Music Rewind welcomes Kelli Willard to discuss: The Phantom of the Opera, Highlights from the West End Original Cast Recording.
A self-proclaimed theater nerd, Kelli tells us how this album helped shape her musical taste across all genres, and is forever chasing that special feeling only great art can give you.
Album: The Phantom of the Opera (Highlights) Artist: West End Original Cast, Andrew Lloyd Webber Year: 1987
Transcript as follows:
Hello and welcome to Music Rewind, a podcast where we look to tell the stories behind our favorite albums. I'm your host, Steve Epley, and in each episode, I will invite a guest to tell us about their favorite favorite music album, how they discovered it, and what makes it special to them. Joining me today is an old friend through some work connections, Kelly Willard. Kelly is a licensed therapist and mother of two amazing kids. She's also the wife of my former boss, and I am also legally obligated to quote her as saying she enjoys knowing quote my really cool wife, Michelle. Welcome, Kelly, and thank you for being on the show. I've been looking forward to this. Thank you for having me. Yeah, I was really curious to get your insight into your music taste because I know you've got some interesting ones that are a bit against the grain of other guests on this show. So I want to get as many different perspectives as I can. So this is going to be a great conversation. I'll be the first to admit that I've never been super cool in my musical taste because they have always been very musical focused and I am a true orchestra chorus type nerd. But I love Broadway, and so kudos to you. Whenever I go on a ranch, on Facebook or something, I can always count on you to chime in with some meaningful insight, and I appreciate the support. Well, I may not be a theater nerd to your level. However, I will say that I am a theater enthusiast. I do love a good musical. I love a good play. I've seen many. There's just something about seeing a good musical on stage. I've seen bad ones on stage, of course, and a bad one can you make you just wonder, why am I here? This just hurts my ears. But when you see a really good one, it's a very moving moment. It really is. And I would say that that moment spans any genre. Right. I have that sensation when I listen to some rap, when I listen to hip hop, or when I listen to classical music. I do like a lot of different things, but really, I can't say that I love any of those other genres unless it's the odd piece that really stands out that's done so well. I mean, looking back now for some of Eminem when he first hit the scene, I mean, come on. When you hear Lose Yourself or something, that hits me in a similar way as some of these really great Broadway things do Rogers and Hammerstein. And so I'm kind of a nerd to that level where if it's done well, I don't care what format it's in, but it has to be done musically. Well, that's pretty awesome. You just compared Eminem to Rogers and Hammerstein. I don't know if that connection has ever been made, but that's pretty awesome. It's not just the feeling that you get right? Because anybody can induce a feeling. A film can induce a feeling. Any kind of sensory experience can induce a feeling. But there's something about the way that rhythm and melody is put together and the spoken word or the song word that is just magic. And that's just such a beautiful part of the human experience. And so if I can get that in any format and musical theater just gets it faster, it's like right to the veins, then I'm all in. I get goosebumps at good moments in music. If it's an amazing guitar solo, if there's someone hitting a crazy note, if it's twelve people on stage singing different songs, but somehow it's all in the same harmony, in the same rhythm, that stuff gives me goosebumps. It's really amazing. Like I said, there's also bad ones out there, or it's a bad one where you've seen it before and they're just not getting it. That doesn't happen too often. But it does happen. It does happen, but when you get those ones, they just wow. Goosebump after goosebump. It's great. I know. And you sort of chase that feeling. So I don't want to be judgmental, I don't want to be critical. I'm sort of known in my family as someone to not see a new movie with or a new musical with. I'm waiting to see Dear Evan Hanson, the movie adaptation, and no one wants to see it with me because I'm chasing what I know it could be. And so then I don't want to defame anyone's talent. These people are generally very talented, and I'm not going to pretend like I can do exactly what they can do. I like my voice. I studied, I can sing, but I'm not going to elevate myself to that. I'm certainly not a professional in that way, but I know the potential and I know what I'm craving. And so I have high hopes for that movie. I have high hopes for West Side Story. It is a really great time to have all of these productions being accessible. Hamilton being released during the pandemic was a gift to us all. I mean, that is a piece of art that will stand for all time now. It's a beautiful thing. Kelly, let's jump right into this before we get into a lot of things that I know will come up in conversations, movies, specifically. What is your favorite album and how did you discover? Well, highlights from Phantom of the Opera
original cast? Right. This was something that came out originally in the West End first before Broadway, right, in the West End, 1986. I was four growing up in the United States, so I had to wait to see it until much later. But the recording that I have is from that West End, not actually on stage. I'm sure this was done in a studio because there's reverb like crazy on the voices. It's just really hard to listen to you. It's a little bit raw, but that adds to it at some points. It's been enhanced in some way. I mean, you can hear the echoes sort of reverb effect in the voice. So the balance is off. This was recorded so long ago, it was probably very well done. But compare that to some of the beautiful recordings of Broadway shows now and even if it's done live, it's done better than this. But anyway, so this is beautiful because it's the highlights. You cut out so much and you just get right to the meat of it. So you have Michael Crawford, the original Phantom, you have Sarah Priightman, the original Christine, you have Steve Barton, Raoul, and these are just exceptional talents. I have opinions. I know you do, but this is your show. I love Michael Crichton and Steve Barton. They're phenomenal to me and they just knock it out of the park. Crawford. What did I say? Crichton author. Hey, great author. Who is a great author? I will say Jurassic Park. I mean, these are great. But Sarah Brightman, something about her voice, I don't know. This may come because I saw the movie first. Oh, you poor thing. That's what my wife says. Those voices are terrible. I thought she did a great job. Oh, come on. I think you are lured by her beauty and youth. Well, that was part of the role of Christine. Yes, but I've seen a lot of performances of Surviving online. I've watched it and she is very good. I don't know, I don't know. There's something about her that just doesn't get to the level of Michael Crawford to me. Because when you compare the movie Phantom to Michael Crawford, I mean, I'm sorry, but Gerard Butler, he wasn't there. He did him great persona on screen, but musically he did his best he could, but just not quite Broadway town. Yes, I agree. He think he did a great job moving the I think what was her name? Emma Rosem. That's it. She captures the naivete of Christine so beautifully. And then there is this subtlety to her that is beautiful. I cannot handle the way she slides to her notes. There is something very untrained at times. She has a sort of a crystal clear clarity that without a vibrato at the top, that is not a lyric sprint, the color tourist sprinter can do that. But she needs to have some maturity to the voice. It's just too young for me. So anyway, comparing to we have Sarah Brightman. Sarah Brightman, I will agree. Polarizing. She's not this amazing, amazing soprano to me. I think she's good enough to have captured my attention as a young person to say, wow, this is phenomenal that she is able to show so much emotion through her voice. But she has a very fast vibrato and it almost sounds like her voice is squeezed, but she makes up for it to me in the way that she's emotional with the lyrics and she has an exceptional piece to work with. I mean, the lyrics plus the lushness. Nothing about the music is subtle. But I do know probably how she got into this. Do you know the love story between her and Angela? I love it. Yeah. They were actually married, weren't they? Yes. So she was a cat, right? She was a cat that sang solo part. She was in Cats. Yes, she was in Cats. Oh, that I didn't know. Yes, she was a cat and she had a solo. And she was beautiful in that role. And I captured his attention, I'm sure, and they fell in love and all that. And then I just see her as amused for this. And so I give her a little bit of bonus points there for her voice and that she was amused for this. There's a great I think it was his birthday at the Royal Albert Music Hall. It was a compilation of many I mean, you had Donnie Osmond singing Joseph Parts and other things. And Sarah Bright wasn't there. And she sang bits and pieces of Phantom with Antonio Banderez and Michael Ball, who I love Michael Ball. It was there. That was the first time I ever saw her in person. Not in person, but just on a screen. Very specifically duplicated what she does on these albums and on stage. But she's very wouldn't. Whereas when she's bouncing off other people who are walking around stage, she stands in one spot and she doesn't do anything. That might have also kind of shaded me as far as when I finally listened to that full album. So, what did you think when you listened to it? Oh, I do love it. It is great. But to me, the highlight is the music itself. I love the rock opera elements of it. Yes. Oh, you love Rent. I knew you would. This predates Rent completely. And so, of course, you couldn't get Rent before you got this. And I do love Rent quite a bit. It's Rent, though. I had the ability to see it on stage first. I didn't even know what it was or what was about. The touring thing came to Hawaii when I was stationed out there, and I got to see Rent and it was like, Holy crap, this is great. This theater thing is pretty neat. This wasn't my mom's Oklahoma and Sound of Music. This was something completely different. And it was through that group of people that I got to see Miss Saigon and Joseph and the Technical Dream Code and several others. Unfortunately, Phantom never came out there. I have seen Phantom live, which we got to see him at the Fox Theater, my wife and I. And that definitely changed my opinion as far as because at the time I liked the movie better, just so that was kind of my firm opinion. But then you see it live, it's like, oh, that clears up so many plot holes. Number one from the movie. And just to hear that overture live. When I talk about Goosebumps earlier, that overture does it to me every time. That overture is my favorite track. There are two kinds of people in this world when they hear the overture to Phantom, right? The people like us that get chills and that go, all right, buckle up. We're in the Phantom's layer, right? Because remember, at the point that you get the overture, it's not the Rogers and Hammerstein sort of style where you get sort of a mashup of the songs, lighter versions of the main songs at the beginning as everybody is sort of settling in to kind of go into the world of Oklahoma or South Pacific or something, and it's just light this maxine in the face after you've had that old dusty kind of auction scene and the dead chandelier comes to life right in front of you, this beautiful prop that probably in 1986 was just so cool to see. So cool. And it's cool now to see. And you saw it at the Fox, which is such a beautiful theater that is so it's not of the period necessarily, but it's still so old. And we have the mighty Moe, this beautiful organ, which did they use it? Oh, I don't know. When I saw Love Never Dies, the sequel to Phantom at the Fox. They did not use it, I don't think. I think they use the electronic type organ. But I have heard the mighty Mo player do this overture sort of number, a prelude to some other concert or something. He did several songs as sort of the opening act and that was awesome. But I don't know if he actually uses it in the musical. It's interesting that you mentioned Rent earlier because it's in this overture and later on you actually hear electric guitar solos in there. It's amazing. That's what gets it to me, that rock opera element. Like you said, it's not the Rogers and Hammerstein. It's really in your face, if you ask me. As far as a favorite stage musical overture, it's a dead tie between this and Jesus Christ Superstar for me, because it's the same way on Superstar because obviously both Android and Webber. I wouldn't say it's hard. Other shows here on this I've done Van Halen and Metallica and others. It's hard. That's why we're nerds, because this is what's hard to us. Okay, but I agree.
But in the states age musical world, that's a good description. This is going to be different and very quickly changes gears on you in this. After that overture is done, it's like, okay, we got your heart pumping, but then we're going to bring it back well, and it sets you into in the actual stage version, you're not going like the highlights album here goes right into think of Me. Okay. Of course, there's the whole scene there where it's a show within a show. Yeah. And then the curtain falls down on Carlota and she says her famous line if these things still happen, then this thing will not happen. And she, as a diva, kind of goes off the stage and everything. And then that's when you have the young Christine Dale who has been carefully taught. She's been well taught by the Phantom, her angel of music. And she gets to audition for this diva role. And she's so young and new and timid. And then think of me as this beautiful maturation piece which always doesn't sit super well with me because it's not an Italian. Okay. She's auditioning for the famous Paris Offer House. Well, I would like you to go as an Italian. But it just feels like it's this pop song, sort of. But I love how they mimic in the orchestration. They mimic that. It's just solo piano at the beginning with her just like it's her just young, raw, vulnerable out there, very small. I think that's actually one of the things that gets me about it as far as my knocks against Sarah Brighton is that she's got this operatic voice. And you just called it a pop song. That's the disconnect to me, the voice. I think that if it was a little bit more poppy would fit that's better. Look at you pulling for Emma. You're just pulling for Emma because she's too she slides to things. She's so untrained. I hate it. But then again, Sarah Brightman was not super trained either. I think she was mostly self taught. I don't think she studied classically well. She crushes it on those opera beats there. As far as range and stuff. I'm sure I could do it.
Which is the one part that reminds you that that was sort of elemental to the period of the piece in the 1880s and the fairs of her house. That's the one part at the end of the song. But I just love how she's singing. The orchestra is so slow and little. And then the very typical Android Weber thing to do here is to then mimic the melody line. The orchestra is in unison, basically, with the singer at first. And then there's this big flourish. And then you get the lushness of Andrew Lyd. Webber. And on the stage show, she actually transforms her dress into then actually performing. And then towards the end, when she gives that opera kind of run at the end,
you believe that she has sort of come of age and has been on this journey and you've been there with her and Raul sees it. And that's happened in three minutes. I have a love hate with this song because I don't like the way that it's tupac to me and I don't like that it's just certain other things. But I love that the storytelling, andrew Lord, whoever accomplished something so good in three minutes. Yeah. It's a great introduction to Christine and it definitely highlights her operatic voice. And that transition you mentioned when you're able to see it on stage is pretty fantastic. It really is. When I was young, watching this, I saw at the Bobcard Theater in Orlando when I was probably 1415 or so, whenever it came, the Music Box tour. And I just remember thinking, wow, representation is so important. I can't dance, but I can sing. I'm pale, I have dark, curly hair. This is my part. Christine just sort of slits around the stage a little bit. In Hannibal at the beginning, she doesn't really dance. And at that time I thought, I'm going to be an upper Broadway star. This is my role, this is me. And so from that point on, I was Christine, basically. I just carried that with me that I was always going to do and be that, but so seeing that, I thought, I'm going to do a quick change. My career is not going to be complete until I'm going to do a quick change. Okay. My senior year in high school, I got to do a quick change. It was cool. I got to do a quick change. I have never been on stage, so I've never had the opportunity. My theater department in high school was fairly nonexistent. Did you ever do Tech or anything? No, there was football. We played. James was in the Tech kind of department in his and so we grew up in very different places. We didn't meet until college, but I will say, on our very first date, we listened to this track, this whole album, actually, because we kind of had hit it off at a party, and then he was driving me home and then we just kept driving. We ended up driving all the way around 285 and we listened to this and I sang. And did you know he sings? He's going to kill me for saying that, but he sings. And so we sang this together in our first date. There was a beer garden at one time when James and I sang together a few bars of Do You Hear the People Sing? Okay, nice. Yes, we got through a couple of bars of that, but again, it was a beer garden. I believe that that is one of my husband's natural habitats. Next up, there is kind of a transition song. It goes into angel of Music, which I don't know what I like. It does set up the angel of Music kind of repeatable hook that you hear throughout the entire show. Yeah. And those are things that I like in a good musical, like Ranted Others, where what's set up in the first four or five songs, you hear it repeatedly with different lyrics and in different contexts or different tempos, even all the way through the whole show. And when that's done, well, it's just like in Star Wars, you have a light motif or something by John Williams, the absolute master there. And so when that is done well, it's not even obvious. It just sets the tone. And going back to Sound of Music, did you know when they're fleeing the Nazis right. And so the Nazis are in the car chasing them and stuff. The music played there is my favorite things, a few of my favorite things, but in sort of a minor key, even. And so that it's just done so well. And I will say it's done very poorly in Wicked second act of Wicked. I love Wicked, right. But I can only release kind of stomach the first act because I don't see them doing this transition then to the themes translating really well and even enhancing them in the second act. I agree there wickets kind of got individual tracks. They have a few overlap as far as some hooks, but it's largely you got Defined Gravity and For Good. But those all are standalone. They really are. And so then you mentioned Leyma Is earlier. Okay. Lehman is another masterful doing that very masterfully of anything introduced in the first is really brought back, but not really played with too much in the second act. It's just very clearly done. But I do love my favorite when angel of Music comes in is remember at the end when there's this decision right past the point of No Return is reprised. Then when down once more tracked down this murderer, where Christine is having to decide, does Raul die? Do I choose The Phantom? What do I do here? How do I escape this? And she sings angel of Music there at the same time sort of the cacophony and confusion is happening around her.
That is what I'm talking about, mastery, where it's really brought in clearly and differently and well. And sometimes you'll just hear it in the orchestra places, but the singer brought it in. Yeah, it's angel of Music and then the Mirror, they're kind of two songs in one for a little bit, but then that's where you hear The Phantom for the first time. Yes.
And what I like about that one is that the organ at the end, it's almost like a little heartbeat at
the very end of the song. I don't know the terminology musically, but I just know that it's building that suspense. Something's coming.
Yes. I was thinking of the electric drum there at some point there's a but I know you're talking about that and it is like a heartbeat. Christine's heart is racing. There always a strange part of the musical to me that I just sort of have to let go because I don't like that she's so naive to think that there's really an angel singing to her or something. I don't know. I don't want to stop. Gigantic suspension of disbelief. There it is. She's been classically trained by this mysterious voice to get to the level of being able to sing a fancy opera house. How many years has this been going on? The logistics, if you get too deep into it, will ruin the whole show for you. I have this thing against kind of dumb female characters because I went to a female college and I really want to see strong females. And so I always put it as part of her grieving process that in her grief, that in order to feel close to her father, then she is accepting this strange reality that there's a man talking to her and coaching her through the wall. And so I just don't like the predatory nature of that a little bit. So I have to sort of let it go. And I have that same note for Music of the Night. I mean, that's a creepy tune. There's a lot of creep factor, if you really think about it. And In Love Never Dies, there's an entire track where The Phantom is singing to his son. It's just a creepy, operatic rock kind of piece where it's just really strange. I can't remember the name of it right now. But, yes, there is a creep factor to The Phantom stalker nature to him. And you forgive that because of the lushness and the beauty of the music. And it's actually an open question that I have for this whole story. Are you supposed to root for him? Are you supposed to feel sorry for him? Are you supposed to forgive him? What are you supposed to feel about The Phantom? Because he is, in a literal sense, a creepy old dude that's stalking a teenager and trying to seduce her. He's a murderer. Yeah. His body count is two in the music school. Okay? He murders the stage hand and he murders Pianchi, the actor in order to take his place in past the Point of No Return, which is just so phenomenally done because Phantom himself eric, I think, is his name. Eric is a musical genius, obviously. And so he has written this opera, Don Juan, who is famously a Spanish seducer of women who used to disguise himself in order to accomplish that goal. Right? And so The Phantom is literally then on stage in Pianji's clothing, disguising himself in order to seduce Christine. So you think, is this the genius of Andrew Lloyd Webber coming through, the genius of The Phantom here, where he's actually sort of meta? Right? Yeah, you could think of it that way. Is he really immersed in the role? Is he that much of a genius at his craft? Or is he just really wanting Christine that much? Is he that much of a predator? And I have not read the original book, the source material, so I honestly have no idea what's different from the one to the other. I just know that when you watch it and Fan of the Opera, the actual song, it's visual masterpiece, no matter how you're looking at it where they're on the boat. And Michael Crawford, when he sings Phantom of the Opera the first time, that is an amazing moment.
It's amazing. It always is. And lots of Phantoms out there. Out there. And I've heard many different recordings and his is still one of the best. It really is. It really is. I am going to suggest that you listen to Ramen Carmenloo. I'm saying his name probably terribly. He was the originator of Phantom in Love Never Dies. He kills it all right. He brings so much masculinity in bravado. You may not like it, because what Michael Crawford does so well is he brings that tender vulnerability of, do I root for this guy or not? He really brings that right. For Ramen, he almost brings out that evil a little bit more. There's more power. You almost feel like he's just more in control. Whereas what Michael does is he brings that sort of is the music controlling him, is the music of the night just is he that much of a genius of his craft that he's sort of following those instincts to? Then there's something that you can almost believe. The passion. Those murders were passion murders. I'm not excusing them. But then for Ramen's performance, you can see almost that he is more in control. Interesting. Yeah, I like that different because from an outside perspective, it looks like a black and white character as far as this is the way he thinks, this is the way it's going to be. But when you throw different actors in there, I'm glad they can still put their different spins on it and different vision of that character. That's awesome. It really is quite nuanced then, because when Christine kisses the Phantom at the end, I mean, that's the Beauty and the Beast moment, right? That's when the beauty then kisses the beast and he becomes human, basically. And so for certain performances, you can see that humanity more, especially if the singer is more vulnerable. And I think that comes actually from a higher voice, too, if the tenor is a little bit higher, which Michael Crawford does have that baritone tenor type quality. And so I think that Ramine is more grounded and does a lot more classic Broadway techniques where he just so forceful when he sings. I don't know what your take on it is, but to me, this is not a love story. I don't know the story of Love Never Dies or how the sequel goes, but it's completely one sided. It's an obsession thing from the Phantom. So at the end, when Christine does kiss him, it is solely to kind of placate him and just give him what he needs so that she can rescue her love. And he's crushed by that realization that she does not love him and she's not going to. So the love story is just kind of complicated. I don't know if different actors have different spins where maybe her choice is a little bit more love. Either way, I don't know. You are going to need this is your homework, Steve. Okay. You're going to need to find some version. I do believe that the Australian version was filmed of Love Never Dies because there has been some revision to the staging of Phantom, I think in order to answer some of these questions that we're having and in order to make the first flow into the second more cohesively. Because I swear, when I saw this originally years and years and years ago, there was not this level of nuance to certain aspects of Raul and Christine. For example, the new staging that was several years ago of the Phantom of the Opera original, that was at the Fox. When they're about to staying, all I ask of you, they're on the roof, right? That's always been, I believe, but they had the actress almost jump off the roof because she was that terrified of the Phantom.
And they really emphasized that her love for Raoul was based in security, was based in protection, and was based on thinking at that point in the 1880s as a female, what am I going to do? And so seeing sort of that the institution of marriage as protection, right. And that she was so scared that she was almost going to commit suicide and that love was a viable option there. And so that's what they really chose through certain they really played up the fear of Christine, I think in the wasn't a sequel yet. I think in the sided sort of portrayal, although in the movie that you love so much, which I'm poking at you for, the seduction was really played out. It was she's not asleep on the couch while he sings that or anything. She is there being actively seduced by him. And then in Point of No Return, that is also something where you're thinking, is she into this now? You know, it's kind of does she like this or not? Which then is implied that she does like it for the second one. Point of No Return is a very intimate song. It really is. And I don't know if that was her trying to play the part in his musical he wrote, or if that is her telling him that she's got to make a decision, that she is torn on said decision. So it can go either way. I like the ambiguity. It's your own personal interpretation. But that song is definitely just intimate.
How long before we're to be one? I mean, our bodies in 20. All of that eroticism, by the way, over my head as a 1415 year old kid, completely over my head. Which is hilarious because then I realized I wasn't going to probably be on Broadway, which broke my heart, but I had a lot of anxiety in college and then decided another love that I had, I'm ADHD. So I have a lot of different loves. Another love that I had was psychology. And so then I pursued that, but I was so close to my major in music, but I ended up switching over to psychology and then getting a master's in that and everything. But there was so much that went over my head then that I ended up being a Christian sex therapist. Not just any kind of therapist. I work with marriages and couples and sex. And so it's just comical to me now that I've listened to this track hundreds of times, and only later in my life did I realize that, AHA moment of, oh, okay. There was all that innuendo. What is it? Innuendo in Music of the Night. In between that and Next, does he seducer I mean, it's kind of an open question. Well, a question that is answered in Love Actually. Okay, I know. Can I give spoilers? Can I? Go ahead. Oh, yeah. I don't think many people are jumping out to that particular album next. Okay, well, I would recommend it, although there's so many changes. He had such heavy critique for the musical when it first came out. People were calling it instead of Love and Never Dies, paint Never Dries, because they were saying that things were drawn out and that the storyline was far fetched and blah, blah, blah and everything. But I do believe that he based it just like he based the original Phantom on a book. I believe there was a book that then he based the second one. To my knowledge, it takes place in Coney Island and the Phantom returns, and there's a kid involved or something. That's the extent of my knowledge. The whole thing is that Christine then realizes at the close of the musical, close of the original, that she has all these doubts. Why am I really marrying Raoul? Is it for passion, for love, for intrigue, for music? All the things that make me come alive? Or is it for safety? Is it for money? Is it for security? And there's a whole song that explains this. Beneath the moonlit sky, she finds the Phantom where he had been hidden away by Madame Jury to save his life because he was going to be arrested and put on trial for the murders and everything. And they have sex and they produce a child, right? And then Christine, it's at the same time as she gets married, basically. So Christine really doesn't know who it belongs to. It is always sort of suspected. Anyway, the child is raised as if it was rebels, and then ten years later, she's invited by the Phantom, although she doesn't know it's the Phantom, to sing at Coney Island because he had to escape to America, because he was hunted. Right. For his crimes, he went with Madame Jury and Madame Jury. Then, just like she had saved him as a child or whenever she came to save him originally, he bought a sideshow and all this stuff. He becomes this mogul, right? So he has his own theater, and he's living among the quote unquote freaks because he's found his people, basically. And then it becomes this vaudeville style place where he then lures Christine back to sing. And Raoul is a drunk, Raul's in debt, and so she falls back in love with him, with the Phantom. I will not say anything more. There is much more. Yes, I'll have to look into that. Because I have questions. No, because you mentioned Beauty and the Beast earlier, and that's one of those Disney revisions sort of things that you can look back on that story as far as the Stockholm syndrome, and you just fell in love with the guy who imprisoned your father and then you and kept you secluded. Now you love him, like, okay, so now you got the Phantom of the Opera. It's like you're really in love with the guy that was a sexual predator and also murderer. And let's go down the list. I question your taste in men here, lady. I know, it really is. Oh, my goodness. And then I'm so tempted to spoil the sequel, but I really want to. If you know nothing about it, you really just need to watch it or listen to it. But keep in mind, the recording has been altered so much. There was a whole introductory premise to the musical, how it was presented by former circus act people, and then he sort of switched that. There's a lot of changes, but you'll still get the general story, obviously, through the music, and not so much of the main pieces changed. I am curious. I'm definitely going to look into that because it's just so weird fuel the curiosity. Right. And yes, I do question Christine's sense of self. Christine, who are you without these men? Okay, absolutely. She could have been a great opera singer, but she should have talked to someone. Well, this is a very different time, a very different time. And so it just sort of reminds you of that. If this was written today, how would it be written? It wouldn't. It be amazing. So much time has passed. The 1980s was not just 20 years ago, it was 40 years ago. If this was written today, christine and Meg would have went back to the opera and burned it down and just torched all the men, probably. And I'm not in Japan. I feel the need to say, I'm happily married for almost 18 years to a man. I'm raising a young man. I'm not anti men. And so I definitely don't want to see a version where she burns it down. But I would like to see more of who is Christine without her father, without a man, or with a man and still being herself. I mean, for goodness sake. So I don't feel like Christine's I want song is really anywhere except for all I ask of you, she says, all I want is freedom, a world with no more knight. And then she's found that in the arms of Raul. But can she find it in herself? The Phantom doesn't show the audience anything that redeems himself to the audience. Someone could say, well, he gave her the gift of music, sure, but it was under the guise of lies. He was playing up the whole I am your angel of music, I'm whispering in your ear. When he had ulterior motives the whole time, it was to serve him. Right. It's sort of this multi level of servanthood. He sort of feels like he's a servant to the music itself, as if the music of the night was its own entity. So he worships music, and then he's sort of demanding that Christine play that role to then fit his vision of how to serve the music in him. So if you're going to go around also more speculation, you could say that she just wants someone that she can feel sorry for because she looks at him with sympathy. At the end of the Family the opera with Raul, he's established, he's secure, he's not a project. Whereas with the Phantom, there's a lot to change there. And maybe that's what she wanted. Maybe. But the second one will prove you wrong, because Raul is definitely a hot mess. He's a project in the second okay, he's drunk, he's got gambling debts. Right. And so if that theory held water, then in the second one she would well, it does explain why she stayed with him so long, then. Because it's been years and years implied that Ralph has been a hot mess. And so, yeah, maybe that's true. Right. But there's something there that yes, the Phantom, is he a true narcissist where other people exist to serve his vision? That's what it sounds like. Or is he so emotionally damaged and stunted from being a disfigured person? Sadly, in a time where that was viewed as evil just by the way you look, that was a curse. Or that was he really suffered so much trauma from the moment he was born. His first clothing was a mask, was the first scrap of unfeeling clothing. I think the line is from his mother. So you could say he had an attachment wound. Oh, there's definitely an origin story of trauma there. Sure. And to me, it will never justify the murders and the keep coming back to that. See how we forget. And that's why I say it's such a great musical. As far as the ambiguity of it, you can have many different takes. Some people like, oh, I love The Phantom, he's amazing. Christine should have ended up with The Phantom. Did you watch it? No, I think Christine christine should have ended up with herself, really. I mean, that's my hot take. One thing having never seen the sequel, just the first
sure. There's a childhood attachment to her. That's where that started. But he's trying to protect her. He's in love. He does everything he can to protect her. And from all I can see through the lyrics and the stage play, he's in love. He's a true night and shining armor sort of hero guy. So he seems genuine there. But that's without any of the future knowledge of the drunken gambling. I'm not someone who watches Hallmark movies. He seems kind of boring to me. But, yes, he says all the right things. All I ask of you is the power ballad, basically, where he says all the things that women want to hear. He was the person for her. I do believe they were in love for that moment, in that time. And maybe at the end, then they did pretend there's no sequel. Maybe they did find each other in a beautiful time and for that purpose, and then if things were good, happily ever after, right? Maybe that did happen. I will say he's incompetent. He's got money, he's got power, he's got the authorities, and they can't find the one guy that's living underneath the opera. They didn't try very hard. Right? Again, we suspend belief. Right? But at some point in the sequel, and I think it said too, when they revised the original, or maybe it was there all the time and I forgot, madam Gerry, in explaining The Phantom, she says things like, he's an inventor, he's an architect, he's a genius, a musical genius. He's all these things, right? So that is sort of for us to say, well, he's invented some way that he can't be found, right? I mean, come on, they didn't have GPS trackers or infrared sensors. He's built tunnels. He's done something. But I agree, Raul, to have all these references to his power and his family and his wealth and things, he really doesn't do much with it. So back to the album, the Highlights album. What tracks are your go to? Which ones do you kind of gravitate towards and which ones do you skip, if there are any? Well, I always skip Master Aid. Okay. Yes. Masquerade is just one of those things that works really well on stage. When you see it, it's this big show stopper, right? And it occurs right after it's the beginning of the second act. So right after the intermission. Okay. That's a tough spot for songs to come in. All right. I love everything about Hamilton except for what did I miss? That's the first song after the intermission. Weakest song in the whole show. It's the catchup song, so you can argue that, oh, there's this great pomp and circumstance for this song. It's so cool and everything. There's the grand staircase, there's this iconic piece of scenery and everything, but to me, it's forgettable I don't enjoy it, and so I've skipped it for a long time. I like that track. Do you? Okay. Convince me why to me. It's a good transition to act, too, because it does start off with telling you that a couple of months have passed and things are getting comfortable. They're comfortable enough after the events of the first act to throw a party. They're letting their guard down. There's some exposition and the lyrics and stuff. But I like the back half of the song where it's more upbeat and you actually kind of end up playing a little air conductor.
I like that part of it. Well, see, if I want to air conduct, then I go to sort of the tango rhythm of past the point of no return, which is, I'm such a nerd. I actually looked up is the tango Spanish? No, it really originated in Argentina, but 1880s. So is Anthony never that much of a genius that he thought, how can I make this really cool? And so, okay, we'll do Don Juan, which was a popular storyline, and different shows were made different, beautiful, even operas and things existed in literature about this in Italy and Spain. So around the area of France where this is. But then how did the Phantom and his creation of his opera kind of fly down to Argentina? But anyway, if I want to air conduct, I'm going to do that or I'm going to really lean in to just nobody does strings to have this breath and the phrasing. No one does strings. Like Andrew, he's heavily influenced and he's said in interviews by things like South Pacific and Rogers and Hammerstein, other things, where that's the lushness of the strings and the horns and things. So that's what I'm going to wave my arms, too, in the strings in that song. They are like deep breaths,
tango. I never even attached that in my head to that song. But you're right. And then there's another check mark on the board for I could do this part because I can't dance. They don't do the tango? No. They walk around the stage in various positions and they're near each other. They're far apart. Their hands are touching. They're far apart. What's her decision going to be? They're not actually dancing. And so anytime if there's no dancing, I make a little mental list of things that I could actually perform. And so now I go to that or I go to I have a soft spot in my heart for wishing you were somehow here again. I really love this. Why can't the pause just die? No more memories, no more silent tears. There's something just so like it just touches my little emo heart at age 1314. Just something deep there. I mean, I don't know what I was trying to forget at those ages, but there's something it's so much better to me than think of me. If you're thinking about Sarah Brightman's voice, I think she performs it better and I think it's just more I just like the orchestration better.
I do think the song fits her voice better. Yes, I agree. Very sad song. Yes. And I honestly didn't understand the sadness as much as a young person. I feel like I've grown up with this musical. I've listened to it so much over the years, and now at 40, I hear so much differently than when I was 14, 1516. And so now that I have lost people in my life, your heart goes out to this girl that's a young woman who really was searching for something and trying to close a chapter of her life and open another, but she wasn't really quite sure what to open, really. But she knew that she had to let go of her youth and her dad in some way. And that song is just lovely. I missed out on so much by not growing up in New York or near New York or anything. So I really did not have a lot of exposure to theater. I did see Miss Saigon and Phantom when I was young. And then it was not until I came to Atlanta where I started to just really pursue things at the Fox because my first time at the Fox was just this amazing difference. It's so different than other theaters, and it's so cool. We did our course saying at Carnegie Hall when I was in high school, and so that was beautiful. Oh, it was amazing. The color of my bridesmaid's dresses was picked because of the red of the Carnegie Hall seats. Okay. So that's how much that experience was ingrained in me. Well, the Fox really comes alive at Paw Patrol on stage. It's fantastic. Okay, now, didn't you and me and Michelle didn't we see Star Trek, though, at The Boss? Yes. That was an epic. That was Atlanta Symphony.
We saw it. Now I'm trying to remember which venue. I don't know. But the music of Star Trek, we could do a whole other show on it. Yeah, that was a great show. It was. Stay tuned for part two of Steve and Kelly Dissect Star Trek, because that's another area of nerd dumb that we can do. Do you have any other go to songs on this album? Really? I will not ever get tired of the overture. I really won't. Or that fugue element really is the best version of that. I like it better than actually the Phantom's I am song of Phantom. When he's singing it. I like it better without the vocals. And so I'm just listening to that beautiful organ work just with the Arpeggios. And I just love that you commented to me in messenger when I put that transition point in the song in one of my trailers for this. That's my favorite part of the song, where it shifts and then the strings kick in. It's so memorable, that one moment for me.
Yeah, it really is iconic. And I just can't get over how in the 80s, right. Audiences responded to this the way that audiences now respond to Hamilton. Okay. And so I see so many parallels, even though they're very different personalities between Andrew Lloyd Weber and Lynn Manuel and Miranda, where we are seeing, I hope and pray, a prolific amount of work from Lin Manuel over the next years. Just like we see so much from Android Weber because they are so high quality and they are pioneers in the genre. I mean, really, Android Weber at the time was pulling the best of the Rock Ballad of the he then added opera to it. And he had, of course, started that earlier with Jesus Christ Superstar. So he definitely started that earlier. But he was somehow fully 80s with the synthesizer and things and the drum kit and stuff, but also advancing the genre. And then that is exactly Lin Manuel. He's immersed in pulling from recent kind of 90s hip hop and things. He's pulling all these references that are modern references and then still advancing so much because who else is out there doing a hip hop opera musical and doing it to that degree of amazingness? And so they are just both pioneers to me. What do you think of Prima Donna? We skipped over that one, and I'm curious. Okay, so as a young person studying classical music, I studied piano voice in college. Voice was my major. Piano. I was trying very hard, but my piano skills are not great. And so I just adored Carlota's voice. And then again, Checklist is like, there's two roles that I could do in this show, right? Or maybe I could even be Meg. I just saw so much opportunity as a young person. But when I would sing along to the soundtrack, it was 50 50. I was 50% singing Carlota and then 50% singing Christine because it's so good. I love opera, but her character is fun. Mini Driver really exaggerates it in the movie, which is having fun. You can tell. It is so fun. It's one of my favorite songs on this whole album because the whole groups involved. And this is where we've mentioned Rent several times. But this is one of those songs where you've got several people in different points singing completely parallel things, but all in rhythm and all in harmony at times. I love that. Yes. And the best example of that before that, I think, would be Leonard Bernstein and West Side Story when right before the intermission, I believe. And everything comes together tonight. Tonight. And they put all the things together that's just beautiful. And so good musicals will do that really well. And here you go. It's a shame Jonathan Larsen passed away and Rent was all we have from him. But the Christmas morning in the very end of Act One before Lobby Bomb is just amazing. That's what I like listening to on Rent because you got the main crew and then a dozen other extras, all singing parts and it's just a musical spaghetti junction of just everybody going a dozen different ways and it all works. This one not as complex and crazy as far as the number of people, but I just love the way they do it. And then everybody comes together for the finale of the song with the light up the stage line, and it's another goosebump moment for me. I like that song.
And yet you have never sung in a choir. Have you never had a choir experience? You have never heard me sing. Okay, I haven't. I'm going to ask Michelle about it. But this is what I miss about being inquires. I really haven't been inquires since college, but before that I was in allstate choirs and choir. Choir choir was my life, and so I fully enjoyed every minute of it back then. But I look back now and said, wow, I wish I would have savored it even more than I did because of that element where I loved to sing when we would do arrangements, where it wasn't just all the sopranos in one block and all the altos. I loved it when we were arranged and I would have an alto next to me and then a tender next to me in a base, or if I was in a small ensemble because of that interplay of the voices gelling so beautifully, and there's nothing like being in the midst of that performing. What you're describing is very cool to listen to. I can do it both ways. Being in it and listening, that is really cool. Yeah, I have never had that experience. And that's really cool about playing instruments. You never played instruments either? I played a saxophone in elementary school, but that's as far as I got. Okay, well, maybe it's never too late. Never too late. Pick up something because you have too much of a musical understanding to not then have that experience of being in it. Because that is beautiful. I will live through my children. Okay, I'm in my forty s now. I'll go that route. I'll start up a family band or family band like the Von Trapps. Van Trapp family. I can say I'm the best singer in my car. I'll rock a mean atlevice. That's a sweet. You should sing that as a lullaby. Is that sweet? Have you ever heard the full album of Queens A Night at the Opera? I have not, no. I recommend it. Queen Classic Rock Legends, of course. And it's on my current short list, as far as I may be talking about it on the same podcast. Okay, maybe not, I haven't decided yet. But everyone's heard Bohemian Rhapsody. Sure, but there is so much more to that album, and it's called The Night at the Opera for a reason. It showcases Freddie Mercury's voice and his multi talents of harmony with the rest of the group. Every song is completely different. It's not going to be what you expect it's not We Will Rock you right. Maybe one song is similar, maybe next song is crazy. But I highly recommend you checking that one out. Nice. With what we've talked about today, I think you'd like that album a lot. Very nice. I appreciate the recommendation. So, Kelly, fan of the opera, the highlights of West End made your top spot. What albums made your shortlist? Well, I'm a sucker for Hamilton. I could not help but talk about it a lot already tonight. And so that was really up there because I could talk all day about Hamilton and the genius. I love A Chorus Line too. That's another where the voices are not so, so great. But the story was so important at the time and still is important to tell. It was such a concept of let's show this world to people who don't know this world. And I also love dear Evan Hansen. Ben Flat is amazing. I think he's one of the most talented singers we have alive today. Really? I would go so far to say that because he is that good. But I also love Metallica. I could talk about them a little bit, not as much. But my favorite is when Metallica has a symphony, when they have the orchestra, that is just great. Or I could have talked about Juul. Also when she brings strings really shines. That's an artist I haven't heard much from in a long time. If I wasn't going to talk Broadway, then it was over Metallica. Really? It was going to be Jewel. Because Jewel, that was a formative kind of material for me growing up. So before Jewel hit it big, she did this thing called something with wizard of Oz. Wizard of Oz on stage. And did you ever see it? No. I mean, I know wizard of Oz, but I didn't see Jewel in it. I had it on VHS. I used to watch it all the time. So Jewel played Dorothy. Really? She still had dark hair, just as right before her first album. So I was early high school. This was one of my guilty pleasures that I would watch, that I would never tell my high school friends that I'm watching this. But yeah, Dorothy there. Joel Gray played the wizard, jackson Brown played the Scarecrow, roger Daltrey of the who played the Tin Man and Nathan Lane played the collarly line. That's fine. No, I not seen this. It's on stage. It's them standing behind podiums singing their hearts. You have the Harlem Boys Choir or the Munchkins. It is really good. I have several of the tracks just kind of ripped from the internet and they're on my phone because I love Jackson Brown's version of If I Only Had a Brain. Nathan Lane's version of what the hell is this song covered lion's song. It's very comical. That Nathan Lane. Yeah. Style. It's perfect to moan, but the highlight is definitely somewhere over the rainbow by Jewel. She crushes it. And then like a year or two later, you hear Who Will Save Your Soul? On the radio. It's like, I know that voice. Pieces of You, I think was the album. Right where I think so that sounds familiar. Or Garth Brooks. I see how I'm all over the place. Garth Brooks is another beautiful, beautiful talent. I guess I just really like the upper crust of every genre, really, because I think for that sort of that independent, I guess you call it indie, or that folksy kind of sound. I mean, you can't top Jewel. She really commands that genre, right? And then you have garth Brooks'who is the top of any kind of country ever. Not arguing there's no arguing that with me. So what you're describing is that you found Jewel really early. That's kind of lucky. I can't say that I found any of these people early. I found it through Jackson Brown, because I'm a big Jackson Brown fan, great singer songwriter that my father turned me on to a long time ago. So saw a commercial one day that, hey, there's just going to be this thing on Jackson Brown's. Play a scarecrow. Hey, I like wizard of Oz. So I recorded it, and the whole show is great, but those performances on it are really good. I haven't YouTubed it in a long time, but it's got to be out there. I think the only thing that was happening in my household growing up was a mix of my oil up, playing just so much of Lawrence Welk. You remember watching Lawrence Welk show all those variety shows and things, and even reruns of that, obviously, and then her really loud kind of Cuban moringa music and things, and I would hear that in the background. And then my dad loved The Four Seasons, and so just talk about harmony. I need to see Jersey Boys. I've not seen that in person, so I need to see that totally go. And then we would play just the music of the day, just the house music, I guess, the top 40 stuff and everything. So I thought, I can't say anyone ever really took me under their wing and said, hey, here, listen to this. I think there was someone in my dad's family that gave me a beautiful piano music at one point, and so that's really kind of the only time anyone ever gave me something to listen to. But my kids are getting such an education in 90s music and in musicals. We were studying something the other day in home school, and the Titanic came up, and so we were talking about the Titanic, and then what did we do? We listened to some musical numbers from the Titanic. You played him Celine Dion, didn't you? No, I'm not just Titanic and musical. That's musical. Okay. Yeah. That's a really overlooked one. There's some gorgeous voices in that and some really well done music. So I would recommend Titanic the musical and there's not a Celine Dion in sight. Okay. So Celine's got a lot of talent. I'm not going to say she doesn't, but I've never been just a diehard Celine Dion fan, but this was fun. Yes. I could talk about Phantom all day long because I love it and I think I talked about all the songs I wanted to talk about. So before we wrap this up, would you like to tell our listeners what you're working on or if they can find anywhere or anything you would like to pitch? Well, Lynn Manuel, if you are listening, you are a genius and I'm sorry I insulted your voice. I will never do it again. And Andrew Webber, if you are listening, you're a genius and I also am sorry. I'm a home school mom and I'm a therapist and so I'm really not promoting anything other than my sanity these days, trying to balance the two. I love what I do. I love my kids, I love my husband, I love my clients. And so I'm just trying to find out how I can also be a little bit of me there, too, because a big part of me is just loving to sing and loving to just indulge, really, in these indulgent melodies. That would be a great word for Android Weber's music. I think they're very indulgent in the best way possible. They're very lush and rich and just if ever I want to feel something, I'm not going to turn on another genre, really. I will turn on Broadway music and it's generally going to be an android Weber type of music because I think it really evokes so much feeling for me more than other composers. I mean, can I be friends with Andrew? The closest that I've ever been to him, right? Can I call him Andrew? I'm not going to call him Lord. That just feels weird. But the coolest experience of my life, or one of the coolest experiences was james and I were on a cruise to Northern Mediterranean or something like that, and we stopped in England and so we stopped in London and by chance I got to see the closing night of Love Never Dies there and it opened there before it came to the ice. It took a while to come to the I had to go to Australia before it came to the United States. There were that many revisions and the show was kind of a mess and so Angela and Weber was like 15 rows in front of me and at the end of the show and it was one of those performances, I don't know if you've ever been to like a closing night of something or just where you can feel the electricity. At the end of Christine's, one of her songs, she actually tiered up. She broke character for a minute and tiered up because you could tell it just welled up in her. The audience was feeling it so much, and she had given so much, and that was the last time she was going to sing that song. So she broke and cried a lot. Anyway, so at the end of it, we're all clapping. The actors are up there kind of crying a little bit and stuff and doing their bowels. And then the audience sits down and who stands up? It's Andrew Lloyd Webber. And he's right. He's been in front of me the whole time and I didn't know it. And then he got up there and he spoke and he thanked the crowd and he thanked and he called people out and thanked it. It was so cool. It was really cool. So I was like, Oh, I was so close. But I don't know what I would do. This would be me.
Same thing with Len Manuel, if I ever met either of them, because I'm so impressed by their ability and talent. Well, Kelly, I'd like to thank you for your time today. It was a pleasure to sit and talk with you about Fan of the Opera. Thank you so much for letting me sing and talk and just be a person, because this is so fun for me. I appreciate it. Fun on all sides. This was a blast. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you for listening to music rewind a podcast from the Sidereal Media Group. And as I always say, listen to the full album. Until next time.
A podcast from the Sidereal Media Group. Back to you. Anchors.