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The Complete Phantom of the Opera (1988)
     by George Perry


This is one of those Famous Works in the Phantom community, making it mildly professionally embarrassing that I haven't reviewed it before now. After all, a lot more people have probably read this nonfiction volume than Hogle's and Flynn's combined, but to all things their season. This book is the official companion volume to the 1986 Lloyd Webber musical, and includes information on the production, its first run with its original cast (primarily in London, although the Broadway production is also referenced), a brief overview of other versions of the story that preceded it, and the entire libretto for the show.

First of all, the production values on this book are off the charts. Granted, they're off the charts for the late 1980s, so the style is different; modern readers may find the lushly colorful layout and heavy formality of parts confusing or old-fashioned, but they were the height of luxurious at the time the book came out. Imagine the most sinful of 1980s romance novels, the sort with covers covered in blue velvet and strings of pearls and laces strewn artistically everywhere, and you'll have about the right approximation of the vibe here.

Part One: Origins

The New Opera House

This section is dedicated to discussing the history of the Paris Opera House, the Palais Garnier, and for my money is one of the more interesting parts of the book (an opinion I assume most people coming to this for details on the show don't share, but most people are not me and my years in this particular trench). We get a fun overview of Paris' operatic history, briefly covering the previous opera houses before the building of the Garnier and the events leading up to its construction. The revelation that Napoleon III was almost assassinated in a bombing in front of the previous opera house by Felice Orsini, who was pissed off that Napoleon had withdrawn his previous support for Italian national politics, was especially fun; the building was significantly damaged and Napoleon apparently felt that the bad memories were worth getting rid of it entirely, and the decision was made to build the Garnier instead. (The actual bombing itself was not fun. Eight people died and over 150 were injured. It's neat that the Orisini bomb is named after this specific incident, however, as at the time it was a new invention.)

None of the actual information about Garnier himself is as necessary to our lives as this political cartoon of him running around with the building under his arm like an escaped goose.


















It is a lovel day at the Paris Opera House, and you are a horrible architect.

The book uses a somewhat tongue-in-cheek tone for its drier sections, which can be nice since it's a break from everything sounding very Academic and Formal. In particular, the line that delicately says that when Napoleon was blowing up streets left and right to build his new opera house, the Butte St. Roche was an "obstacle" is pretty funny. Given that it is a massive cathedral that had been a staple of Paris since the late 1600s and that he would have won a shiny one-way ticket to an angry-mob assbeating if he'd torn it down, this is something of an understatement. (He still suffered from some bad press when the building of the Place de l'Opera next to it caused the belltower to destabilize and have to be rebuilt.)

The book goes on to discuss the process of choosing an architect, noting that Charles Garnier, then a 35-year-old nobody who'd done some projects but wasn't especially well-known, won over 170 other applicants. Given that he sort of came out of nowhere (relative to famous architects, anyway), I wonder if that might be one of the reasons authors have always been so fond of inserting him into the Phantom story, or even removing him completely and replacing him with the Phantom himself, a likewise nobody from nowhere full of unappreciated genius.

Brief mention is made of the underground lake, including some neat details about its engineering. Since filling your foundations with a lake tends to result in not having foundations anymore because they sink into the mud, Garnier and his team used steam pumps (very radical then) to lower the entire water table of this part of Paris so that the lake was also drained. An ingenious move but also an unfortunate one, as it notes that a lot of peoples' wells were permanently destroyed or dried up by the same maneuver. Garnier then rebuilt the lake after destroying it, this time with controllable foundations and shoreline, although in a pretty hilarious turn of events it turns out that it still wrecks the foundations and so they have to drain it every few years for maintenance before refilling it. (Quick, modern-day Phantom story where he's a lake technician!)

The book also proudly notes here that the Garnier is the largest opera house in the world for sheer size (it notes La Scala in Milan, Italy as beating it for having the most seats). This book was published in the 1980s, of course, so time marches on and so do the grandiose dreams of opera house architects, but it's interesting that it's hard to corroborate this information. A quick glance shows me that La Scala has just over 2,000 seats, making it definitely larger seating-wise than the Garnier, but also that several other famous opera houses, including the Met in New York and the Royal Opera House in London, have more than that. The Met has well over 3,000 seats and did when it opened, too, which makes this assertion confusing in both directions. After prodding at it for a while, I have to assume that they meant that when the Garnier opened it was the largest in the world except for La Scala, which would at the time be true as the Teatro Colón in Argentina and the Sydney Opera House in Australia didn't exist yet and Covent Garden was between renovations, but that still doesn't explain the Met. Maybe they meant just in Europe and got overzealous with the whole "worldwide" thing.

By the way, do y'all find it interesting how much work this book puts into the opera house itself? It's of course very important to the entire Phantom story, but it strikes me that it's also been a big deal that the Lloyd Webber musical this book is about has never played at the Garnier or anywhere else in France, even in 2016 when it was supposed to (it was supposed to go up at the Mogador in Paris, but a fire delayed the production and it ended up being shuttered without a performance run). It's a logical place to provide background to the musical, since it is the setting of the story, but also an amusing bit of irony.

The book glosses past the Franco-Prussian War, which is understandable since by definition very little fun was being had at the time, and shoots straight on to the Communard Rebellion in 1870, giving an overview of how the Garnier was used to store food, weapons, and a pretty entertaining one million liters of wine. By the second part of the rebellion, it was also the command center and makeshift prison for the rebels, although it's careful to note that while we're pretty sure prisoners were held there, it was probably very few and under special circumstances.

The book discusses masquerade balls as well, which is really nice for us Phantom aficionados! According to the text, masquerade balls were common at the opera and had a reputation for being wild scenes of debauchery, and one such ball was held to open it officially as well as many times afterward. The masquerade in the Phantom story therefore would have been familiar to Leroux's readers, who would have read it as a wild night of sexy shenanigans among rich people, adding to the spice of the Phantom crashing it and all the whispering and nefarious doings going on throughout the night.

Perry gives a concrete date for when electric lights were installed in the opera house: 1881, to replace the existing gasoliers (did you know the word for a chandelier that runs on gas? you do now! strangely, we apparently decided to break the pattern and not informally call our new ones "electroliers" which is honestly a crying shame since that is the actual word for them - "chandelier" refers to candles we no longer use!). The original chandelier weighed seven tons, was entirely hand-cut glass pieces, and was designed by Garnier himself. So I'll have to issue an even sterner peering-over-the-glasses at Forsyth's 1991 novel, in which he moved the entire time period a whole century and claimed it was because the original story was impossible without electricity. (I still disagree that it was impossible, but now it's even funnier that they already HAD electricity in at least parts of the building in the original time period and he still moved it.)

He then goes on to give us a recap of the real-life chandelier incident, with more details than we usually get from throwaway articles about the Phantom's real existence or lack thereof: according to Perry, a short-circuit in the new wiring caused a fire, which ate away at the chain holding up the chandelier. It eventually caused the chain to break, and while the chandelier stayed in the air, its 1700-pound counterweight fell THROUGH the ceiling, smashed through the balcony above, and finally landed on the poor woman who was killed by it. It's much more of a horrific engineering accident situation, but you can still see how the incident might inspire a writer to make it instead a Ghostly Shenanigans situation.

A real strength in this section is its inclusion of details about the internal decor and themes of the building; we hear about the external architecture a lot, but not always the design work that went on inside (beyond Chagall's famous ceiling, anyway). I especially enjoyed is note that the sculptures of womens' heads in the Grand Foyer, one at all four doors, are meant to represent the different types of lighting that the opera house has used over the years: tallow candles, then oil, then gas, then finally electricity.

The Man Behind the Phantom

This section is dedicated to Leroux himself, and goes over a bit of biography for him as well as tracing his writing career. It starts off with a cute anecdote about Leroux being born in Paris entirely by accident as his parents were in the middle of traveling when he came along, which he then makes Very Dramatic with his retelling of how as an adult, he went back to the house he was born in, only to discover that it was now an undertaker parlor and to intone sadly, "Where I sought a cradle, I found a coffin." Words that could have come right out of his character's mouth!

The biography covers most of the same ground Leroux biographies usually do - he was a lawyer but he hated it, so he quit and was a drama critic which is very funny for the Phantom story, then he quit THAT and became an investigative reporter - but it does a good job of giving us a coherent narrative and tying in the elements of his life that may have shaped his work. It notes that he was famous as a journalist for his dramatic scoops and somewhat less-than-legal undercover adventures, so he forms a sort of proto-archetype for the Investigative Journalist that authors now use as a stock figure in thrillers.

Anyway, Leroux contained multitudes: he saw some guillotinings and became a lifelong opponent of capital punishment, but he also tended to do things like quit his job by yelling obscenities at his boss over the phone for waking him up too early in the morning. (Honestly, the man is an icon.) The book also here repeats the apocryphal anecdote that Leroux would celebrate whenever he finished a manuscript by firing his revolver into the air on his balcony, presumably at least annoying and probably seriously frightening the neighbors.

I was not aware of a few other neat tidbits in here, starting with the fact that Leroux's longest book, La reine du sabbat (The Queen of the Sabbath), is over 300,000 words and was was one of the longest novels in existence at the time. I was also interested to learn that he apparently coined the espionage term "the fifth column" that you still occasionally hear in political thrillers and on the news, as he invented it for his book La colonne infernale (The Infernal Column). The book also credits him with inventing the use of the term faction to refer to political groups, although the word itself is older and has been around at least since Middle French.

I have to pause here and take back every amused, snarky, or cute thing I have ever said about authors putting Leroux in their Phantom-related stories, because Leroux himself ALSO LOVED TO DO THIS, APPARENTLY. He inserted himself into his own work more than once, such as when he meets his detective Rouletabille face to face in Le parfum de la dame en noir (The Perfume of the Lady in Black) as a character within the story. Not only does this make putting Leroux in your stories a time-honored tradition now, but it also puts a slightly new spin on the whole framing device of the novel; sure, Leroux could be writing as an unnamed neutral narrator who happens to be a reporter, but it's much funnier if he's just writing as himself, Leroux, and making himself a character because after all, why write in a journalist to spread the word when you already have a ready-made journalist in yourself?

The First Story

This section is a recap of the premise of the original 1910/11 serialized novel, explaining the plot and inspirations and giving a brief read-through of the story. Most folks interested in the Phantom story beyond having seen it once or twice probably already know the information here, but I do want to pause and note that the original London production hired Robert Heindel, an American artist known as the "Degas of our time", to do paintings of the pre-production for both this show and Cats, and the results are wonderful:










I'm not an art critic, but the indistinct style and suggestive emotive quality really work for the capturing the show. There are nine different plates of Heindel's work in here and they're more than worth the price of admission.

Part Two: On Film

Lon Chaney's Phantom

This part deals with film adaptations of the story, so of course Lon Chaney's celebrated 1925 version of the story is the first one up. It starts with the production history, and while we've probably read most of the material on Carl Laemmle and his studio back in the 1999 Riley book, it is neat to have it note that Laemmle actually originally made his career on nickelodeons (and if you only know that word from the TV network, check out the history of the five-cent movie theaters, because it's fascinating!).

Anyway, Perry repeats the same story Riley did about Laemmle meeting Leroux in France, reading the book over the course of an evening and rushing off to make it; a more prosaic detail I don't remember from Riley is the mention that since the studio was actually filming their adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the time, they already had sets for Paris and therefore it was also a much less expensive option for the next film.

Perry also spends some time here talking about the production, noting how impressive the engineering required was for the time period; unfortunately, while he is now wrong that Universal's Soundstage 28 is still standing and that the set was reused for countless other films, he was right until 2014, when it was demolished to make space for new theme park plans. (At least we can be cheered that Universal preserved the opera house facade and has plans to display it, although the rest of the set, which at the time was the oldest surviving movie set in the world, was completely destroyed.)

We get a lot of very familiar production information, including the spats between Julian and Chaney, Chaney's backseat directing, the Conkin comedy scenes being spliced in to make the movie more "exciting" at Laemmle's request, the plot differences between the original endings, and so on. Entertainingly, the text pauses purely to make fun of poor James Cagney for coming "nowhere near" being Lon Chaney when he played him in the 1957 biopic Man of a Thousand Faces. Sorry, Cagney. I mean, they're right, but there's no reason to be rude about it. None of the rest of us can be Chaney, either.

There was a neat anecdote in here that I hadn't heard before that may help explain why Britain is especially unimpressed by the Phantom story until the advent of the Lloyd Webber musical in the 1980s: apparently someone on the publicist's team for the 1925 film really bungled the operation up by trying to create buzz and excitement by having soldiers publicly "escort" the film prints when they arrived in the country, to highlight how sensational they were and how secretive the production had been to prevent anyone from seeing the footage early. Unfortunately, Britain was between World Wars at the time and the public was outraged by what they saw as a misuse of the military for trivial reasons, and there was such an outcry that the movie was actually banned for a few years, becoming legal to watch again in 1928, by which time the interest had died down and the movie quietly fell into obscurity.

Other Visions:

This section is the catch-all zone for ALL other film versions; only Chaney's got to have its own limelight. Since this was written in the late 1980s, you won't see some of the greatest hits, like the wackiness of the 1998 Argento/Sands film or the horrific demon-pacts of the 1989 Little/Englund film (hell, this book was probably coming out at about the same time as The Phantom of the Mall, so it's early in Phantom film history still!).

We start with the 1943 Lubin/Rains film, which we learn was actually recast; the original production was designed for Deanna Durbin (Universal's answer to rival MGM's Judy Garland) and Broderick Crawford (a b-movie romantic lead still a few years out from his Oscar-winning role in the original All the King's Men), but when World War II broke out, Crawford was drafted to the Air Force and everything had to be redone. Development hell continued for a while as Crawford's replacement, former stage actor and heavy-hitter Charles Laughton who had just done the remake of the The Hunchback of Notre Dame for Universal, dropped out and Durbin got fed up and followed suit, leaving us to end up with the young, untested teenager Susanna Foster finally taking over as Christine.

In among the slightly tediuos recap of the differences in plot between this and the original story, we also get some information about the music, namely that not only Martha was created for the movie but also the two fake operas Amour et Gloire and Le Prince de Caucasie that we hear during the film, which are actually made up of music by Chopin and Tchaikovsky, respectively. (A nice inspiration point for Hill's 1984 musical!) It also notes that the film doesn't have a masquerade sequence not because they wanted to cut it, but because on a wartime budget they simply didn't have the money to rebuild the 1925 film's grand foyer and staircase set.

Onward to the 1962 Fisher/Lom horror film! It's surreal to now know that for many British watchers, this was probably the first time the Phantom entered the public cultural consciousness, and what a weird Phantom to choose for that, with his one eye, tragic backstory, evil assistant, and inexplicable sewer nest. The book notes that the movie used the Wimbledon Theatre in London in place of building a set for the nonexistent London Opera House, and that the 1962 film is really an adaptation of the 1943 one rather than the original source material, which goes a long way toward explaining how frigging weird it is.


Interestingly, it also mentions in passing that there would be a stage play adaptation at Wimbledon a few years later in 1975, albeit based more on Leroux's work than any of the films. It lists David Giles as the director, Edward Petherbridge as Erik, Sharon Duce as Christine, and Keith Drinkel as Raoul. I was aware of this production, but it's always nice to find out more details, since it's not like it's ever coming again. (There's an old poster of it up over here, though!)

This book gets the very nice distinction of being one of few overviews on Phantom adaptations that remembers to include the 1974 Levitt/Cassidy film The Phantom of Hollywood, and even to offer a few details (nothing new, mostly concerning how it was probably conceived of as a way to take some footage of the already-scheduled backlot footage and make something out of it).

On we go to the 1983 Markowitz/Schell movie (here listed as 1982, although I can't find anywhere else that agrees so I'll assume it's a typo), which Perry doesn't seem to like any more than anyone else. I'm genuinely not sure why people hate this adaptation so much; it certainly sins less than some of the other, more popular ones, and while Perry dismissively calls it "unfaithful", he doesn't explain why he thinks it's any more so than the divergent plots of the 1943 and 1962 films. But anyway, the book gives it some nice background details as well, identifying the brewery that served as the set for the tunnels beneath the opera house.

Now, a quick shuffle back in time to pick up the 1974 de Palma/Finley rock adaptation Phantom of the Paradise, which Perry seems deeply ambivalent about. After giving an overview of the plot, he praises it for its radicalism but complains that it isn't "coherent", and goes on to call it "part pop-rock spectacle, part comic-strip send-up" while arguing that this is what keeps it falling short of greatness. I don't happen to agree, for the record; I'd say that de Palma does a very good job of making a pop-rock parody spectacle coherent and incisive. I suspect Perry is not interested in the same things I am, though, if his frankly condescendingly wistful note about how "one wonders" what de Palma "might have achieved" if he'd tried to do a faithful adaptation instead. I'm sure de Palma COULD do a bang-up job of a faithful adaptation, but it seems pretty obvious to me that this movie was not trying to BE a faithful adaptation and it seems a little bizarre to try to grade it as if it were.

I appreciate Perry actively calling out the weird film trend to make all the Phantoms gain their disfigurements via action onscreen instead of being congenitally deformed; as of this glorious year of 2022, my informal count comes up with only seven or eight films that feature a congenital source for the Phantom's physical problems, with the other fifty-seven going for an injury, illness, or curse that happens to an originally average-looking guy instead (not including the ones where the guy doesn't have a deformity at all, of course). Perry opines that filmmakers prefer to show a tragedy befalling a "normal" person to encourage audience sympathy; he's right, but doesn't go the final step to recognize that this is, essentially, just a form of catering to ableism by assuming that only "normal" people who become disabled are worthy of sympathy, and people who "came that way" are much less interesting or sympathetic.

Perry's snide little note that it's pretty funny that these johnny-come-lately Phantoms all seem to still have a whole underground lair and come equipped with extensive influence in the arts in spite of not having THAT backstory anymore made me snort.

Part 3: The Lloyd Webber Version

The Phantom Triumphant:

And now we have finally arrived at the main event. This book does a pretty decent job of talking about Phantom history, but its real focus is the history and impact of the Lloyd Webber musical, and it goes into it in depth here.

Before we get to Lloyd Webber, however, we have a brief detour to look at previous stgae versions of the story, primarily the 1984 Hill musical that Lloyd Webber was inspired by. Perry calls the show "rumbustious and unashamedly camp", which makes me wonder if there were some important staging effects going on in the live show that we all miss out on when we review it from the soundtrack. I definitely wouldn't use either descriptor for the show in spite of its occasional cutesiness, partly because oft he haunting grand-opera score and partly because it's actually doing a reasonable job of being faithful to the original in some areas, but it's also possible that Perry is referring to the now-lost original 1976 version of Hill's show, which had original music with a pop sensibility. (But then again, maybe not. The bit where Lloyd Webber cites Hill's show as the basis from which he wants to do "something like The Rocky Horror Show", which definitely does sound like the campy 1976 version, but then a second later they mention the operatic score, which didn't exist until the 1984 version, so your guess is as good as mine. Maybe I just have higher standards for what counts as "camp" in the 1980s.)

There's a lot of juicy information in here about Lloyd Webber's process when writing this; in particular, it's surprising to read that he did not originally intend to actually compose the score, planning, much like the Hill production, to use existing operatic music instead. If you're a person who likes to know who joined this project and when and for what part, this is the chapter for you (right down to the oft-repeated anecdote about Sarah Brightman, who originated the role of Christine in the Lloyd Webber production, originally being slated to do the same in the Hill musical only to be prevented by a scheduling conflict). The lyricist carousel is especially complicated, with its revelation that Charles Hart was the third choice for the show, after first choice Jay Lerner was too ill with cancer and second choice Tim Rice was busy with his own smash hit Chess.

He also mentions his original version involving a lot more "Raiders-type chases through the underground labyrinth", which were eventually left by the wayside to attempt a more romantic version of the plot as opposed to a thriller or adventure story. Lloyd Webber and producer Hal Prince are quoted discussing that doing a grand romantic show was surprising at the time, as in the early 1980s most new theatre was either "all comedy" or "bitter". This would be right around the time that Menken & Ashman's Little Shop of Horrors and Yeston & Kopit's Nine were the big shows to watch, so I can't argue with that assessment much!

Lloyd Webber is quoted here as saying that he added the performance of Don Juan Triumphant, the climax of the show, because he was trying to solve the problem of how much less dramatic and impactful the unmasking of the Phantom is on a stage than it is in film, where you can do dramatic close-ups and musical stings and so on. His solution, to have the Phantom's terrible opera performed, is a really neat one; not only is it more dramatically visible when he's onstage, but it makes him intensely vulnerable and makes the horror of his unmasking therefore more shocking as the audience realizes that he is in public and cannot hide, and the show also gets to have its fake "audience" of the other actors panic, communicating their fear and shock to the real one. As offended as the original Erik might have been about the idea of his music being played in public, it's an elegant dramatic solution.

For all you daroga conspiracy theorists out there, Lloyd Webber is also quoted here as saying that he removed the daroga from the story largely because he wanted to focus on the love triangle and felt that with the Persian there, it had too much of a mystery vibe instead of a romance. (An ironic statement, as we've already talked ad nauseum about how his version of the character of Madame Giry just does the exact same things anyway. Maybe he feels it's different because she's a local to the story instead of a traveler from afar?)

There's an excellent little section here on Gillian Lynne, the choreographer, and her training regimen for the cast, which included training them in traditional Parisian ballet and un-training them from Russian ballet, which at the time of the Phantom story was not yet popular in the western world. This is a neat thing I'd never have thought of, but it makes sense; Russian ballet is so quintessential now that a lot of what we tend to think of as basic or stock forms are Russian, too, but French ballet at the time would have been more concerned with round curves and less with long extensions, and other dance words that are beyond my ken. (Along with Maria Björnson's incredibly detailed costumes, Lynne's choreography is probably one of the driving forces behind the show's beloved aesthetics and overall popularity. Oh, and she's also responsible for the casting of Steve Barton as the original Raoul, as she'd worked with him before as a dance captain on another show and brought him in when the original casting fell through.)

And speaking of verisimilitude onstage, the production also hired Paul Daniels, a professional illusionist, who designed multiple professional-level magic tricks and illusions for the show so that the Phantom's shenanigans would be faithfully recreated (and, of course, it never hurts to have a little more now-you-see-it in a stage show anyway). It's especially neat to know that the master magician's actor gets to do master magic onstage, and yet another way the show works hard to really immerse its audience.

Entertainingly, Prince and Lloyd Webber apparently wanted the show to be mounted at the London Opera House, better known today as the Savoy Theatre in the West End; obviously it had been designed for opera and seemed like a perfect fit, but Schönberg & Boubil's Les Miserables was still running (and while the production moved around, it continued on until 2019 so it was a good call not to try to wait it out) and they were forced to opt for the backup option of Her Majesty's Theatre instead. Apparently Lloyd Webber hadn't wanted Her Majesty's because he'd recently seen his show Jeeves bomb there in 1975, but the bad vibes don't appear to have affected the Phantom production very much.

Prince's pride in the staging really comes across especially well when he talks about technology; in particular, the production used (and still uses, presumably) a lot of machinery and props that were "low-tech" in the hopes of being more realistic to the time period. Prince boasts that "we could have staged it the same way had we opened when the theatre was first built," and that is actually true, from the hydraulic stage machinery to the mirror-and-glass optical illusions. Which is very neat! The show's insistence on being as true-to-period as possible really pays off in audience immersion in a way that later shows (for example, cough, Lloyd Webber's sequel to this one) miss out on when they bring in 3D projectors and whatnot.

Interestingly, part of this discussion involves Prince and Lloyd Webber explaining that they really wanted the show to feel like something that could only be done in theatre - that is, its presentation, technology, and methods are ones that take full advantage of the stage format and couldn't be easily duplicated in a different one. As noted above, they succeeded at this like gangbusters, which may go a long way toward their complaints, decades later, about what a pain in the ass it was to try to adapt it for the 2004 film.

For readers who love Lloyd Webber's show, this section is really a feast for you. There are extensive photos from the backstage area of the original London show, including close-ups of props and costumes, rehearsal shots, photos from the dressing rooms, lingering detail on the deformity makeup designed by Christopher Tucker (who had previously also designed the makeup for the 1980 Academy Award winner The Elephant Man), and of course lush reproductions of the original publicity photos of the cast. There is also a truly excellent rundown on the building and set design that makes the show work, including engineering details on things like the staircase folding back into the stage after the masquerade and so on.

This is just one of the normal backstage photos, but I thought y'all might like to see it and know that even in the majors no one can keep their area of a dressing room clean for more than a quarter of a second.

Part 4: The Libretto

For many, this is probably the main event: the original libretto of the show, fully printed with stage directions and lyrics. It's a lovely reference, and its especially meaningful now that the show's long-running history and notorious-for-tinkering composer have changed the lyrics several times; this book came out less than two years after the show opened, and thus still preserves the original lyrics you may remember from your vintage cast albums.

Part 5: Acknowledgements

The acknowledgements section is cute, actually: it styles itself like a program, so while the original creative team, cast, and crew are all credited for the musical itself on one page, the author's acknowledgements are right next to it, as if printed in the same playbill. Perry makes a point of thanking not only the performers, cast, crew, and designers of the show, but also all the production companies involved, the staff of various booksellers that helped with research, and the librarian and photographer of the Opera Garnier. He also thanks Jane Rice, and he damn well should because in spite of being a blink-and-miss-it credit on this book, she was in charge of research and thus most of the interesting stuff we're learning about probably came from her.

And that's it, y'all. This is just a nice volume - obviously it's a little nicer if you're a Lloyd Webber lover, but even if you aren't, it's well-researched, attractively put together, and now contains a lot of collectors material. It does its job and does it well, and that's the highest praise you can really give a nonfiction book.

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