The Phantom of the Opera
Yesterday afternoon, Prairie and I got a call from her sister H offering us tickets to the closing night show of The Phantom of the Opera at the Paramount. She’d gotten sick earlier in the day and just wasn’t up to going out, so she and P decided to see if we wanted to go. We, of course, were happy to take them (after passing on our sympathies, of course), and headed out for an unexpected but not unwelcome night out at the theater.
I’ve grown up with Phantom, from having the soundtrack nearly as long as I can remember to owning the behind-the-scenes book The Complete Phantom of the Opera to having performed a few of the numbers during my days in the Anchorage Children’s Choir, and this was my second time seeing the show. While not unfamiliar with the show — its nearly impossible to have an interest in modern theater culture and not know about Phantom — this was Prairie’s first opportunity to see it on stage.
The show itself, while enjoyable for the spectacle, wasn’t at all a great show. The performances were good, though I wouldn’t really rate them much better than that, and much of the spectacle felt a little rushed, like you didn’t really have time to appreciate the moment before being whisked off to the next scene. There were no flubs, it certainly wasn’t a bad performance, and we both enjoyed the grandeur of the whole thing. It just wasn’t stellar.
Additionally, we’re curious if we might be more appreciative of the less-expensive balcony seats for our next show at the Paramount. Each time we’ve gone to a show and splurged for floor seats, the sound mix in the theater has been surprisingly bad, with the actors overly loud compared to the music and many of the group numbers turning into a muddled, unintelligible mess. We don’t remember having this issue when we’ve seen shows from the balcony, though, so we’re curious if the acoustics in the Paramount happen to favor the balcony. For our next show, we’re going to stay away from the floor and see what we think.
Lastly, two points that I’ve touched on before but that, unfortunately, still need to be addressed (and, realistically, probably aren’t going to change in the foreseeable future):
It’s truly distressing how few people think of theater as Theater (with a capital ‘t’). Both Prairie and I were brought up to see a night out at a show as something special. It’s not something that happens every day (or even every week or month), and so it’s not something to be taken completely casually. It is something that should be dressed for: I’d argue for good business work clothes at the minimum, if you’re not actually going to take the time to dress up. Above all, jeans and t-shirts? Not acceptable!
The crowd at last nights show, admittedly, was a bit better than we’ve seen at other shows in the past. That said, I still hold that ratty jeans and tracksuits should be unacceptable at the theater.
One last thing: a standing ovation should be given for extraordinarily good performances. Not for every performance you happen to be at. Not for slightly above average performances. And certainly not for performances with flubbed lines, broken props, and bad sound. I’ve noticed this trend a lot lately, where it’s more rare to be at a performance that doesn’t get a standing ovation than to be at a performance that does. That’s really not how this is supposed to work, folks. A standing ovation is something special, to be reserved for those truly stand-out performances, not used for every performance you bother to attend.
Prairie and I just sat in our seats last night. The people around us probably thought we were being rude (ironic, given that I had to shoot the twit on my left a few glares when she started singing along with the show), but it just wasn’t an ovation-worthy performance. Good, yes; worthy of applause and appreciation, yes; worthy of a whoopin’ and hollerin’ standing ovation? Certainly not.