I have, necessarily, an affection for backstage plots; the time period is of particular interest; the costumes were quite pleasing (oh, the inverted box-pleats on the romantic lead's greatcoat!); the voices were excellent; the show is a technical marvel (stage manager, I salute you); the voices were exceptional; the spoof of Baroque opera almost killed me; other than the two very famous melodies everyone knows from the show I thought it was surprisingly complex musically (and made me want to see some real opera again) and all in all the show had much more energy than I generally expect from a Wednesday night performance of anything so long-running. I had a very good time.
But now that I've said that, OMG, WHUT?
Of course, to call it a two-and-a-half-hour musical about rape vastly understates the bizarreo-world factor of this musical, although it's hardly an inaccurate statement.
At first, I was merely staggered by what this show must do to thirteen-year-old girls. I mean, it's just utterly designed to be seductive to anyone who doesn't want to own their sexuality and is drawn to any sort of narrative of submission, ordeal or apprenticeship. I should have, in fact, been all over this shit. At thirteen, I surely would have been. And the gaggle of girls that age we saw in the bathroom surely were.
But honestly, it's much, much weirder than that. Because is it about Christine's latent desire for the Phantom? or just her latent pity? And she doesn't seem that into her boyfriend other than as someone to rescue her from her own desire for the ordeal. It all seemed a bit Snape/Hermione too, of course, and that was amusing to me, at least until the daddy issues showed up. Snape/Hermione never had daddy issues, at least the Snape/Hermione I read.
And wow, that's a lot of play and a lot of sex and a lot of heaving bosoms (I'm more of a total package sort of person, but I could not stop staring at Christine's chest in this. Oh My God) to not even obliquely mention the opera girl/titilation/whore factor (now sure, part of that is because hi, huge Baz Luhrmann fan here, and also historically aware, but really, the ridiculously uptight ballet mistress that I should totally be cast as? The sexually-repressed conduit of the show's sexuality? What the hell is that about?).
What a completely bizarre and vaguely intellectually offensive show. Man, when this first came out, gender and sexuality scholars must have been like "happy birthday to me" -- what a goldmine of crazy!