Written for the Phantom Phantasia Website
When I was living near Reno, this version of Phantom came to town, and I was able to see it twice. Needless to say, I was shocked. I had not seen Lloyd Webber's version yet, but I certainly knew the difference! Hill wanted a more comic version and insisted that it could work with drama. It does to a point. I can see where comedy with the magagers of Opera company would fit in - e.g., how they would react to the Phantom's demands, but what digusted me was that Hill also placed comic elements that are very vulgar in areas that I consider to be very serious! For instance, in the "marriage scene" at the end, Hill introduces a defrocked priest and his mistress - it is THIS priest that is supposed to do the honours! First of all, this is not at all in keeping with Leroux! (I like to stick with the original story.) In the novel, Erik wished to have a solemn ceremony in a church, not one carried out in a vulgar manner like this! Also, it proves rather offensive to those of the Catholic religion and descredits the work done by priests faithful to their vocation.
Also, the Phantom and the Persian in this show are supposed to be brothers, and their parents were circus performers! Erik is supposed to have killed them by greasing their trapeze rope...This again is a corruption from the original story! Erik's parents were of the wealthy middle class, and in the novel there is evidence that he did love them very much, he certainly did not kill them! And the Persian is his friend, not his brother. Such treatments of the orignal story are an actual shame, as the rest of the show stays very close to the novel in other areas - such as the idea of the torture chamber, and Erik actually rows the boat, and at least the ornamental grasshopper is mentioned. Also, the scenry in some places was very good, such as the graveyard. Most of all, the music in it is stunning! This version would have fared better in my books had Hill been a little more discreet with his comic elements.