With total worldwide box office sales exceeding $3 billion (that's right, billion), Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera is the most financially successful entertainment venture of the 20th century. Kind of amazing, then, that I've never seen it. I'm like one of those weirdos who refuses to get a cellphone or who still listens to music on cassette tapes. Pathetic, really.
Well, at least in this one sense, I'll be catching up with mainstream culture this week. When a touring production of The Phantom of the Opera comes to UNM's Popejoy Hall for a month-long engagement, I'll be there to finally see what all the fuss is about.
D.C. Anderson has been performing in various versions of The Phantom of the Opera since the late ’80s. I recently had a chance to ask him why the musical is such a big deal.
“I think it's a combination of the romance, the underdog story certainly,” he says. “I suppose all of us feel that there is some way, something that we have to overcome, and here is this beautiful woman who sees who this man is underneath all his deformities. Also, he has this talent for inspiring musicians. Of course, there's the romantic, beautiful music, too. The show is also beautifully designed, the costumes and the scenery, in such a way as to pull people in in a really wonderful way.”
Over the years, Anderson has played more than a dozen different roles in the mega-hit musical. During this tour, he's playing Andre, one of the two managers of the haunted opera house.
“At the beginning of the show we take over this opera house from a gentleman who has had enough of the phantom spooking him and killing folks,” he says. “We buy it, and when we show up for the first day of rehearsal, things just start happening. So basically my role is to keep things together, and keep the opera house going, and keep things moving, all at the same time, while the phantom is wooing Christine.”
While on tour with Phantom, Anderson also performs his own cabaret show in local venues. Last month, he released I Am Still, his seventh CD. “The stuff I do is kind of acoustic piano and acoustic guitar driven—sort of folk story songs. I have been recording since 1989. Actually, right when I started Phantom, I started doing recordings. One of the beauties of this job is that I have time to do that, to write and also to perform in different cities. So it's an exciting thing for me.” The date, time and venue of Anderson's Albuquerque performance is yet to be announced. Go to dcanderson.net for details.
As far as The Phantom of the Opera, Anderson is amazed I've never seen the musical, and I'm a little embarrassed to have lived in a bubble for so long. Thankfully, Anderson isn't too judgmental.
“Hopefully,” he says, “other bubble folks like you will come out this time and give it a shot.”