Welcome back Phans to part two of my blog discussing the thirtieth anniversary of the Phantom of the Opera. In part one I discussed the book and the differences between it and it’s many adaptations. In this one, I will be discussing how Andrew Lloyd Webber took the book created by Gaston Leroux and turned it into the longest running production on Broadway; after I pick up where I left off from the previous post.
As mentioned in the previous post, the Phantom has had a lot of remakes and in these re-makings, they tend to add changes from what’s in the book. For one thing, one of the main changes is Erik’s deformity. Typically, they change his deformity to one side of his face, instead of his whole body, that looks sunken in and as if acid has been thrown on him. Also, some of the remakes have music in them while others do not. It has even been turned into a horror film at times, the more famous one would be the one with Robert Englund as the Phantom; aka Freddy Kruger. But perhaps the most famous and well-known adaptions are the 2004 film and Broadway play created by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Webber worked with Charles Hat and Richard Stilgoe to turn the book into a musical. Its first musical appearance was in the year 1986 in London two years before it hit New York’s Broadway. This first performance has the more popular known phantom in it with Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman as Christine. There are about two to three understudies for the top three characters Christine, Raoul, and the Phantom. Each singer sings for only about two or three weeks before rotating out with the understudies, so they may properly rest their vocal chords. Michael Crawford played the phantom for about two and a half years before moving on with his career. Phantom has had many actors throughout the years but the longest ones to play the characters and were a part of the twenty-fifth-anniversary cast were Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom, Sierra Boggess as Christine, and Hadley Fraser as Raoul.
Webber always wanted to turn the musical into a movie since its immediate popularity. The only problem he encountered was trying to find the right actors and singers to play the roles and how to take the music and turn it into a film score. There’s a difference between playing music on stage with a live orchestra and then recording it for a film with a different number of takes. However, Karimloo did have a cameo in the film as Christine’s dying father. In fact, Karimloo is the only actor who has played all three of Christine’s loves; her father, Raoul, and the Phantom. The first planned version of the movie came about in the year 1990. Webber had met the director Joel Schumacher back in the 80s and asked him if he would direct the movie. They started to turn the play into the film in the 90s, but it just didn’t work out but thankfully they stayed friends over the years.
Webber and Schumacher didn’t work on it again until Christmas of 2002. Most of the work went into fixing the music to the film and rewriting some of the lyrics and cutting out scenes from the play that didn’t go with the flow of the film. Webber even wrote three new songs for the movie. These songs included Learn to be lonely, No one would listen, and the score Journey to the cemetery. The song No one would listen didn’t make it in the film but it, however, is a deleted scene you can watch in the DVD extras. Journey to the cemetery was written to fill the gap where Christine takes a coach to see her father’s grave. Originally in the play, there’s no time gap between the masquerade and Christine in the cemetery because of the easy stage change. Learn to be lonely, plays at the end of the film during the credits and is sung by the actress Minnie Driver who plays Carlotta. Driver is a beautiful singer and did exceptionally well playing the comedic role of Carlotta however, Driver didn’t have the vocal range to sing as the very self-centered soprano. Whenever she is “singing” she’s actually lip syncing to the singer Wendy Ferguson, who at the time, played Carlotta in the play. I will continue this post for tomorrow.