Posted in Phiction Spotlight, The Phantom's Lair

Phiction Spotlight: The Sultan’s Favorite

The Sultan’s Favorite is a book that I’ve known about for years, and I’ve always meant to read it, but I kept putting it off in favor of other Phantom books. I typically favor Erik-Christine books and modern retellings, but at the prompting of many fellow Phans, I finally decided to give this one a read.

I’d heard nothing but great things about it from other Phans, and they were not wrong! I wish I’d read this book much sooner. It has soared to the top of my list of phavorite Phantom books. It’s that good!

Setting

One of the most distinctive aspects about this novel is the setting. It’s set in the dangerous world of the Ottoman Empire. It’s a life-after-the-Paris-Opera-House type of story. Erik has been rejected by Christine. He’s bitter and feels like he’ll never love again, but somehow the will to survive keeps him going. He’s channeled all his passion into his architecture. Can you guess? His masterpiece is to build a beautiful palace for the sultan and his wives.

Alexandria

Speaking of the Sultan’s wives…

Alexandria is the heroine of this book, and if you haven’t guessed it already, she is the sultan’s favorite. The sultan has other wives, but Alexandria becomes his favorite. She is different from the other women in that she is highly intelligent and doesn’t live only to serve the sultan. While she’s not thrilled about being married to a man who has other wives, she’s resigned to do her duty to protect her deceased husband’s empire.

It’s not long before our Phantom finds himself drawn inexplicably to her as well…a dangerous situation indeed.

The Sultan

Part of what is so great about this book is the way the author makes us feel for the sultan too. By all rights, we should hate him. He has more than one wife. Alexandria deserves so much better. Yet the author explains him in such a way that you come to realize how tied he is by his customs. It seems that he truly does love Alexandria, and I must admit that a time or two I even found myself rooting for him. Ironic that the sultan actually has much in common with Erik back in his Phantom days at the Opera Populaire. You’ll see what I mean…

The Phantom

The Phantom…I LOVED how Anne totally got the Phantom’s character. She nailed him. He is moody and irritable. He can be downright mean. Yet underneath his hard exterior is a heart that beats and feels more than anyone knows. This is the Phantom that I look for when I read Phantom books — the one that can make your heart skip beats with his dangerous allure.

A Must-Read

Masterfully woven together, The Sultan’s Favorite is a must-read for all Phantom Phans. It gives us a viable ending to the Phantom’s tale. It’s the sequel that we wish would have really happened.

About the Author

Anne Burnside is the author of this compelling tale. She’s totally down-to-earth and a joy to chat with. If you’d like to learn a bit more about her, check out this interview she did on Blog Talk Radio: All Things Phantom.

Posted in Phiction Spotlight, The Phantom's Lair

Phiction Spotlight: The Master of Illusion Series

So much like the Phantom, and yet he’s not the notorious Phantom of the opera. Still, the child who comes to be known as Angel gleans much inspiration from the much-rumored Phantom of the Paris opera house. From the get-go, you can see some similarities between the classic tale of The Phantom of the Opera and Master of Illusion. Yet, this series is unlike any Phantom of the Opera-inspired series I have read to date—and I mean that in a good way.

In this first novel, we follow the blossoming friendship between a young ballerina, Elise, and Angel, a nameless boy who can’t remember his past. Two kids with a thirst for justice in an imperfect world. Will their noble endeavors land them in trouble, though?

Their story is so vastly different from what we’re used to reading in Phantom-inspired literature. It was like a breath of fresh air. Never could I say the plot was predictable. It kept me on my toes the entire time, for I never knew how things would go or what would happen next. This first book in the series definitely grabs the reader’s attention and establishes a solid foundation for the rest of the series to be paved upon.

This second books delves further into Angel and Elise’s curious relationship. I don’t want to offer spoilers, but I’ll admit that I was always wondering if a romance would blossom between the two. Their lives seem to be so irrevocably entwined no matter what they do. They’ve hurt each other, but can they manage to move past the pain and hold onto their childhood friendship? Could there be more between them?

This third book in the installment was one of my fave’s. Elise’s character has evolved into an exemplary example of womanhood, and Angel has finally learned a few things about his past and himself. He’s found a new reason for living too, but warning! This book is fraught with many tragedies. So many things happen. I know I’m being vague in my review, but I don’t want to give too much away. Let’s just say you might want a box of tissues handy at the end of this one!

I had thought that the third book of the series would be my favorite, but this last one is even better. That is the thing about Rouen’s series. It gets better and better with each book. This one tells the story of a generation or two after our initial characters, and yet somehow Rouen manages to still keep the initial storyline as a central guiding post of the books. Set amidst the turbulent times of WWII in France, this book is one that history buffs will love.

Final Thoughts

This series is expertly tied together. Even though each book is vastly different, they all follow the same central theme and tie back to the first one. Part of what I loved most about these books was how they were written. Rouen has her own unique writing style. It’s charming and witty. Her stories are dialogue-driven in a style that fits the eras she’s writing about.

The author’s love for the French language and culture really shines through in this series, and I appreciated the authenticity in the way she included French turns of phrase.  I actually learned a few that I didn’t know, and any time an enjoyable work of fiction can teach me something too I am always happy. Plus, these books are sprinkled with enough real history that they are made even more believable.

Romance, intrigue, espionage, suspense and even a bit of the supernatural. These books have it all. They’re definitely a recommended read for any Phan who’s craving something different and wants to break away from the typical Phan Phiction mold.

If you’re not already convinced that this series is worth the read, you will be after you consider that the author won awards for it. Anne was the winner of the Global Ebook Awards Silver (2014) & Bronze (2016) Medals for Modern Historical Literary Fiction for this saga. She also won Silver (2018) and Bronze (cover) (2018) awards.

About the Author

Anne Rouen is one of the sweetest, most down-to-earth authors I’ve ever had the pleasure to call my friend. She was beyond patient with me as it took me a while to get this spotlight up due to external commitments. She’s one of the kindest souls you’ll ever connect with, and I sincerely congratulate her on her accomplishments with this series. If you’d like to connect with Anne, you can do so via her Facebook profile, and you can also find out any updates by following her on Amazon. You can also check out her personal website: www.annerouen.com.

Posted in Phiction Spotlight, The Phantom's Lair

Phiction Spotlight: An Unexpected Kindness

An unexpected kindness. Such a beautiful thing. A thing that has the power to totally transform someone’s life.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for some time now, but my to-read list is so long and ever-growing, it kept getting pushed to the back burner. Finally, I said, “No more!” and bumped it up to the top to give it a read, and I was not disappointed.

The title captivated me right off the bat. It was different. Original. It set the theme for the entire book because this book is certainly different and original. It’s not like a lot of Phan phiction out there, and I mean that in a good way.

The Heroine

Our heroine is Madeleine, and she’s blind. Following a series of unfortunate events, she comes to be in the employee of the notorious Phantom of the Opera (who’s currently in love with – or obsessed with, your call – Christine and doing everything he can to woo his young ingenue).

Madeleine is as kind a soul as you’ll ever meet, and she’s wise and practical with a good head on her shoulders. The extra challenges she must face living day to day life as a blind woman immediately endeared me to her and caused me to stand in awe of her strength and bravery.

The Phantom

What I liked about Webster’s version of the Phantom was how it was realistic in his devotion to Christine. When Madeleine first comes into his employ, he is wrapped up with Christine, so much so that he barely even notices Madeleine. You would think he’d be grateful and awed at another person’s willingness to tolerate his existence, but he seems to block out everything but Christine. Fittingly, when Christine rejects his love, he is suitably crushed, and it takes him a while to get over her. That definitely earned this book some points in my eyes because I do so hate it when Erik gets over Christine too quickly. I mean, he devoted his life to tutoring the girl and became obsessed with winning her love. I don’t think it’d be so easy to forget her.

Webster also does a great job of capturing the Phantom’s precarious mental nature. She shows us in one climatic scene in particular just how close he teeters on the brink of madness and delusion. Of course, as the old saying goes, “With great genius sometimes comes madness,” and Erik was a genius if nothing else with his many talents.

The Metaphors

If I had to choose one single thing that I liked most about this book, it would have to be the author’s liberal, witty use of metaphors. Perhaps it is because Madeleine is blind, but her character certainly explains many situations well with metaphorical language. As a reader, I am one who is always delighted when something is explained to me in a new and exciting way that I’d never thought of before. That happened many times throughout this book.

A Beautiful Read

Fresh and wonderfully articulated, this book was a beautiful read. It’s in a league of its own in the Phan phiction realm in that it was so original. I shan’t say more because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I think I’ve given you enough to discern that this is definitely a Phantom book that’s worth the read. I found myself frustrated with Erik at times and my heart aching for Madeleine at others. The fact that the book could evoke such an emotional response from me meant it was a success in my book. Suffice it to say, it’s not one that I think I’ll be forgetting any time soon.

The Author

Mary Webster, much like her heroine, is a kind soul. She’s a true pleasure to chat with, and her writing leaves readers feeling charmed and satisfied. You may connect with Mary via her Facebook account.

In an unexpected kindness (pun intended), when I reached out to Mary asking her permission for me to do this Phiction Spotlight, she instructed me to mention that her book is free on FanFiction.net, stating that, “…in fairness you should also tell people that it’s now available to read free on fanfiction.net” and that “…I care more about getting it read than making money from it.”

As honest as our dear Madeleine, I thought it very noble and thoughtful of her to be willing to share this so that those who don’t have the funds to purchase the book may read it for free here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11803547/1/An-Unexpected-Kindess

Posted in Phiction Spotlight, The Phantom's Lair

Phiction Spotlight: Seductively Ever After Box Set

Seductively Ever After Box Set by Kim Carmichael

This fiction spotlight is of USA Today bestselling author Kim Carmichael’s box set: Seductively Every After. Kim’s books initially qualified for the Phiction Spotlight due to the first book in the series being directly inspired by The Phantom of the Opera, but after reading the others, I am convinced that all Phans would love the entire series.

Kim’s Seductively Ever After series consists of four books:

  • Facade (inspired by The Phantom of the Opera)
  • Fantasy (inspired by Cinderella)
  • Fascination (inspired by Beauty and the Beast)
  • Forever (inspired by The Prince and the Pauper)

The entire series centers around the members of the rock band, Spectre. Each book is the love story of a different band member. Basically, a tragic accident caused by defective pyrotechnics during a concert left all of the band members maimed or scarred in some form or fashion. Each one struggles to regain a sense of normalcy and ultimately finds his salvation is his respective heroine.

Facade

I remember reading Facade before. I loved it the first time I read it, but it’s been a couple of years, so I had forgotten much of what happened. I loved it just as much this time around (if not more so) than I did the first time.

Erik is our Phantom character. He was the lead singer of Spectre until the disaster left half his face disfigured. Consequently, he wears a half mask just like our beloved Phantom from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical. He just so happened to buy a theater and set up living quarters in it.

Christine is, of course, our ingenue. She’s tragically homeless and an orphan to boot. She sings backup in a band that is composed of a guy who seems to be crushing on her a bit (the Raoul character) and a diva lead singer (the Carlotta character).

Their band breaks into Erik’s supposedly deserted theater to rehearse, and Christine ends up seeking shelter there. Captivated by her voice, Erik allows her to stay and becomes her anonymous mentor and protector.

Facade expertly brought The Phantom of the Opera into the modern age in a manner that I could believe. It held to the main theme of our beloved tale while modernizing certain elements to make them relevant to today’s world.

I liked how Erik had that dark, Phantom-y aura, and Christine was young and naive, yet she wasn’t stupid.

Fantasy

Fantasy is the charming tale of two lost souls who find solace together in the wooded area of a piece of land that both are unknowingly tied to together. In this reverse Cinderella story, Nash (who was once the guitarist of Spectre) falls for the heiress to a huge company, but insecure about his limp that was caused by the pyrotechnics disaster, he finds himself hesitant to reveal his true identity to his Petals (the nickname he dubbed his love the first time he saw her; it’s a long story – you’ll have to read it to find out *wink*).

Little does Nash know that Petals totally digs him too, even so much as to fantasize about Knight (what she calls him; again, long story – read to find out) day and night.

Their clandestine meetings in the woods ultimately culminate into passion that could change their lives irrevocably if they only have the courage to reveal their true selves to one another.

As much as I loved Facade, I really loved this book too. I loved the fairy tale-esque vibe to Knight and Petals’s story in this reverse Cinderella story brought into the modern age. Both trapped by something, they found freedom in each other even when they didn’t know each other’s names. Poignant and such a striking metaphor that really brought to light the different between knowing someone’s surface identity and knowing someone’s soul. Does a name really matter so much once you know the true being within?

Fascination

This third book in the Seductively Ever After series had to be one of my very faves. About Upton, the drummer of Spectre, this one expertly crafts us a modern Beauty and the Beast that we can totally fall in love with.

Upton was horribly burned in the disaster during the band’s last concert. Rather than wear a mask to cover his scars, though, Upton chooses to simply become a recluse, holing himself up in his mansion and shutting out the daylight. He throws himself into work and generally becomes a beast to everyone. He seems pretty taciturn and bitter – until a beauty shows up who might be able to thaw his frozen heart.

Alaine is our Belle, and she’s as beautiful as she is kind-hearted. To save her father’s floundering publishing business, she agrees to live for one year with the person who holds the deed to their property and write a biography of his life in exchange for all her father’s debts forgiven and the deed to their property, and that beast is none other than (yes, you guessed it) Upton.

Part of what I loved about Upton was that he was a great Beast character, but yet he was also a great Phantom character as well. He was kind of like a mixture of the brooding Phantom and stubborn Beast, and I loved his darkness, which only made it that much more interesting when Alaine attempted to bring him into the light.

Fantasy

Oh gosh. I want to tell y’all about Forever so bad, but I’m not going to write anything about it for fear of providing you with spoilers that will affect your reading of the previous three books. All I will say is that this book was inspired by Mark Twain’s beloved tale, The Prince and the Pauper, and that each book in this series got better and better and that after reading this book, you’ll probably have the insane urge to be a glorified fish sitter. (Trust me. It’ll all make sense when you read the book.)

I never thought I’d like one of the books that was inspired by a tale other than The Phantom of the Opera more than that one, but I have to admit that I liked each book a little more than the previous one in this series. Kim’s stories just got better and better as the series went along, and I would be hard pressed to choose my favorite book among this series.

About the Author

Kim Carmichael is one of the most personable authors I’ve ever had the pleasure of connecting with. She’s real. She’s raw. She’s down to earth. She’s a USA Today bestselling author and without even having read all of her books, I would recommend any of them based on this series alone. I’m excited to see what else lies in store for Kim throughout her writing career and look forward to reading many more of her books.

To learn more about Kim or find out more about all the works she’s published, you can follow her on Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, BookBub or Facebook. You can also explore Kim’s author site at www.kimcarmichaelauthor.com/

Posted in Phiction Spotlight, The Phantom's Lair

Phiction Spotlight: The Most Dangerous Dream: Leroux’s Phantom Reimagined

The Most Dangerous Dream by Kelsey Brickl is one of the best Phantom retellings I’ve had the pleasure of reading. “Leroux’s Phantom Reimagined” is a perfect description of it because that is exactly what it is.

Brickl’s book starts off in the Opera Populaire just as the original novel does, but instead of taking the exact same turns that the original novel does, The Most Dangerous Dream takes a few unexpected twists and spins – dare we say better twists and spins than the original? Not to dishonor the memory of Leroux, but I quite enjoyed this reimagined version of the classic tale.

The Story

Without giving too much away, I’ll say that this is one for the Erik/Christine lovers. If you’ve always wanted to see Erik get the girl, then this is the read for you. Erik does a couple of key things differently in this book that make it plausible to believe that Christine was able to return his affections. Raoul gets his shot, but pretty boy can’t hold a candle to her mysterious, darkly alluring Angel of Music.

Unfortunately, a chance encounter with Meg puts everything in jeopardy, causing Erik and Christine to flee the Paris Garnier, leaving behind their lives there to build a new one in…Argentina of all places. Don’t cry for me, Argentina… (I’m sorry. I always break into that song from Evita when I hear “Argentina.” LOL)

I’m not going to reveal any more of the plot at this point. I’ll just say that it’s an exhilarating read that will leave you needing a box of tissues handy at the end of it.

The Characters

Of course, we have Erik (The Phantom) and Christine. Meg, Raoul, Madame Giry and even the Daroga play their own little parts in Brickl’s reimagining. I love the liberties the author took with the characters. For instance, Christine is still innocent and naive, but she isn’t stupid. She can indeed have a backbone when she needs one. That was a nice change for this reimagining because Christine, bless her heart, I love her dearly, but I usually find myself wanting to scream at her, “Stand up for yourself every once in a while, will you?” I didn’t have to do this in Brickl’s book. Don’t misunderstand. Christine is still a kind, gentle soul, but she doesn’t let Erik walk all over her either.

Speaking of Erik…I love how Brickl really captured what I call “my” Erik. The way I imagine the Phantom is dark and dangerous to the world but not to Christine. He’s got a temper, and he’s a strong, dominant male. Too many authors want to turn Erik into a lovesick pup (“He’s the Phantom of the Opera, for God’s sake,” I always want to scream.), but Brickl doesn’t do that. She works with Erik’s flawed, broken character to illustrate his humanity in a way that leaves the reader understanding and even sympathizing with him.

Monsieur Lefevre gets a larger role in Brickl’s reimaging, which I also liked. I like it when authors use characters that previously didn’t receive much love and explore them more. There are also a few new characters introduced to the plot. I won’t spoil them for you. You’ll meet them soon enough. *wink*

The Verdict

Overall, this book is very well-written. Sometimes it’s hard to find Phantom books that use proper grammar, punctuation and so on, but Brickl is obviously a good writer. She weaves plenty of facts into her fiction. She also has some great symbolism and uses witty metaphors in her writing that make it that much more fun to read. What is the most dangerous dream? You’ll have to read her book to find out…

About the Author

From Amazon:

Kelsey Brickl is a wife, mother, language enthusiast, travel addict, and unabashed history nerd. She is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College in Indiana, where she studied history and received the Blecka-Zatko Award for Excellence in Senior Composition. She is also a graduate of the Keough-Naughton Institute at the University of Notre Dame, where she studied Irish Language and Literature and Irish Studies. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, son, and two cats.

From me:

Kelsey is one of the most down-to-earth authors you’ll ever have the pleasure of chatting with. She’s personable, friendly, and humble. I want to thank her for allowing me to do this Phiction Spotlight and wish her luck in all her future writing endeavors.

To learn more about Kelsey or her other books or to contact her, visit her author website: kelseybrickl.com/

Posted in Miscellaneous Phantom, The Phantom's Lair

The Phantom of the Opera US Tour: Reimagined or Ruined?

phantom-544

As most Phans know, there have been many changes to the US tour production of The Phantom of the Opera. No longer does the same version that’s shown on Broadway (thank God the original is still shown on Broadway) and that was originally designed by Maria Bjornson tour across the United States. Yes, it’s the same music, and the storyline is pretty much the same, but there have been some tweaks to some wording, movements, the set and so on.

Some Phans love the changes. Others hate it. I saw some YouTube videos of the changes and wasn’t too impressed with them. In fact, I hated them. Still, I was reserving my final verdict until I saw the “reimagined” version myself.

I bought my tickets months in advance when I found out the show was coming to TPAC in Nashville. In fact, I bought them the day they went on sale. I splurged and got front-row tickets for the 8 o’clock show for Friday night, November 2nd, 2018, so that I could see everything in minute detail. I looked forward to the day of the show with mixed feelings of anticipation and curious trepidation. I was excited because yay, it’s Phantom, but I was also cautious, wondering what to expect – if I would still leave the theater with that same sense of amazement I’d become accustomed to when seeing the show performed live.

The Verdict

I really liked the show. Of course, it had Andrew Lloyd Webber’s beautiful Phantom of the Opera score, so that immediately makes me really like it. The set was impressive, and all the performers had great voices.

However…

I cannot say that I just loved the show. It was a bit of a let-down for me. When I go to see the musical that I love most in the world, I should come out of the theater saying, “Wow! I loved it!” I couldn’t really do that this time. Sure, I liked it. I’ll even go so far as to say I really liked it, but I wasn’t just wowed, blown away, if you know what I mean?

I still had mixed feelings. Why did I feel this way? Because there were some changes that were okay and others that I absolutely hated.

What I Loved

I did love the new opulence of the managers’ office. That was quite a nice touch and really made their scenes come alive.

I also loved the way they made it appear as if it was actually snowing during the rooftop scene.

I loved the way we learned a bit more about the Phantom’s history with the gypsies from Raoul’s conversation with Madame Giry. (However, I didn’t like how she called him a monster because I’d always believed Madame Giry took pity on him and saw him as a genius.)

I loved Carlotta (played by Trista Moldovan). Her expressions were great. She was funny and played the diva perfectly. I also loved Piangi (played by Phumzile Sojola). He was a loveable character too.

Actually, these are really the only things that I totally loved about the reimagined production.

What I Hated

Get ready because this list will be way longer. Lol.

The Wigs

Okay, first of all, I absolutely hated the wigs. I know it seems like such a little thing, but to me, it’s one of those little things that makes a huge difference.

Let’s start with the Phantom. I do not like the messy wig with the hair that falls in his eyes. Yeah, I know that hair falling over a man’s forehead on one side is typically seen as sexy, but it doesn’t work for the Phantom. It simply doesn’t. He was soooo meticulous in his appearance. After being trapped in a dirty cage when he was imprisoned by the gypsies, it’s really not believable that he’d allow his wig to be anything less than meticulous either. I like the traditional slicked back wig. That makes him look more put-together and presents that powerful front that I believe the Phantom needed to present to enter his Phantom persona.

Next, are the girls’ wigs, Christine’s wig especially. What is up with the really loose curls and that half-bun updo? It looked horrible and totally was not in keeping with the Victorian era. I like the original wigs where the ballet dancers, including Christine, had those really long, down to their waist, ringlets. Perfect and pretty and no ugly half bun on their heads. Christine’s especially was bad because it was frizzy and just looked a mess. They modernized the wigs too much to make it look like the kind of hair that girls have today, but it’s important to remember that this story took place in the Victorian era – not in today’s world.

The Costumes

Some of the costumes were okay, but then others looked like something I would expect to see out of a high school or college production. The Phantom’s iconic Red Death costume, for instance. It was a lamentable mess. They tried too hard to reference the Red Death costume from the 2004 film, and it just ended up looking cheap to me.

Christine’s masquerade dress was also a bit lackluster. It seemed like it was missing some of the glitter, stars and other finer details that made it the beautiful costume that it’s known to be. Plus, she wasn’t wearing her beautiful masquerade boots, but rather, these little pink high heels.

The Set

I’ve got this listed under the what I hate section, but I really didn’t hate all these elements. Rather, I favored the original version more.

The masquerade scene. The masquerade scene was impressive. They did make it look like the convincing interior of the Paris Garnier. However, I miss the huge staircase that the performers danced down. It made a much bigger impact to me than the new set. The choreography was amazing when all the performers as an entire company danced down the steps in perfect synchronization. However, I will say that the end of the masquerade scene when the Phantom appears did make it possible for them to make a reference to the Phantom’s mirror torture chamber that the musical originally didn’t do.

The journey to the lair scene. I’ll admit. It was pretty cool how the steps came out of the huge revolving set and made it look like the Phantom was really leading Christine down the stairs of the Paris Opera House. And there was a boat. However, I really missed the candelabras coming up out of the floor and the misty lake complete with the portcullis. To me, that was one of the most magical scenes, but without those magic candelabras, the effect is rather lackluster.

The lair itself. The lair itself probably looked a bit more realistically like what the Phantom’s lair would have looked like. It had a real bed, a few candles, the organ, a stand of sheet music and other typical bedroom accessories. However, I missed that original look of the swan bed and because there was not portcullis, the final lair scene with the Phantom tying Raoul up was totally different. Plus, the Phantom is missing his iconic black throne chair, so that totally made the final lair scene different too.

The rooftop. The rooftop was changed to feature an impressive stature supposed to be Apollo’s Lyre, but I favor the original rooftop. Part of the reason for this is because I always loved how when the Phantom sings his reprise to All I Ask of You, he was on the beautiful golden angel that graced the top of the stage curtain. He’s not in this US Tour version. Instead, he’s on this statue on the stage. It’s not as powerful to me that way.

The graveyard scene. I don’t like the new Daae grave. I miss the old graveyard where the Phantom stood atop the mausoleum like a supernatural being and issued fire. Here, he was ground level prowling around the back of the grave.

Acting Changes

This is one of the most important sections for me because this directly affects the storyline. There weren’t a ton of acting changes, but there were enough that it affected and annoyed me.

First of all, I hate how much the Phantom manhandles Christine. It makes me think he’s abusive. Erik loved Christine and wouldn’t have physically hurt her that much had he been in his right mind. In the original production, he doesn’t throw her on the bed or violently push her down so much. It makes him out to be more of a villain than a sympathetic character, in my opinion.

I’m not crazy about how Christine doesn’t get to faint at the end of The Music of the Night. However, the Phantom does pick her up and carry her over to the bed and place her on it before she gently falls off to sleep, so that was okay.

I’m not crazy about the changes to Christine’s Think of Me aria. She usually dances around with a scarf the whole time. Now she doesn’t have the scarf for the first half of the song. A couple of ballet dancers come out mid-way and hand it to her and then dance in the background while she continues singing. The added ballet dancers are okay, but the omission of Christine’s normal dance routine with the scarf throughout the entirety of the song was annoying. The first half she’s just kind standing there singing with her arms looking odd not moving much.

The unmasking scene. Oh dear, the unmasking scene. Instead of Christine pulling his mask off, the Phantom already has his mask off while she’s sleeping. He doesn’t know she’s awakened, and she sneaks up and grabs it where it’s laying and runs off with it like a silly child. In doing so, she sees his face of course, which leads to disaster, but I so hated that change. In the original, he’d been playing his music, and she pulls it off from behind like she’s possibly entranced or hypnotized by his music or something. In this version, that is not a possibility. She was just a brat.

Speaking of Christine, her character just seemed a bit off to me. The actress was Emma Grimsley and her voice was great. However, the character in general (possibly because of all the changes) was annoying. Usually when I watch Phantom I feel that Christine did actually love him and she was afraid of that love. I didn’t get that this time. Rather, it was clear (especially in The Point of No Return by the way she noticeably nodded to Raoul and the gendarmes) that she was in complete control of her faculties and betraying the Phantom, that she was frightened of him and harbored no feelings of love. You couldn’t argue that she was under his hypnotic spell in this point of no return scene because she’s clearly just carrying out Raoul and the managers’ plan.

To take the matter further, she doesn’t even have the decency to hand him back his ring at the end of the final lair scene. That was always one of the most heartbreaking parts to me – when she gave him back the ring and he took it from her hand and held on to her hand as long as he could until she broke away and ran off crying. That didn’t happen in this one. She kind of sneaks up behind him with Raoul and watches him singing, Christine, I lo-o-ove you, and lays the ring on his organ and walks off with Raoul – no tears, nothing.

Speaking of tears, that was one of my biggest problems with this Phantom. Quentin Oliver Lee played the Phantom, and his voice was great, but it wasn’t quite dark enough for my taste. That being said, I think he did really well, but I didn’t like the way he didn’t exhibit the crying and brokenness that I expect from the Phantom after Christine chooses Raoul.

As far as Raoul goes, I wasn’t impressed with how pompous and arrogant his character was. Raoul is supposed to be sweet and kind of like a puppy dog. He seemed a little too smug for my taste in this version, especially when he supposedly punched the Phantom in the graveyard scene. Come on, really? Do you really think the Phantom would have allowed Raoul to get close enough to him to punch him? That part was totally unbelievable and laughable. The Phantom was agile and great at disappearing when he wanted to. To allow Raoul to appear to best him was insulting to his character.

There was a point where Christine even slapped Raoul. I had mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, I’m like, “You go, Christine. Stand up for yourself.” On the other, it seemed so out of character for Christine’s young, naive, sweet little disposition.

And even more about Christine…her point of no return…she gets up on the table and is dancing during her part of the song. She looks like a stripper or something, and it was just totally bizarre. I liked the original choreography better where she’s standing behind the Phantom and their fingers entwine and rub along his body. It’s much more sensual to me that way. This way was just kind of trashy looking and, again, seemed totally out of character for Christine.

I mentioned before how the lair was missing the black throne, so naturally the Phantom doesn’t disappear that way. Instead, Meg grabs his standing cloak and he’s gone, his mask on the floor. It wasn’t too bad a change, but I missed the throne. It totally affected the Phantom’s performance in the final lair scene. I liked the way he used to sit on the throne in his anger.

Word Changes

There weren’t too many very noticeable word changes in the songs. The only one I really noticed was in Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again. Instead of singing

Passing bells and sculpted angels
Cold and monumental
Seem for you the wrong companions
You were warm and gentle”

Christine sings

“Three long years I knelt in silence
Held your memory near me
Three long years of murmured sorrows
Willing you to hear me”

This word change doesn’t really bug me too much. However, it does make Christine more assertive in her realization that her father let her down, which could also be seen as a bit out of character for her.

Why the Changes?

Like many Phans, I wondered why would they change something that’s been doing so well for 30 years now. In short, I think they wanted to “reimagine” it for a modern audience and appeal to all those Phans of the 2004 film more. Many of the new changes made me think of the film, and while I’m a huge fan of the film, I didn’t like seeing all those changes to what I’d come to love about the stage version.

Also, I bought a souvenir program (of course), and it stated in there that they were seeking a set and props that would be more practical for touring. I had heard of many technical malfunctions with the original boat and the candelabras during previous tours, so maybe some of these changes were done to help eliminate the possibility of that kind of stuff happening as much.

As far as some of the choreography changes, maybe some of that is due to the stress that it puts on the performers. Maybe some things were simplified to make it easier on them. That’s just my speculation, though.

Overall Impression

Again, even after writing all that out, I can say that I really liked the production. I still got tingles when the overture came on. The music and lyrics were still amazingly beautiful. However, I didn’t get tears in my eyes during the final lair scene, and if asked who my favorite character was, I’d have to say Carlotta. Those two facts alone let me know that something is wrong (for me anyway).

I will admit that I do think I’m just spoiled to the original version and the Vegas version. My dad (who isn’t really into musical theater) and grandmother (who’d never seen Phantom) both loved it, so ultimately the show must have done what it was supposed to do. We had great seats too and could see everything in exquisite detail, so that certainly didn’t harm anything. I also think that had I not already been acquainted with the former version, I would have loved this one. As it is, I am very glad I got to see it. The performance was great, even if it wasn’t what I expected, but I do miss the original version and wish that the US Tour would go back to the way it was.

Have you seen the reimagined US Tour? If so, what are your thoughts?

Posted in Phantom Phridays, The Phantom's Lair

Phantom Phriday – The Phantom’s Hideout

We’ve all experienced the despair as Phans of not having enough people around us who want to talk all things Phantom 24/7. Nothing is more disheartening than when you make a witty Phantom reference and your “normal” friends look at you blankly. Sometimes we just need to be with some of our own kind – you know, the ones who get our love for The Phantom of the Opera. There’s a special place for Phans like us: THE PHANTOM’S HIDEOUT.

THE PHANTOM’S HIDEOUT is a group on Facebook that welcomes all Phantom Phans. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fan of the 2004 film or a Phan of the original novel or any other adaptation. All adaptations are welcome.

My friend, Lisa Gomez, created the group as a place for Phans to hang out and share pictures, videos, books and other content related to the tale. It’s also a great place to simply start up a random discussion, such as why you think a certain scene went the way it did or why certain characters are the way that they are.

I have learned about so many other adaptations, actors, actresses and much more from this group alone. While I’m not always as active as I’d like to be in it due to time constraints, it’s always a fun place to drop in on when I have a bit of free time and am feeling Phantomy.

Of course, there are plenty of other great groups dedicated to The Phantom of the Opera on Facebook. I just chose to highlight this one today since it’s my personal favorite, and I invite you to join us in our group if you enjoy all things Phantom.  We have such fun there, and I guarantee you will learn something you didn’t know at some point or another while hanging out in there.

What are some of your favorite Phantom Facebook groups?

*Always remember to read the rules and guidelines for participation in a group upon joining. Most groups at least demand that you respect other members’ opinions and not engage in any bullying or hate speech. Violation of a group’s terms can get you placed on probation or thrown out of the group altogether.*

Posted in Phantom Phridays, The Phantom's Lair

Phantom Phriday – Phantom Word Search

For today’s Phantom Phriday, I made us a little something fun to do: a word search. Well, if you’re a nerd like me, then word searches are fun. Lol. I’ve always loved doing them – ever since I was a little girl – so I thought it’d be fun to create us a Phantom of the Opera-inspired one.

Click on the image below, and then click your computer’s “Print” button to print it out.

Feel free to post pictures of your finished word search in the comments below. Happy searching!

Posted in Phantom Phridays, The Phantom's Lair

Phantom Phriday – Love Never Dies: Yay or Nay?

As any Phan knows, Love Never Dies is the sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. While all Phans love the original Phantom, we seem to stand divided on thoughts about LND. There are those of us who love it and those of us who hate it.

Then there are those Phans like me who are kind of in the middle ground. Let me explain. While I find the storyline for LND totally ridiculous, I absolutely love the music (all except for that ridiculous Bathing Beauty. I mean, come on, guys. Can you really see the Phantom, a musical genius, dumbing down his art, his precious music, to write such a silly song? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Lol.)

Not to mention that PHANTASTIC set! I had the pleasure of seeing LND at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, also simply referred to by us TN natives as TPAC, in Nashville, and let me tell you. It was so amazing! The props were out of this world and looked really impressive up on stage. The performance was truly one of the best that I’d ever been to – despite my qualms with the storyline.

So I’m interested in how many of my blog followers are Phans of LND. Please cast you votes in the poll below.

Also, have you seen the show performed live? If so, please feel free to share your experiences below in the comments.

Have a PHANTASTIC Phriday!

Posted in Phantom Phridays, The Phantom's Lair

Phantom Phriday – The Phantom’s Lair Jewelry Collection by Saturdaychic

For today’s Phantom Phriday, I chose to spotlight one of my fave Phantom shops. It’s an Etsy shop where cartoonist Stephanie Piro (a.k.a. saturdaychic) showcases her love for The Phantom of the Opera by creating beautiful POTO-inspired jewelry.

Quality Craftsmanship

Every Phangirl needs a piece of Phantom jewelry to wear, and Stephanie’s creations are not only beautiful, but they are high-quality, handcrafted pieces that hold up. Nothing is more irritating to me than buying a piece of jewelry only to have all the charms fall off or the chain break. Stephanie’s jewelry doesn’t do that. She makes it all with quality materials, and her creations are unique.

Unique Pieces

When you get a piece of jewelry from Stephanie, oftentimes it’s an original creation with no others like it out there. On occasion, she will make more than one of a popular piece, and you can solicit commissions from her. A word of advice, though: there’s only one Stephanie, so if you want to commission a piece as a gift for Christmas or an upcoming holiday, put your order in early so that she has time to get them made and shipped out to you by the day you want them.

I have several pieces from Stephanie. The first one I got by winning a Valentine’s Day contest she ran. Stephanie’s shop is fun in that she occasionally does giveaways and hosts interactive activities to get her customers involved. I loved the first piece so much that I bought one, and then I was gifted some by friends. Below are a few pics of some of the pieces I have from Stephanie’s collection. I love the way she packages them, by the way. They always come in these pretty little bags and boxes tied with POTO-themed ribbons. Stephanie’s business card is always super cute too.

Check out Stephanie’s Etsy shop here:

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While I’m featuring the Phantom aspect of her shop, she also has other stuff too sometimes. If you’re interested in something for another fandom or anything, just shoot Stephanie a message, and I’m sure she’d be happy to work with you.

Here’s Stephanie’s blog if you want to follow her for news and updates on any contests and giveaways:

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Have you bought any jewelry from Stephanie’s Etsy shop? If so, please share your experiences and/or pics below.