So this past weekend I was lucky enough to score some tickets to The Phantom of the Opera North American Tour at the Straz Center. I had a crazy busy week and I could not think of a better way to celebrate – a fabulous musical at a stunning theater in lovely downtown Tampa, Florida.
The Phantom of the Opera is honestly one of my favorite musicals – I love everything about it. The music is beautiful and the story is exciting yet tragic. This particular version was revamped by Cameron MackIntosh and was really quite spectacular.
The stage was set up like a rotating cylinder, with each set built into the cylinder. It was really clever, there were no major set changes or delays and therefore always kept your attention. I also really love the pace of this musical, it always keeps you interested and engaged, never a dull moment. It helps of course to have a very talented cast with powerful voices (including Chris Mann from The Voice!). And of course, a full orchestra – there is no better way to see a show like this then with a live orchestra. It brings such passion and depth to the experience.
One thing I love about this story is the idea of masks –the idea of hiding our true selves. The Phantom is severely disfigured and wears a mask to hide his face. Yet the one thing that he wants is to be loved and accepted for who he is…something he never had in his life, not even from his own mother. He becomes enamored with a young opera singer named Christine, viewing her as his salvation from the shame of his disfigurement. However he treats her like others have treated him – as an object that needs to be captured and tamed. It is a love that is doomed from the beginning.
I think the Phantom is actually a relatable character – his shame, his anger, and his deep desire to be accepted and loved are components of the human experience that we can all understand and empathize with in some way. If you really think about it – how often do you feel truly accepted for who you are? How often do you present exactly the way you want? How often do you get angry when you feel you have been misunderstood or ignored?
We all wears masks on a daily basis. Society demands certain standards of interactions from us, and we comply. We have a mask we wear to the office, different masks for different social groups, and even masks in intimate relationships. But when do we truly get to be ourselves?
I believe that the more that we can love ourselves wholly and completely, the more real we will feel around other people. The more that we can say “I 100% accept myself for who I am” the more authentic we will feel and the more authentic we will present. The masks will no longer feel like a necessary crutch.
I encourage you to reflect on this for the New Year. How accepting are you of yourself? If you were to look in the mirror, can you say that you 100% accept yourself for EVERY aspect of your being, the good AND the bad? Or are you like the Phantom – hiding your true self in shame and low self-worth? What would it take for you to open up and share your true self with the rest of the world?
PS – I can’t emphasize enough how awesome this show is – check it out here:
It is truly not to be missed!