Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

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Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  Raphael on Mon Nov 30, 2009 3:21 am

I saw a thread on PotO.com discussing the rather confusing issues surrounding the Don Juan scene and I thought it an interesting enough topic to bring forth here.

So the Don Juan scene seems riddled with problems: Does anyone believe the characters in the show think the person under that hooded cloak is Piangi? And based on that answer, at what point does Christine realize who it really is? And when she whips his hood off center stage, why don't the gendarmes just storm in and arrest him? And who would fardels bear? And how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?

To the first point, a number of Phantom actors have used a slight Italian accent when singing the first part of PoNR, which implies that the Phantom is pretending to be Piangi. Fair enough, but the actors still sound nothing like Piangi. But if you reach back to Leroux, Erik had a great gift for altering his voice. So I like to think that ALW!Phantom is (in the context of the show), perfectly mimicking Piangi's voice up to the point that he's revealed to the audience. My belief that Christine doesn't know that she's on stage with the Phantom until she feels his mask hinges on that theory. As for the girth thing, well, except for the shapeless cloak, I got nuthin'.

Anybody got an answer to why Raoul pulls the gendarmes back and the managers tell Christine to stay on stage with the psycho who's in obsessively in love with her?

Feel free to discuss any and all issues you have with this scene.

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  phantom10906 on Mon Nov 30, 2009 3:54 am

I would also like to believe that Erik is perfectly imitating Piangi's voice. At least up until the point where he starts singing PONR. I would like to think that the reason Raoul and company do not realize it is the Phantom is because they simply aren't expecting him to try and actually get into the show. As for the stature and girth issue, i have noticed a few Phantoms walking slightly hunched over during the opening to the song, I can only assume that this is to give the illusion of looking like Piangi. I think the really scary thing is the fact that Christine is, in retrospect, suppose to be singing the song with Piangi. Laughing

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  Madame Giry on Mon Nov 30, 2009 4:27 am

It's probably a stretch, but maybe the Phantom's singing is (supposed to be) so beautiful and bewitching that everyone (Christine, other people ontage, backstage, audience, etc...) is kind of mezmerized and basically forget about the fact that 'Hello! This isn't short, fat, Italiante Piangi!' and just get lost in the music. Might be the same way for Christine, seeing how easily she's fallen under the Phantom's vocal spell and music before (MotN, Wandering Child). His presence, singing, and influence might have something to do with the, ah, passion, she invests into the role. *winks at Raph*

For Christine, the moment she snaps out of it and realizes exactly who she's singing with is when she feels that mask under the hood. For the audience, it's when Christine pulls the hood off.

As far as why Raoul gestures for Christine to stay onstage, hm. Maybe it's because he sees what a vulnerable position she's put the Phantom in and he's afraid that if Christine leaves the Phantom will be able to collect his thoughts/dignity and plan quick escape. Yeah ... that really worked out well. Razz

Interesting thread.

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  phantomgirl110 on Mon Nov 30, 2009 6:01 am

I agree that the Phantom mimics Piangi's voice (whether or not the actor actually does, I think that's what we're supposed to believe), and Christine doesn't realize that it's him under the cloak until she feels his mask. The stupid wannabe-Zorro costume is one of my biggest problems with that scene in the movie; everyone can tell that it's him immediately, and that takes so much away from the scene.

As for why Raoul and the managers keep Christine onstage and stop the gendarmes from shooting...that one's still a mystery to me. I'm sure the real reason is something along the lines of "Because the characters need to be alone onstage for everything that follows," but I'd like an explanation that makes sense in the context of the show. Madame, yours is the best I've heard yet.

phantom10906 wrote:I think the really scary thing is the fact that Christine is, in retrospect, suppose to be singing the song with Piangi. Laughing
I laughed, and then realization dawned and I said "...ew."

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  LadyCDaae on Mon Nov 30, 2009 3:28 pm

phantomgirl110 wrote:I agree that the Phantom mimics Piangi's voice (whether or not the actor actually does, I think that's what we're supposed to believe), and Christine doesn't realize that it's him under the cloak until she feels his mask. The stupid wannabe-Zorro costume is one of my biggest problems with that scene in the movie; everyone can tell that it's him immediately, and that takes so much away from the scene.

Exactly--and he and Christine spend half the song on opposite ends of the stage, why the h€ll wouldn't the cops grab him at that point? A case of the screenplay and/or Schumacher creating more problems with a scene that, as the esteemed Raphael pointed out in the OP, already has enough Fridge Logic to be dealing with.

My excuse for Christine has always been method acting (although technically Stanislavsky wouldn't introduce this approach to performing until a couple decades down the line). There have been cases of actors going so far into a role they temporarily lose themselves, and Christine is described in Leroux as such a passionate performer that I can easily see her getting so wrapped up in being "Aminta" that she doesn't really register what's happening until it's too late. As for everyone else, I like to think that they know it's not Piangi out there--but they don't know that it is the Phantom. They may assume that Piangi was somehow incapable of going onstage and another singer jumped in to take his place (which, really, isn't that far from the truth) and are just operating under the "the show must go on" principle at this point.

Madame Giry wrote:As far as why Raoul gestures for Christine to stay onstage, hm. Maybe it's because he sees what a vulnerable position she's put the Phantom in and he's afraid that if Christine leaves the Phantom will be able to collect his thoughts/dignity and plan quick escape. Yeah ... that really worked out well.

I think that makes sense--a sort of "keep him distracted" strategy. Whoops on Raoul's part. Laughing

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  Madame Giry on Mon Nov 30, 2009 4:11 pm

As for everyone else, I like to think that they know it's not Piangi out there--but they don't know that it is the Phantom. They may assume that Piangi was somehow incapable of going onstage and another singer jumped in to take his place (which, really, isn't that far from the truth) and are just operating under the "the show must go on" principle at this point.

That really does seem like a more realistic approach than my idea of the audience being enthralled by the Phantom's voice. The people behind the scenes and in the audience might indeed recognize that the new Don Juan is not Piangi, but at the same time they might not make that connection that this incredibly talented (ignoring Gerik here) replacement is the Phantom, especially since he is obscured by the hooded robe. Good call, LCD! Smile

I still think that as far as Christine goes, it would be impossible for her to not recognize that the Phantom is onstage with her on some level. She is so intimately familiar with his voice at this point that it's hardly like she'd mistake him for someone else. Again I raise my idea of her being in something of a trance, reflective of her past encounters with him, and she only snaps back to reality when she feels the mask under the hood.

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  Madame Giry on Mon Nov 30, 2009 4:24 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RmaXLOJ7eU&feature=related - Found this old video from 1988 of the PonR scene with MC and Sarah (apparently taped from Bravo channel, so relax, copyright censors!)

There are some interesting differences. I noticed that Christine does not feel the Phantom's mask under the hood at all. Rather, after he stands, you can see the mask under the hood and at that point she gets a wide-eyed, panicky look on her face (that is more wide-eyed and panicky than Sarah normally looks in the role Wink) that signifies her realization of who's under the cloak before she removes the hood and exposes his identify to everyone else.

Does anyone know when the mask-feeling bit was incorporated into the show? Was it a directorial choice by Hal Prince or just something that one Christine started and then others followed suit?

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  operafantomet on Mon Nov 30, 2009 5:06 pm

Madame Giry wrote:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RmaXLOJ7eU&feature=related - Found this old video from 1988 of the PonR scene with MC and Sarah (apparently taped from Bravo channel, so relax, copyright censors!)

There are some interesting differences. I noticed that Christine does not feel the Phantom's mask under the hood at all. Rather, after he stands, you can see the mask under the hood and at that point she gets a wide-eyed, panicky look on her face (that is more wide-eyed and panicky than Sarah normally looks in the role Wink) that signifies her realization of who's under the cloak before she removes the hood and exposes his identify to everyone else.
I was about to mention this. In the original blocking it appears Sarah Brightman's Christine is aware that it's the Phantom all along, but she's playing along - partly because she's instructed to do so by Raoul and co, partly because she seems a tad mezmerised. Originally the Phantom's mask/face was visible too, and only partly covered by his hood (depending on the angle).

I think I prefer that way of performing the scene. I do like the Italian accent attempts and the shocked reactions of various Christines (Rachel Barrell almost running off stage and the spotlight going black was definitely to my liking!). But I've never found it convincing.

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  SenorSwanky on Mon Nov 30, 2009 6:24 pm

I'm not a fan of the Italian accents or over-operatization (is that a word? Laughing ) by Phantoms trying to sound like Piangis. I like to think the Phantom knows he's not going to be shot onstage, that the guards think they're going to catch him somewhere else, like in Box 5, and that they aren't going to endanger Christine by firing a shot in her direction (since the Phantom nearly is always right next to her during the scene). I also prefer the interpretation that Christine knows it's the Phantom the entire time; she, of anyone, knows his voice anywhere. And I think the Phantom wants her to know it's him, since he has planned to kill Piangi and appear in this scene all along--it's in the lyrics, which he wrote blatantly to refer to his situation with Christine. So I like Phantoms like Peter Karrie and Brad Little who lay the sly and seductive on thick in this scene.

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  Mandrake on Mon Nov 30, 2009 9:32 pm

I think she realises- at least that something's up- when his hand brushes against her breast. I wonder whether it's the unscripted intimacy or the fact that the hand doing the brushing is, I think, his ring hand. She does seem to glance suddenly and sharply down, as though noticing something. Perhaps it's more recognition of the ring than the touch, as I think an actress would not react in the way Christine does if she had the opportunity to interpret it as an accidental or even lecherous grope by Piangi (rather than Phantom). Piangi's character in this scene is, after all, very lecherous; it would be in keeping for him to try a grope. Her fearful, shocked reaction seems to be more a breaking of character than an actress portraying an offended woman.

But she keeps going until apparently feeling the mask before shrieking and running off. I don't know if this is her true moment of realisation or just her oscillating back to the "sensible" other half of her personality. I particularly like PoNR as it can seem a condensation or fulcrum of the show; Phantom hidden, exposed, advancing, rejected and Christine chasing, pursued, attracted, repelled.

I, too, would prefer the Phantom to sing it in his natural accent rather than mock Italian.

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  LadyCDaae on Tue Dec 01, 2009 1:34 am

Allow me to clarify--I do think Christine recognizes its the Phantom on some level (in fact, I find it hard to believe she does NOT recognize the voice which had been her constant companion for months), but the knowledge is mostly repressed for the balance of the scene. I'm not sure if I'm explaining it very well but it works for me. Smile

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  Stephanie on Tue Dec 01, 2009 2:09 am

I asked Sandra Joseph about this years ago when I wondered if Christine knew it was the Phantom during the entire scene. I personally thought that the character did (and I agree with those of you that thinks that Christine knows it is him on some level).

However, Sandra informed me that she was directed to play the character as if she did know that it was him until she feels the mask near the end of the song.

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  phantomgirl110 on Tue Dec 01, 2009 8:47 am

Another possible explanation, somewhat similar to LadyCDaae's method acting idea, is that Christine is so focused on keeping herself together for the role that she's too distracted to realize that something is terribly amiss. We know from "Notes II/Twisted Every Way" that she's horrified to participate in this scheme at all, so she would certainly be more anxious than ever during the performance, what with the knowledge that a murderer and several armed police officers are lurking around with every eye trained on her. And that's not even taking into account the audience members who have no idea anything is out of place, or the cast and crew members who are counting on her to carry the show in spite of all of this. I think it would take every ounce of concentration she has to perform at all!

On top of that, we know that Christine is so haunted by the Phantom at this point that, "even when he is not there, my ears are full of his sighs," to quote Leroux's Christine. She spends quite awhile at the Masquerade being frightened by one dance partner after another as they all seem to be replicas of the Phantom, though none of them are. It's all with good reason of course, since he appears just about everywhere she goes, but I think it's entirely plausible to say that Christine is such a nervous wreck while playing Aminta that she hears the Phantom's voice and forces herself to believe that she's imagining things, just to keep herself in as much control as possible. I'm sure she would like to believe that Raoul and the managers have things under control, and that what she thinks she's hearing can't possibly be what she's really hearing. And then, of course, she feels the mask and that pretty illusion comes crashing down.

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  operafantomet on Tue Dec 01, 2009 8:59 am

You know what, that's a pretty good point. Never thought of it that way.

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  LadyCDaae on Tue Dec 01, 2009 3:20 pm

phantomgirl110 wrote:
On top of that, we know that Christine is so haunted by the Phantom at this point that, "even when he is not there, my ears are full of his sighs," to quote Leroux's Christine. She spends quite awhile at the Masquerade being frightened by one dance partner after another as they all seem to be replicas of the Phantom, though none of them are. It's all with good reason of course, since he appears just about everywhere she goes, but I think it's entirely plausible to say that Christine is such a nervous wreck while playing Aminta that she hears the Phantom's voice and forces herself to believe that she's imagining things, just to keep herself in as much control as possible. I'm sure she would like to believe that Raoul and the managers have things under control, and that what she thinks she's hearing can't possibly be what she's really hearing. And then, of course, she feels the mask and that pretty illusion comes crashing down.

That would work too--I can easily believe that Christine thinks she's cracking with all the stress she's under.

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  Josephine on Wed Dec 02, 2009 7:56 am

I like that explanation, Phantomgirl. It makes sense, even more so than the method acting approach (though that it rather good, too).

And as for why Raoul makes Christine stay on stage: I believe that at that point, he doesn't know yet that the Phantom has replaced Piangi. He only sees Christine trying to get away and probably thinks she's so scared of what might happen that she wants to abort the plan. Afraid that his plan will be ruined if she leaves, he makes her stay.

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  LadyCDaae on Wed Dec 02, 2009 3:34 pm

Except the business referred to takes place after Christine has ripped the Phantom's cowl off--by which point if Raoul isn't at least aware that something is amiss, he really hasn't been paying attention.

On a related topic, I must say that the scene prior to this one has always perplexed me a little. What, apart from showing off the theater sound system, is the Phantom attempting to accomplish here? If I were in his position of having the enormous tactical advantage of being able to listen in on my enemies' conversations and come and go through channels they have no knowledge of, the last thing I would want to do is alert them to that fact for the sake of a little showmanship. Through the course of this thread I have finally hit upon an explanation that makes sense to me, but I would like to hear other people's thoughts on the question before contributing my own.

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  Josephine on Wed Dec 02, 2009 4:57 pm

I think the Phantom just wants to taunt Raoul and the others and their great plan. You know, "Look, I'm right here among you. I can come and go as I please, and you've got on way of stopping me".

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  Raphael on Sat Dec 05, 2009 11:28 pm

phantom10906 wrote:I think the really scary thing is the fact that Christine is, in retrospect, suppose to be singing the song with Piangi. Laughing
And she has, in fact. In all the rehearsals leading up to the premiere. There's a thought that will keep you warm at night.

SenorSwanky wrote:I like to think the Phantom knows he's not going to be shot onstage, that the guards think they're going to catch him somewhere else, like in Box 5
Indeed, since they have a marksman in the pit with a bead on that box.

and that they aren't going to endanger Christine by firing a shot in her direction (since the Phantom nearly is always right next to her during the scene).
Ah, using Christine as a human shield. Yet another charming quality of our dear Erik Smile

LadyCDaae wrote:On a related topic, I must say that the scene prior to this one has always perplexed me a little. What, apart from showing off the theater sound system, is the Phantom attempting to accomplish here? If I were in his position of having the enormous tactical advantage of being able to listen in on my enemies' conversations and come and go through channels they have no knowledge of, the last thing I would want to do is alert them to that fact for the sake of a little showmanship.
Well, Erik lists ventriloquism amongst his many talents (maybe he ought to get his own show on Comedy Central), so I think that scene is more about him throwing Raoul and the rest off-balance by seeming to be everywhere while in reality he's tucked away safely in Box Five.

Interesting theories here, from being enraptured by Erik's voice to understudies to a leading lady on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I like it Very Happy

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  SenorSwanky on Sun Dec 06, 2009 2:19 am

Raphael wrote:Well, Erik lists ventriloquism amongst his many talents (maybe he ought to get his own show on Comedy Central)
[in Achmed's voice:] That's E-R-I-phlegm.

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  LadyCDaae on Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:17 pm

Raphael wrote:
Well, Erik lists ventriloquism amongst his many talents (maybe he ought to get his own show on Comedy Central), so I think that scene is more about him throwing Raoul and the rest off-balance by seeming to be everywhere while in reality he's tucked away safely in Box Five.

This is actually pretty close to what I eventually decided: he wants Raoul and the police to doubt their senses. If they can't be sure that it's really the Phantom onstage, they're less likely to blunder in and risk alerting him that something's afoot (or worse yet, hurting an innocent person).

Really, with Erik's strong penchant for illusion and deception, it's not entirely surprising nobody figures out what's going on for several minutes...

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  auctioneer on Sun Jan 03, 2010 7:55 pm

These are interesting ideas. It's something I've wondered about many times before.

Just to throw something else into the mix -- several times when I've seen this scene, I notice that Firmin/Andre say something along the lines of "You have a duty!" very quietly to Christine while they motion for her to keep going on stage. Maybe the idea is to keep public confusion to a minimum, since the falling chandelier during a performance the previous year, among other things, was bad for business and the reputation of the Opera Populaire. Maybe Firmin and Andre (as well as Raoul, the patron) are just concerned with the image of the place and want to ensure that the performance follows through to the end. After all, how would the audience know that pulling back Piangi/Phantom's hood to reveal a mask isn't part of the show?

Of course, then it all goes to pot when he proposes to Christine on stage and gets unmaksed! Just my thoughts.


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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  Riene on Mon Jan 04, 2010 2:26 am

phantomgirl110 wrote:Another possible explanation, somewhat similar to LadyCDaae's method acting idea, is that Christine is so focused on keeping herself together for the role that she's too distracted to realize that something is terribly amiss. We know from "Notes II/Twisted Every Way" that she's horrified to participate in this scheme at all, so she would certainly be more anxious than ever during the performance, what with the knowledge that a murderer and several armed police officers are lurking around with every eye trained on her. And that's not even taking into account the audience members who have no idea anything is out of place, or the cast and crew members who are counting on her to carry the show in spite of all of this. I think it would take every ounce of concentration she has to perform at all!

On top of that, we know that Christine is so haunted by the Phantom at this point that, "even when he is not there, my ears are full of his sighs," to quote Leroux's Christine. She spends quite awhile at the Masquerade being frightened by one dance partner after another as they all seem to be replicas of the Phantom, though none of them are. It's all with good reason of course, since he appears just about everywhere she goes, but I think it's entirely plausible to say that Christine is such a nervous wreck while playing Aminta that she hears the Phantom's voice and forces herself to believe that she's imagining things, just to keep herself in as much control as possible. I'm sure she would like to believe that Raoul and the managers have things under control, and that what she thinks she's hearing can't possibly be what she's really hearing. And then, of course, she feels the mask and that pretty illusion comes crashing down.

I like both of these points and have considered them as viable options for that scene. Another thought to add to the mix is that maybe Christine is also trying to be professional--stay focused, don't screw up the play for the audience--no matter what else is going on around her. She's got a lot on her plate that night--psycho stalker Erik, lover Raoul, big performance, various armed gendarmes, annoyed managers, her own career to think of, opinions from everyone....hey, no pressure there Christine. If she's a little slow to put two and two together to make five, it's no surprise.

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  Loettchen on Thu Apr 01, 2010 7:24 pm

LadyCDaae wrote:On a related topic, I must say that the scene prior to this one has always perplexed me a little. What, apart from showing off the theater sound system, is the Phantom attempting to accomplish here? If I were in his position of having the enormous tactical advantage of being able to listen in on my enemies' conversations and come and go through channels they have no knowledge of, the last thing I would want to do is alert them to that fact for the sake of a little showmanship. Through the course of this thread I have finally hit upon an explanation that makes sense to me, but I would like to hear other people's thoughts on the question before contributing my own.
~LCD

This did always strike me as a bit of gimmickry, but I'm always surprised by how many people in the audience turn their heads and look for him each time, so I guess it works.

But I think it works out ok from a character's standpoint. I think he wants them to know that he knows their plan, both to rattle and confuse them and to damage their confidence. That guy in the pit will think twice before shooting again. Plus, I've always thought he just likes lording it over people and showing off. In the novel, the Persian says Erik is like a vain child, who likes people to know how clever he is, and Erik admits that he is overly dramatic. In the musical, it's similar to the events of the Il Muto Ballet, where the Phantom might as well have written a sign that said "Hey, I'm backstage with a noose!" Increased chance of getting caught, but way more showmanship and notoriety. Possibly it proves how untouchable he thinks he is. And I always figured he amuses himself with that stuff. You gotta think, the guy spent his whole life as a sort of performer/entertainer. Or at least, those are some ideas, anyway.

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Re: Don Juan and the Plotholes of Doom

Post  LadyCDaae on Thu Apr 01, 2010 9:58 pm

Good point. The man always did have a sense of the theatrical--one of the things I like about him, actually. Very Happy

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