Thoughts While Listening To “Love Never Dies”

Normally I write reviews over cast albums, but for this particular post, I thought it would be fun to write my thoughts as I listen to the “Love Never Dies” London Cast Recording.

The “Love Never Dies Soundtrack has been out since 2010 and includes the vocal talents of Ramin Karimloo (Phantom), Sierra Boggess (Christine) and Joseph Millson (Raoul) as the three main characters. The recording also features Sally Dexter as Madame Giry and Summer Strallen as Meg Giry. The music was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Glenn Slater.

While the musical is not as popular as “The Phantom of the Opera,” the score is amazing, however, some of the lyrics are laughable. So sit back and enjoy my thoughts as I listen to “Love Never Dies.”

 

Prologue (Love Never Dies)
I actually really like this song. It’s like in the beginning of “Phantom.” It’s slightly creepy and it leaves the audience wondering what happened that took place during the musical.

You tell Madame Giry, Fleck!

Why wasn’t this in the Australian production on DVD?

The Cony Island Waltz
I would skip this song, but the music is captivating. This is what happens when you listen to a musical by ALW.

That’s the Place That You Ruined, You Fool!
So… It’s Madame Giry’s fault?

Heaven By the Sea
This song means nothing to me.

Apparently Coney Island is extremely poplar and the Phantom is just as mysterious as ever.

Only For Him/Only For You
So, Meg wants the Phantom’s attention. HAHAHAHA!

Meg is obsessed with being a star.

This song is annoying.

Good vocals on that last, “You.”

The Ayrie
The score is so beautiful! One of my favorite songs on the soundtrack.

This is just an example of ALW’s genius and talent.

Till I Hear You Sing
“Ten long years.”

I love Ramin’s voice.

This song is so beautiful and so sad.

Phantom just wants Christine back.

Phantom: “Let hopes pass, let dream pass. Let them die! Without you what are they for?”
My feels!

Giry Confronts the Phantom/ ‘Til I Hear You Sing (Reprise)
Meg: Trying to get Phantom’s attention
Phantom: Doesn’t care

Phantom: “Careful Madame. You’re forgetting yourself.” Too late.

Madame Giry is MEAN! Stop reminding the Phantom of Christine and that she wasn’t there for the last ten years!

Phantom seems to have controlled his temper. Better to have him yell in your face than threaten or murder you.

Christine Disembarks
I know this number takes place weeks later, but how many?

Raoul is a jerk.

The journalists are annoying.

Arrival of the Trio/ Are You Ready to Begin?
This song is so short, but I love the minions and Raoul needs a chill pill.

What a Dreadful Town!
Poor Gustave just wants to play with his dad.

Stop yelling Raoul.

Christine is trying so hard to save her marriage.

I feel so bad for Christine. Poor girl didn’t sign up for this and Phantom didn’t let them go just so Raoul could be a terrible husband and father.

Look With Your Heart
Aw, I love this song.

Beneath a Moonless Sky
Love the intro music!

Christine has some serious backbone when she’s dealing with the Phantom.

Um… no comment on what they’re singing about. Beautiful voices though.

I wonder if they know their kid is in the other room.

Christine: “And I loved you. Yes, I loved you. I’d have followed anywhere you led. I woke to swear my love and found you gone instead.”
Nice going Phantom.

Once Upon Anther Time
Another sad, yet beautiful song.

Phantom: “Were it still that other time, I’d make time itself somehow bend. But now I’m not that strong and time keeps moving on.”
My feels!

They still love each other. It’s so sad!

“Mother Please, I’m Scared!”
I don’t think Phantom likes Gustave, since he thinks Gustave is Raoul and Christine’s child.

Dear Old Friend
Everyone hates each other, except Christine, who is the only happy one.

Nice job Madame Giry, you told Raoul the Phantom is still alive and is Christine’s boss.

Raoul: “I’ll deal with you later.”
Raoul, you JERK!

Meg: “Don’t play naïve.”
Meg is savage.

They can’t keep track of Gustave. Foreshadowing?

Beautiful
I love the minions.

Phantom is figuring it out.
“He plays like me.”
“He’s just ten years old.”

“Ten years oooooooooooold!”

Phantom: OMG

The Beauty Underneath
I can picture Gerard Butler rocking out to this song.

Basically the Phantom and Gustave have the same mind.

Phantom is already a proud father. It’s so adorable!

Don’t show him your face, Phantom!

Based on that scream, I’m just going to say Gustave is definitely his parents’ child.

The Phantom Confronts Christine
The truth is out!

Phantom: “My own flesh and blood. And even he recoils in horror from me. Just like his mother.”
OUCH!

Of course the Phantom is going to give Gustave his park, I don’t know why Madame Giry thought she was going to get it.

Ok, seriously what happened to Madame Giry in the last ten years? Did living in America make her greedy?

Entr’acte (Love Never Dies)
Not crazy about this song.

*Checks social media*

Why Does She Love Me?
Raoul is drunk and pouring his soul out.

I recently read that John Barrowman was going to play Raoul in LND, but was replaced by Joseph. Another article said John backed out due to complications with ALW. Now I want to hear John sing this song, however, I love Joseph’s version.

Well Raoul if you would get off your butt, stop drinking and spend more time with your family, maybe your marriage would be fine.

This song just proves that Raoul doesn’t have that bond that Christine and Phantom have.

Ugh, he’s so greedy.

Devil Take the Hindmost
I call this song, “Men Being Idiots.”

I can’t believe they’re betting over Christine. She’s not a trophy!

Raoul: “I won her long ago…”
No, Raoul. Christine saved you and then Phantom let you both leave. YOU were nearly hung because you forgot to keep your hand at the level of your eyes.

Phantom, I don’t think you’re the right person to tell Raoul that Gustave is not his child. Not your place buddy.

Raoul doesn’t care that he’s possibly going to loose his family until the end of the song.

Heaven By the Sea (Reprise)
Why am I listening to this?

Is the excitement surrounding the park and ensemble supposed to contrast against the bleak mood that surrounds the major characters?

Ladies… Gents! / The Coney Island Waltz (Reprise)
Boring.

Bathing Beauty
*Skips song because I can’t stand it*

“Mother Did You Watch?”
Poor Meg.

Before the Performance
Gustave and Christine have the cutest mother/son relationship.

Christine: “Once this performance is through, we’ll spend some time just us two.”
This just makes the ending even more sad.

Raoul: “Just ask it of me.”
Too late for “All I Ask of You” references, Raoul.

Phantom comes in like, “Two can play at this game.”

Both men just want Christine and Gustave in their lives. If you both want Gustave, it’s called joint custody.

There’s no question Christine will choose Phantom over Raoul at this point. He seems to understand her on a level that Raoul doesn’t and never will. Proof that this musical is for Phantom/Christine shippers.

Love that they added “Twisted Every Way.”

Devil Take the Hindmost (Quartet)
This song is basically “The Final Lair” without the Phantom’s temper and Raoul’s life being threatened.

Phantom and Raoul: “Do it for our son.”
Seriously boys, it’s called joint custody.

Phantom, Raoul, Madame Giry: “All is on the line.”
They got that right.

Random stage manager: “And curtain.”
Hahaha.

Love Never Dies
Long, boring intro. It goes on for over a minute, geez.

This song reminds me of the events in “Phantom.” Are they trying to excuse the Phantom’s actions, or am I just overthinking?

As much as I love this song, nothing will beat “The Phantom of the Opera,” when it comes to title songs.

Sierra set the bar high for this one.

“Ah, Christine…”
Phantom and Christine are officially reunited (and it feels so good).

Bye, Raoul.

Raoul: “Romantic idiots.”
Didn’t look so idiotic in “Phantom.” Everyone is so out of character.

“Gustave! Gustave!…”
Phantom is in worried daddy mode.

Phantom is actually scary in this number.

Phantom: “My patence is running dry!”
Yeah, you don’t want to mess with the Phantom’s patience.

Phantom: “Gustave, Gustave, Gustave!”
Holy cow. Not going to lie, Ramin nailed those screams.

How does Phantom know where Meg took Gustave? Oh, the bar scene in “Why Does She Love Me,” when Meg was talking about the sea and Phantom was waiting to make his appearance. I can’t believe I just now figured that out.

“Please Miss Giry, I Want to Go Back…”
Let him go Meg, he’s just a kid.
She has really lost it at this point.

Phantom: “What are you saying?”
Phantom, are your mask  and wig on too tight? She basically pulled a Fantine to help with your park.

Phantom: “We can’t all be like Christine.”
*Face palm* Nice going Phantom.

Christine: “Your real father.”
LND, a musical “Star Wars.”

Is ALW trying to say that Phantom and Christine can never be together?

I feel so bad for Phantom. Christine is dying, he’s now a single father to a child he just met a few days ago and he was only happy for a few minutes.

I would turn this song off, but the score is so pretty.

Okay, it’s over now and I’m sad.

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Why I Love Musicals

Anyone who knows me personally, or via my twitter account, knows that I am a huge fan of musical theater and my dream is to one day be a critic for Broadway shows. But not everyone knows how I became interested in musicals or why I love them so much.

Growing up, I watched a ton of Disney movies, but I also watched “The Wizard of Oz,” “Annie,” “The Sound of Music” and “My Fair Lady.” While these films were, and still are, my all time favorites, my love for musicals did not begin until I saw something that, in my opinion, was entirely different.

When I was around six-years-old my mom and stepdad (who at the time was my mom’s boyfriend), recorded the musical “CATS” when it was on television one night and my mom decided to introduce me to it. She only showed me a few scenes on the VHS tape, but that was enough to get me hooked. Next thing I knew I was watching the entire film while dancing to it, especially when Rum Tum Tugger came on the screen. Love him!

That’s right. It was not Julie Andrews, Judy Garland, Carol Burnett or even Bernadette Peters and Tim Curry I danced to. It was John Partridge and his awesome shoulder shake.

I saw my first live musical with my grandparents when I was about eight. The show was “Beauty and the Beast.” I remember we were in the high seats and I had to use binoculars to see the what was happening, but I did not use them most of the time.

“Beauty and the Beast” was good, but at eight-years-old I did not really think about it or the cast. I remember wondering about the song “Human Again” because it was not in the Disney cartoon, so I was a little confused, but I went with it.

Another wonderful thing happened when I was eight-years-old. I discovered the music from “The Phantom of the Opera” on a Andrew Lloyd Webber CD in my mom’s car. There were only three songs from the musical on the album, but that is all it took for me to become obsessed with yet another one of Webber’s works. Needless to say the title song, “Music of the Night” and “All I Ask of You” were on repeat every time I was in the car. Sorry mom.

Two years later I had the opportunity to see “The Phantom of the Opera” on stage. The show was on tour and me, my mom and our family friend went to go see it. I remember the auctioneer was creepy, the cast was great and the thing that boggled my mind the most was the Phantom was the “bad guy.” You can imagine my confusion when the audience started cheering for him at curtain call. I did not fully grasp the meaning of the musical and it’s characters until I was in high school, but until that time I loved the music.

When I was 14, I got to see “The Phantom of the Opera” in New York. It was the first show I got the chance to see on Broadway and to this day I am still happy about it. This show has a special place in my heart and will always be my favorite musical.

“CATS” was not only the show that got my passion started, but when I was watching the DVD in high school I began to realize how much work was involved behind the scenes, mainly, the costumes, makeup, choreography, etc. That was when I really started to appreciate what goes into making a musical.

Fast forward. I was 19, in college and oh, my gosh! The stage recording of the “Phantom” 25th anniversary was going to be on DVD! My mom bought it for me after I asked and I spent my Valentine’s Day watching it. Who needs a date when you have “Phantom?”

Once again, I had a epiphany. Thanks to the close ups on the DVD I was able to see the orchestra and I was suddenly hit with appreciation for them, because I never gave much thought to the people who play the music. I was in awe of everything. Ramin’s “Music of the Night” made me recognize acting abilities and Sierra’s “Wishing” and “Wandering Child” made me think about vocals and range. Hadley Fraser was a joy to watch because of his facial expressions, powerful voice and charming smile.

Because of two actors who were involved in “Phantom” 25, I wanted to watch the hit musical, “Les Misérables,” which was filmed as a concert recording and had been released on DVD two years prior.

A bit of history. My mom tried to get me to listen to the “Les Misérables” soundtrack when I was at least 10. She saw it in London with my stepdad and thought I would like it. I looked it up, but it did not appeal to me and the title made it sound miserable.

Looking back now, I can honestly say I am glad I was older when I discovered the”Les Misérables.” As I was watching the 25th anniversary on DVD, I fell in love with it. The music was astonishing, the story was phenomenal and the actors, with the exception of Nick Jonas, blew me away. I also fell in love with the characters and was introduced to more actors.

I saw “Les Misérables” live for the first time in 2012 and I was very excited. It was on tour and the film version was set to be released later that year. Perfect timing! The musical was even more beautiful in person and the cast was amazing. A couple of years later I was able to see the the revival on Broadway and got the chance to meet Ramin Karimloo.

As my college years went by I saw more shows and my love for theater grew. I bought albums by actors and cast recordings. I paid attention to Broadway and touring group news, got more DVDs and read more books that musicals and plays were based on. Some were for class, others for enjoyment. My bedroom walls are now covered with posters and a few have not been framed yet.

When I started to learn more about musicals and actors in college, my family told me I should do something with my passion, but I did not know what and shrugged them off.  It was not until later I decided I wanted to be a critic.

Once I changed my major to journalism and my minor to theater, everyone I knew thought it was a better fit for me. It was a long process (or so it seemed), but I finally graduated in December of 2015.

I graduated college with a higher respect for the arts because of classes I took, productions I helped with (I was always on crew) and my love for musicals intact. I can now say I do not just appreciate theater, but rather all forms of art.

Here is a reflection of what I have learned:

Writers pour out their souls and artists make theirs visible. Photographers capture moments and must choose several perfect photos out of the hundreds they take. Musicians work hard as they continue to play, read, write music and/or sing. No matter what form it is in, the arts matter.

Why do I love musicals? Because they tell a story, they inspire people and they are a joy to watch. The cast and crew work hard and I have learned to appreciate them. I fell in love with musical theater at a young age and it just grew from there. Eventually, it was something I had a passion for and wanted to critique. It all started with “CATS” and “Phantom.”

“Phantom of the Opera” 30th Anniversary Finale Performance

After hours of anticipation, “The Phantom of the Opera’s” 30th anniversary finale performance was live streamed on FaceBook on October 10, 2016. The event was live streamed so that  people from all around the world with access to the popular social media account could watch the video live on the show’s page.

The special event took place in London at Her Majesty’s Theatre after the show ended for the night. It featured current and former “Phantom” actors, as well as the creator and composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber with producer, Cameron Mackintosh.

The event started with a video of some history and former interviews. Then, two of the cast members literally unveiled Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh. The two gentlemen went on to talk about the original cast, the music and failed attempts with live animals and robotic rats. It was very easy to tell the two are close and have been friends for a long time.

After the two finished speaking, Webber went to his piano and out came Sierra cuczpkbueaarknw-jpg-smallBoggess, an actress who has played Christine several times in various productions, including the 25th Anniversary, which was filmed and released on DVD. Boggess is a current cast member of the Paris production, which has unfortunately been delayed.

Boggess gave a beautiful French rendition of “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” and switched to English for the last verse. I do not speak French so I could not tell if her pronunciation was correct or not, but she sang beautifully. Her voice has definitely improved since the “Phantom” 25th anniversary release.

Just when you think it cannot get any better, former London Raoul,  Michael Ball, stepped out to sing “All I Ask of You” along with current cast members Celinde Schoenmaker (Christine) and Nadim Naaman (Raoul). Not only was the trio incredibly talented, but they were also hilarious.

Ball came in with his big, beautiful voice, all the while having fun with the song by havingcufjszyueaijeju-jpg-small a “bromance” moment with Webber, who was at the piano. Schoenmaker came in for the next verse, then Naaman and the two Raouls started playfully fighting over Christine. It ended with Ball and Naaman pushing Schoenmaker aside and fishing the last chorus while embracing. Can you say Raoul-mance?

After the most hilarious version of “All I Ask of You” I have ever seen, the title song began to play and current cast members, Celinde Schoenmaker and Ben Forster (Phantom) entered, then the members of the Paris production, Sierra Boggess (Christine) and Gardar Thor Cortes (Phantom). Joining the two duos was former Phantom, John Owen-Jones and current standby for the title role, Scott Davis.

The two Christines and four Phantoms were absolutely amazing. Cortes and Boggess were fantastic. It was nice to hear the Paris cast sing a couple of the lines in French. Schoenmaker and Forster were mesmerizing and had the best chemistry. John Owen-Jones was perfect and Davis was great. I cannot imagine a better sextet (group of six people).

The final number was a short version of “Masquerade” with the cast. Once it was over, the special guests and original cast and crew, including Michael Crawford, came out to sing “Happy Birthday” to the show.

Overall, the finale was amazing. My only complaint is that the four Phantoms did not sing the hit song, “Music of the Night,” which would have been lovely to hear in French by Cortes and we would have been able to hear the actors’ individual voices.

I loved watching the cast members perform and it was great to get a little taste of the Paris production. I feel extremely thankful to have been one of many to watch the finale live stream on FaceBook alongside many other fans. Here’s to 30 more years “Phantom.”

“Phantom of the Opera” 2004 v.s. 25th Anniversary

“The Phantom of the Opera” is a story about love, seduction and mystery. Over the years there have been countless film versions, including the 2004 movie based off the 1986 musical adaption. For the 25th anniversary of the stage show, the London performance was filmed at the Royal Albert Hall and released on DVD months later.

The movie is now considered below par among most “Phans” who love the stage show. Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum and Patrick Wilson starred in it and Joel Schumacher directed it.

Watching the film now, I have noticed a few things I did not a few years ago. The leads are not as impressive as I thought previously, and a few things do not make sense, one of them is the “Point of No Return” scene. It looks as if Christine is plotting her own plan, rather than being scared like in the stage show.

After years of the 2004 movie being the only source to view the musical when it was not on tour, it was a surprise when the “Phantom” team announced the 25th anniversary of the stage show would be recorded and released on DVD in 2011 for the U.K. and 2012 for the U.S.

The 25th anniversary starred Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess and Hadley Fraser as the lead roles. Karimloo and Boggess had been in different productions of “Phantom” and co-stared in the “Phantom” sequel, “Love Never Dies.” Fraser was the only actor of the three who had no experience with the show.

Butler and Karimloo played the Phantom differently, however, Karimloo portrayed the role on West End and had more experience. He made the role his own and has a fantastic voice.

Butler is more of an actor than a singer, which is not good considering the role is vocally demanding and the Phantom is meant to have an angelic voice. Schumacher chose Butler because of his looks, rather than his voice and told him to “make it sexy” during filming.

The Phantom is not meant to be a physically handsome man. The character’s voice and skills as a musician are what make him beautiful. His desire for love and to have an undeformed face are what make him human and depending on who portrays the Phantom, he can be a bit childlike. While these are traits that make the audience love him, he is meant to be insane, angry and murderous, which is why people in the show fear him.

Boggess and Rossum are very different in their portrayals of Christine. Like Karimloo, Boggess had previously played her role and is considered a fan favorite. She has an incredible soprano voice and put a lot of emotion into the character.

Rossum was 16 years old at the time of filming for the 2004 movie and while she is a good actress, there was not a lot of emotion in her voice, which is an important aspect of the show. Her version of “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” is mediocre and I did not hear the sadness or desperation that the song requires when I last watched the film.

Christine is vocally and physically demanding role. The character has the most stage time; she is a ballet dancer and hits the highest note in the musical (E6). Throughout the show the audience can see her character development, as she goes from being shy and innocent to a woman who is not afraid to stand up for herself.

Stage actors, Fraser and Wilson are very different in their portrayals of Raoul. Fraser’s Raoul tended to come off as rude, angry and a bit unemotional. He is not my favorite and it did not help he was playing Javert in the stage version of “Les Misérables” at the time. However, he had the right look and he has a great voice. He would make a fantastic Phantom if he ever decided to portray the role.

Originally, Wilson auditioned for the Phantom, but was given the role of Raoul. He did a great job with the character and had a good voice to match. Unfortunately, his long and distracting wig often overshadows this.

Raoul is the anti-Phantom. He is handsome, young and his love for Christine is pure. He will risk his own life for the woman he loves and is not intimidated by the Phantom. Depending on who plays the role, Raoul is either likable or hated. It all comes down to the actor.

The biggest hit or miss for any “Phantom” film is the deformity. Why is this important?

  • It is a part of the Phantom’s appearance
  • It is part of the reason why the Phantom is bitter and angry at the world
  • It is the reason why the Phantom is insecure
  • It gives Christine a reason to fear him in the first act
  • It is a mystery to the audience until nearly the end of the musical
  • It shows the makeup artist’s talent

A “Phan’s” definition of a good deformity means the Phantom’s face has to look hideous and he must have very little hair. We saw it in the anniversary; unfortunately, we received the exact opposite in the 2004 film. The Phantom had a head full of blonde hair and the deformity looked like a sunburn.

The sets in both films are different. The movie has a more realistic set design, including a few ideas from the novel, which I love. The look for the opera house was very well done, especially for the stage. I liked the underground lair and the Phantom’s organ.

The 25th anniversary included props from the original stage show. Unfortunately, some of them had to be left out, but the cast was able to work around it. Personally, I prefer this set because it gives the audience the magic of the musical.

I grew up with the 2004 version of “Phantom,” but the 25th anniversary is my favorite. It introduced me to actors I did not know of in 2012 and it gave me a higher appreciation for people involved in theater. It is fantastic and is a must have for any fan of the stage show or movie.

“Phantom of the Opera” Book v. Musical

Have you ever seen a musical and then read the book it was based on, or vice versa?

If you have, you might have noticed some big or small differences in the story lines. This is true for the musical based on the novel, “The Phantom of the Opera.”

The book was written and published by Gaston Leroux, a French novelist, in 1909. A British composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, made the novel come alive on stage with a musical production in 1986. It continues to be one of the longest running shows on London’s West End and on New York’s Broadway.

The storyline for both the musical and novel are the same. A man with a deformed face is in love with a young Swedish soprano, Christine Daaé, who he gives vocal lessons to. Christine falls in love with her childhood sweetheart, Raoul de Changy, who returns the same feelings. Danger approaches when the Phantom’s orders are disobeyed and the two lovers become closer.

While some details in the novel and musical remain the same, there are a lot of differences. However, a couple of details from the novel were added to the 2004 movie, based on Webber’s stage production. One example is the maze of mirrors, which was mentioned in the stage adaption, but came to life in the film.

One of the biggest differences between the novel and the musical, is the Phantom’s deformity. In the book the deformity covers his entire face and he is forced to wear a full face mask. In the stage version, the deformity only covers half of his face and he wears a half mask.

The decision Prince and Webber make to give the Phantom half of a mask allows them to captivate the audience even more. We can see his expressions and emotions more clearly than we can visualize it in the book. Another example of such contrast between the two versions is the Phantom’s name. Leroux named him “Erik” in the novel and in the musical, he is “The Phantom.” 

Raoul is another character in “The Phantom of the Opera” that is portrayed differently in the book as well as the stage production. In the book, he is jealous, has a temper problem and is a bit of a stalker. Why Christine fell in love with him, I may never know because he does not seem pleasant to be around. However, he did go through a lot of trials and torture to try and save Christine from Erik’s kidnapping at nearly the end of the story, so you cannot say he did not love her.

Depending on how he is portrayed in the musical, Raoul can be the biggest sweetheart and very adorable. He also has a backbone, can hold his own against the Phantom and is very much in love with Christine. The character is easy to fall in love with, but it depends on who is playing him.

Another character difference is Madame Giry. In the book, she is the ballet teacher and the Phantom’s messenger, who he pays. She does not have a large role in the novel compared to the musical adaption.

In the musical, Madame Giry is a mother figure to Christine and knows more about the Phantom than anyone in the opera house. Much like in the book, she is the ballet teacher and the Phantom’s messenger. She is also intimidating and one of the strongest women in the novel and stage version.

In Webber’s production, Madame Giry knew who the Phantom was because she visited a traveling fair he was in and never forgot him. The 2004 film gave them a slightly bigger story in regard to their past.

The person who knew the most about Erik in the novel is the Persian, who often confronts him and is an old friend. Their friendship, and Erik’s past in general, is elaborated more in the book, “Phantom” by Susan Kay.

Susan Kay’s novel, “Phantom” is the story of Erik’s life and how he came to be the Phantom. It also elaborates on his and Christine’s relationship and how he came to be her teacher. The ending is very different from the stage version and original book.

*Spoilers for the ending of the book and musical*

The biggest difference between the two versions is the ending. In the book, Erik dies of a broken heart after letting Christine and Raoul leave. In the musical, once they are free, the Phantom disappears from under his cloak and no one knows where he went.

Personally, I prefer the musical’s ending. It is not as sad and gives the Phantom a chance to start over. It left the future for the Phantom, Christine and Raoul wide open, with a touch of mystery and a stunned audience. Ah, the magic of theater.

*End of spoilers*

If you are a fan of the “Phantom of the Opera” musical, then you will like the novel. If you have not seen the stage version, the best way to view it is to buy the 25th anniversary on DVD or Blu-Ray. The 2004 movie of the same name is good too, but it does not have the same magic the show has.

I have been a “Phan” for years and I think “Phantom” is one of the best musicals of all time. If you have not seen it, you are missing out, there is something in it for everyone.

If I could recast the “Phantom of the Opera” movie in 2016

Do you ever watch “The Phantom of the Opera” 2004 movie and say, “What were they thinking?”

Do you ever wish they had cast Ramin Karimloo as Raoul instead of Christine’s father, who only had two, three second cameos. Do you wish they had casted a vocally stronger Christine, a younger looking Raoul and a better singer than Gerard Butler? So do I.

If I could recast “The Phantom of the Opera” movie in 2016, this is who I would cast:

Phantom

John BarrowmanJohn-Barrowman-image-john-barrowman-36440683-600-850

Barrowman played Raoul in “Phantom” on West End (London) in 1992. He has a lot of stage experience, having been in many musicals before he was on television. He has also recorded several albums over the years and has toured after their releases.

Barrowman is famous for being on the television shows “Doctor Who,” “Torchwood” and “Arrow.” He currently plays the villain in the latter, so Phantom would not be a big stretch.

Like Gerard Butler, he is Scottish and very good looking. Unlike Butler, he is a professional theater actor, who is vocally trained and would have more knowledge of what the role requires.

 

Christine

Julia UdineUnknown

Udine is 22-years-old, portrayed Christine on the “Phantom” U.S. tour and is currently playing the same role on Broadway. She has a spectacular voice and is a fan favorite due to her age and career.

I saw her twice on tour and she is one of my favorite actresses who has played the role of Christine. Her acting and vocal range are amazing.

Like Emmy Rossum, Udine is one of the youngest actresses to play the role. Unlike Rossum, Udine is a professional theater actress and knows what is required to play the role. She can sing with emotion and her voice would not be as low during “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again.”

 

Raoul

Chris McCarrellIMG_6400

McCarrell is currently portraying Marius in the “Les Misérables” revival (closing in March). He is young, has a great voice and has a smile that melts fangirls’ hearts.

Personally, I think he would be a great fit if he was given the chance to play Raoul, even on Broadway. He would portray the role better than Patrick Wilson, who has a great voice, but wore a terrible wig and looked too old for the part.

 

 

Meg

Samantha BarksSamantha Barks, Awardsline, December 15, 2012

Barks is one of the biggest names in musical theater. She got her start in on the BBC show “I’d Do Anything,” a show where girls and young boys competed to play Nancy and Oliver for the musical, “Oliver.” She was the youngest competitor and came in third.

Since “I’d Do Anything,” Barks was in “Les Misérables” on West End, the 25th anniversary concert and 2012 movie version as Eponine. She played the role of Nancy in the “Oliver” U.K. tour in 2011 before leaving to film “Les Mis” and returning a year later. She has been in several movies and musicals since then.

Barks is a Mezzo-Soprano and she can dance, so I think she could portray Meg and do the role justice. I am a huge fan of hers and I know this is a role she would knock out of the park.

 

Madame Giry

Idina Menzel

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Is there anything this woman cannot do? Musicals, movies, television shows, albums and a large fan base from around the world. This woman can do it all.

Menzel started her Broadway career as Maureen in the musical, “Rent,” a role she reprised 10 years later for the movie version. Since then she has been in “Wicked,” a role which she won a Tony for, but her overall career seemed to take off once she played Elsa in Disney’s, “Frozen.”

While she has never played a role like Madame Giry, that I know of, she would nail it. Plus, I would love to see her and Barks playing mother and daughter.

 

Carlotta

Kristin ChenowethUnknown-1

Another woman who can do anything and she can do it in style. She is also from my home state, Oklahoma, so I am a bit biased.

Chenoweth is another fan favorite. She is funny, can hold some very high notes and can play any role she is given. She won a Tony for her role as Sally in “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” has been in several other musicals, movies, television shows and hosted the Tony Awards in 2015 with Alan Cumming.

Chenoweth is well known for originating the role of the popular girl, G(a)linda in the musical, “Wicked,” so I do not think Carlotta is much of a stretch. Chenoweth is a very talented actress and has a fantastic voice, I would love to see her as Carlotta.

 

Andre and Firmin (The Managers)

Ramin Karimloo and Hadley Fraser

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Hadley Fraser (left) and Ramin Karimloo (right)

Over the past few years these two have been known to portray enemies while in a musical together. In the “Phantom” 25th anniversary in 2011, Karimloo played Phantom and Fraser played Raoul. On West End’s “Les Misérables” in 2012, Karimloo played Jean Valjean and Fraser played Javert. In reality, they are best friends and have their own band.

I can very easily see Karimloo and Fraser as the managers.  I think they would have fun with it and make the audience laugh. The roles are not as vocally challenging as the Phantom and Raoul are, but it would give Fraser and Karimloo a chance to act like goofballs.

BONUS:

The Auctioneer

Michael Crawfordarticle-1362592-0D7561ED000005DC-603_468x665

The original Phantom and inspiration to many, who was robbed of his chance to be in the 2004 “Phantom” movie, Michael Crawford. That is all.

My Top 10 Favorite Musicals

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*Note- These are not all of my programs*

I have seen many musicals live over the years and loved them all, well most of them. As 2015 comes to an end, I decided to rate my top ten favorites so far. I hope to see more new shows in 2016.

1)  The Phantom of the Opera

Anyone who knows me personally or on social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) can tell you “Phantom of the Opera” is my number one musical.

The story is about a disfigured man who haunts the Paris opera house and is in love with singer, Christine Daae, who believes him to be the Angel of Music her deceased father sent. Along the way she reconciles with her childhood sweetheart, Raoul de Chagny.

Jealousy ensures, chandeliers fall and the wrath of a madman is faced. A timeless love triangle for all ages with beautiful music and songs that will get stuck in your head.

My first experience with this musical was the music on an Andrew Lloyd IMG_7424Webber CD that was in my mother’s car when I was eight years-old. Since then I have received the 2004 movie and live recording of the 25th anniversary on DVD. I have seen the show live six times, including on Broadway in New York.

I have seen both the original set and the 2014 tour set, which is very different. The sets may be dissimilar, but the story remains the same.

2) Les Misérables

This was a show I was introduced to by watching the 25th anniversary on DVD when I was 19. I wanted to watch it because one of the actors from “Phantom 25,” Ramin Karimloo, was in it. The first time I watched it, I fell in love with the musical. My mom tried to get me to listen to the music after she saw it in London when I was younger, but the title was discouraging.

The story revolves around multiple characters, the main one being Jean IMG_3453Valjean, a man who is on the run from Inspector Javert. As time goes on he gives his life to God and adopts a young girl named Cosette after promising her dying mother he would protect the child.

Years pass and Cosette falls in love with one of the revolutionary boys, Marius, who returns her love. Unknowest to him, his best friend, Eponine, is in love with him.

The revolution rages and Jean Valjean joins in order to protect Marius after learning of his love for Cosette.

Since watching the 25th, I got the 10th anniversary on DVD for my 20th birthday and have the 2012 movie. I have seen the musical live twice, once on Broadway in 2014.

I have several different CD recordings and many versions of one of the biggest numbers, “Bring Him Home,” on my iPod.

3) Cats

This, I believe, is the most underrated, or misunderstood, show Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber has created. I feel as if half the people who have seen it do not like it and the other half do. Unfortunately, my college roommate/best friend was in the “don’t like it” category.

The musical is about cats who all want to go to the Heavyside Layer to be reborn. One of the major characters, Grizabella, is an outcast amongst the rest of them who sings about her time when she was younger.

I grew up with this musical, like I did with “Phantom.” My mom had recorded the movie version of it one evening when I was about six years-old and I have loved it ever since. I have it on DVD and have seen it live twice.

This is a show that I have come to love even more over time because I learned to appreciate the dancing, music, costumes and singing, not just in this musical, but others as well. “Cats” was just the beginning for me.

4) Wicked

I cannot tell you how much my college roommate and I related to thisIMG_8920 musical, or how many references we made for that matter.

This is the untold story about the witches of “The Wizard of Oz,” the green witch, Elphaba, and the good witch, Glinda.

Both witches were roommates and very dissimilar. Glinda was the popular girl and Elphaba was the outcast, but also very powerful. It is a story of friendship, love and gives the message that it is okay to be different.

I have seen this show live twice and I will probably never get tired of it. The music, costumes and story are great.

It has been rumored that there will be a movie based on the musical in 2016, but we shall see. All I can say is, Hollywood better not mess it up.

5) Once

I have only seen this musical one time, but I loved every second of it. This show became a favorite before the first act ended.

IIMG_5777 bought the CD during intermission and put it on my iPod when I got back to my apartment. Since then I have downloaded several versions of the Grammy winning song, “Falling Slowly.”

Based off the movie of the same name, this musical is about a musician who wants to get his ex-girlfriend back. Along the way he meets another woman who helps him with his mission and music. Along the way, the two fall for each other, but are unable to be together.

6) The Lion King

I have seen this show twice and the last time I saw it I was in high school and my stepmom took my sisters and I to see it.

Based off the Disney movie of the same name, this is the story of a young lion cub named Simba, who is heir to the throne and cannot wait to be king.

After witnessing a devastating event, he runs away from it and makes new friends along the way. Years pass and the lion must fulfill his destiny by taking his place as the true king.

Recently, I have thought back and remembered how majestic the musical was. The costumes were phenomenal, as well as the music, cast and crew. I grew up with the Disney movie, so it is no surprise this is one of my favorites.

7) Mamma Mia

This is one of the funniest musicals I have ever seen. The first time I saw it, I was in high school and it was an amazing show. The tour is coming to my state in 2016, so fingers crossed I can see it for a second time.

In this musical, a bride invites her father to give her away. The problem: she has three possible fathers.

As she tries to figure out which man is her real father, her mother finds out they are all there. Chaos ensures and the meaning of family takes a new turn.

I received the DVD for Christmas one year and while it is not as good as the live show, it is still pretty decent. Sadly, it was one of the musicals Hollywood messed up by casting big names, some of whom could not sing. Pierce Brosnan, I’m looking at you.

8) Book of Mormon

Another hilarious musical that lived up to it’s expectation. I had heard about the show before and that it was really good, but I did not have10891904_919527818059064_4628597789392523562_n an opinion until I saw it.

This musical is not about the Book of Mormon itself, but rather two missionaries who are sent to Africa. On their mission they try to convert the atheist African tribe to Mormonism.

When I finally saw the musical, I kept an open mind since I am a Christian and I heard the show had to do with making fun of Mormons and Christianity.  Much to my surprise, it was hilarious and the entire audience was cracking up.

Some of the Mormon jokes I understood because I have a best friend who is of that religion, so while I was laughing at a number that involved coffee (Mormons don’t drink coffee) my parents were a bit confused. It is a funny musical, you just need to be open minded and understand the show is not to be taken seriously.

 

9) Aladdin

I saw this musical on Broadway with the original cast in 2014. It is a great show with excellent music and a magic carpet that will enchant anyone.

Based off the Disney movie of the same name, this musical is about a street rat, Aladdin, who falls in love with a princess named Jasmine. In order to try and win her affections, Aladdin makes a wish to a genie to become a prince.

I grew up watching the Disney movie as a kid and it is still one of my favorites, so seeing the musical live and with the original cast was an experience I will never forget.

10) Annie

Another movie I grew up with. When I was a kid, I would watch the 1982 version all the time. To this day I still believe it is the best of all three movies.

The first time I saw it live, was a performance at my church and it was pretty good. It was not until later I saw it performed by professional actors when it was on tour. It had more humor and an amazing cast.

The story is about a young orphan named Annie who is waiting for her parents to find her. She is sent to billionaire, Oliver Warbucks, and turns his world upside down.