ Drake, Sylvie. "Another Phantom in the Southland". The Los Angeles Times, November 04, 1991, accessed April 24, 2010

External links[edit]