Phantom, Housing Choices, and Midterms

I know. You’re all wondering where my “Two Minute Recap” video is, and why I haven’t updated in almost a week.

First, I’d like to apologize in advance for my isolation. I’ve been working very hard on my classes for this semester, and I can’t tell you how wonderful spring break sounds to me right now. When you’re enrolled in four reading-based classes, you know you’re in for a long ride.

I’m taking a break from the insane amount of reading I’ve been doing today to write to all of you about some things that have been going on in my life.

My first announcement? I went to see The Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic on Friday with a childhood friend of mine, Evelyn-Rose. She and her mother were in town this weekend because Evelyn-Rose had an audition at Pace University for their directing and theatre program, so they decided to call me up and see if I’d be interested in going which, of course, I was.

After showing them around my dorm so Evelyn-Rose could get an idea of the type of lifestyle at campuses in New York City, we went to eat at Otto Pizzeria near Washington Square Park (a recommendation made by my roommate, Mara). And, I have to say, even though we acted like complete tourists, we had a good time. Until we realized it was almost 7:30 (the show started at 8) and we hadn’t even gotten the check.

We practically ran out after paying and made our way to the nearest subway station. Long story short? We made it to the theatre (after a lot of running in heels) just in time for last call. By the time Evelyn-Rose and I made it to our seats and took in the opening set, the lights had begun to dim.

I wish I had the time, the patience, and the interested audience to launch into a full-detail description of the experience. Unfortunately, I realize that I am not a theatre critic and you, my lovely followers, are not interested in hearing a play-by-play of a show you may never have seen before.

But, for those of you who do have a basic background knowledge of Phantom, let me give you a few brief opinions that I walked away with after the curtains fell at the end of the show; just in case any of you decide to purchase tickets to see this particular cast.

As a preface, the set, music, props, and effects were, for the most part, amazing and on par. The chandelier rising and falling was incredible (especially from the 5th row), and the make-up and costumes were impressive, even for someone who’s seen the show well over four dozen times (my personal favorite version includes Ramin Karimloo as Phantom, Hadley Fraser as Raoul, and Sierra Boggess as Christine in the 25th Anniversary Version at the Royal Albert Hall).

That being said, I have to be honest. Of the three main characters, for the first time ever, I preferred Raoul to the other two. While the Phantom’s voice was amazing, Raoul was entirely the most likable character. I wasn’t in love with Christine’s voice (maybe because I’m used to Sierra), but I also wasn’t in love with the way her character was portrayed. In my mind, Christine is a lost young woman looking for some kind of guidance and acceptance. I suppose you could even play her off as naive. But the one thing Christine is not? Independent and strong. While I think all women should be, the biggest character flaw in the lead of Phantom is her crushingly apparent willingness to follow someone else rather than make her own decisions.

The woman who played Christine played her off as an independent-minded, frustrated, and even angry character, who almost never interacted with the Phantom unless she was in a “trance” (almost as if her fascination with the Phantom was only through hypnotism and never because of a sense of guilt or pity). This may also have been a director’s decision; it isn’t fair to simply blame the actress.

In the 25th Anniversary version, Hadley Fraser plays Raoul as an almost mean character, who gets very easily frustrated with Christine’s constant fear and neediness. This makes the Phantom all the most likable and, though it makes me angry with Raoul, it also makes my heart burn for the Phantom that much more. However, in this version, Raoul was so likable and the Phantom so utterly unlikable (at least, by the way Christine treated him when in her “right mind”) that the ending was inevitable. The Phantom seemed more like an obstacle to overcome than a serious emotional struggle.

That all being said, there were two moments that I really appreciated. The first was when Christine removed his mask during “I Remember…” (the song after “Music of the Night”). The Phantom was so desperate to cover his face that he literally had one hand shielding himself as he used the other to pitifully army-crawl toward Christine, as which point he began to sing about fear turning into love. When he dared to take his hand away to let her see his face, Christine turned and shielded herself as if she’d been burned. The Phantom then fell to the ground crying and finished his phrase with, “Oh, Christine.”

The second was at the very end of the show. Christine returned to give the Phantom his ring and, as always, he held her hand and sang, “Christine, I love you.” Then Christine ran offstage and back to Raoul. Usually, this is where their interaction ends. Instead, the Phantom continued to say, “I love you”, two or three times in this broken voice, as if he didn’t understand why loving her wasn’t enough to make her stay. I literally just wanted to cry.

And then the show ended. So, despite my misgivings, I really did enjoy myself. It was fun playing detective when certain special effects took place onstage, and it was an amazing overall experience that I wouldn’t trade for any other Broadway production.

Next up? Probably Les Miserables with Ramin Karimloo.

So what else has been going on in my life?

Well, I have to make my housing decisions tonight. I’ve spent so much time pouring over the opinions of my family, friends, and classmates, and I think I’ve finally reached a conclusion. I’ll try to spare you all of the details and reasoning behind my decision, but here are my top three housing choices:

1.) Palladium. It’s familiar, it’s central, and it has everything that I need within the building, including practice rooms with pianos and a dining hall. It’s also only a ten minute walk to campus, is located on the East Side, and offers Choice Housing which, if the application is set up the way I’m hoping it is, will allow me to live on a floor of the building that is both drug and alcohol free.

2.) Coral Towers. It also offers Choice Housing, which is probably going to be my pre-requisite for housing, and it has nice rooms. Not to mention the location is extremely close to where I already am, so I’ll be familiar with the area and close to all of the necessities.

3.) Gramercy Green. I absolutely can’t resist the microwaves, dishwashers, and laundry on every other floor. The location is also extremely close to Times Square, and I’ll be able to take two different buses back and forth to campus for free. If I can’t live in Choice Housing and I can’t live in Palladium, I might as well live in something beautiful.

I’ve also decided not to get a single room and to brave it out. I’ll still most likely be decreasing my meal plan to save money, but I’m going to man-up and share a room. If I’m in Choice Housing, I’ll probably have a quiet roommate. And, since I’ll be leaving (hopefully!) my spring semester to go to DC, I might even be doing my roommate a favor by giving them their own room for a semester.

And, finally, the reason you haven’t gotten a video this weekend: Midterms. I’ve had so much reading, studying, and writing to do that I’ve been in over my head for a few weeks now. On the weekends, I read, read, read, study, study, write, and then die. And that’s pretty much what I’ll be doing tonight. And then the week starts and I get to do it all over again.

But, luckily, I’ll only be doing it for about ten days. Because I get on a bus to go home on March 11th for spring break, and I can’t tell you how beautiful that sounds.


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