“Andrew Lloyd Webber’s fabulous Phantom of the Opera, which opened in a Harold Prince-directed production in London in 1986 and came to New York in 1988, is still running in both cities. The original producer, Cameron Mackintosh, has hired director Laurence Connor and designers Paul Brown and Nina Dunn to reimagine Phantom using its existing book, score, and costumes. Since Mackintosh recently restaged his other megahit, Les Misérables, adding scenery and context, I had high hopes for this effort in its North American premiere.
What they’ve come up with is a production that seems geared for touring to theaters in the provinces with stages smaller than that of the Academy of Music. Action is moved into a narrow area in the center. The Act 2 opener, “Masquerade,” has become a crowded dance floor, and the production eliminates the impressive staircase down which the Phantom used to enter. A small compensation there is the addition of an overhead mirror that reflects the dancers.
Also shrunken is the Phantom’s fog-shrouded boat-ride through his underground lagoon and totally jettisoned is the solitary chair on which the Phantom used to sit during the show’s final minute. (A boy seated behind me asked his father what was going on in that scene. So much for any claim that this version is more accessible to the public.)
The director’s approach for the principal actors, however, is troubling. Cooper Grodin as the Phantom, Ben Jacoby as Raoul, and Julia Udine as Christine Daaé are louder and more abrasive than in the Broadway production. This Phantom holds Christine at a distance instead of wrapping his arms around her and caressing her face in “The Music of the Night.” This change emphasizes the lack of chemistry between Raoul and Christine — scenes that should be tender are played with detachment.
The Phantom here is noticeably youthful, which makes no sense: Madame Giry, the dance mistress who is also the Phantom’s liaison, says that his career already was in progress when she was a youngster. And, of course, he is a father-figure to Christine.
The show remains an example of satisfying musical theater. And thank goodness the original Hal Prince staging is still available to anyone who travels to New York or London.”
—Friend Like Me
Friend Like Me, Aladdin the Musical(March 5, 2014: previews)
While a gay man might casually mention his husband, or a lesbian might out herself by talking about her girlfriend, bisexuals are often wrongly assumed to be straight or gay depending on who they are with. Spelling out that they are bisexual can be misconstrued as rejecting a current partner or declaring themselves up for anything.
Faith Cheltenham, president of the national bisexual organization BiNet USA, was often presumed to be lesbian when she dated women. When she met the man who would become her husband, she worried people would assume she was straight, invalidating the work she did to come out.
But when she tries to correct that assumption, some mistake it as a sexual invitation. They say, “Why would you tell me you’re bi when your husband is right there?” Cheltenham said.