Sunday, July 26, 2015

Flattery, Camp Prep and AOA

After an exciting week last week (as any week involving Phantom of the Opera - related things is), this week was much more down to earth and average. 

I had a few classes left, but most of them were filler lessons with fun games.

After asking 3rd grade what was good and what they wanted to suggest for next semester (to which one boy responded "It would be nice if Christina Teacher would get married!"), we also asked the 4th graders what they thought. We got a lot of "more games!" and "more movies!" suggestions, and of course they don't want tests. Our most rambunctious class was the cutest. Some of them told Young Ah and me thanks for preparing fun games and working hard to make class fun. And then one boy added that I'm the most beautiful person he's ever seen (he amended this to "most beautiful foreigner" after Young Ah jokingly voiced her displeasure at this comment) and a few more chimed in that I was the nicest foreigner they have met.

Flattery will get you everywhere kids.

My sixth graders were watching Back To The Future with my co, so they just finished that in my class, and the 5th graders learned about some of the English speaking countries of the world. All in all an easy week. After classes, I prepped for summer camp, and by that I mean I did the grunt assembly work while my handler worked on reorganizing the book from previous camps that we have done.

envelope stuffing wheeeeee

I spent ALL morning Friday labeling the
notebooks and binding these workbooks.

We started our first day of camp in the afternoon. ONLY 9 more days of camp to go!!!

Besides that, I had an otherwise uneventful week filled with Korean classes. I did have a staff dinner on Wednesday, which was much less eventful in last year, because we didn't have a microphone (thank god). We saw a movie (Assassination, about Japanese Colonization and a big plot to kill some important dudes. There was a lot of betrayal and double crossing. It was still really interesting even though I can't relate and I didn't understand most of it). 

Then we went to a buffet for dinner, where I ended up sitting with the head teacher in the office, who is super nice and understands lots of English, but doesn't really speak it, so we used some Korean. She told me she was happy I was staying and that the office/school really likes me because I work hard and am smart and nice. She said that it was nice to have me and that they think "ah, if Americans are like Christina, that would be nice," so be right back while I cry. 

I told her I didn't imagine I would enjoy living here so much, and that I was so happy for a great school with nice and welcoming co workers. It was a tiring day/night being surrounded by Korean, but it was fulfilling and I'm happy~~

Happy about that, I had a good week.

Tried a new hairstyle and realized my mirror is gross

this label is super worried about how COLD
this drink is!  It was a delicious milkshake. 

"have a good vacation" cookies

I got to leave work early on Friday, after my handler and I finished cleaning up after our first day of camp. We had to clean the science room (we used it for cooking) and then we hard to carry a bunch of snacks up from the office and sort them out, so everyone else at school left at like 2 and we were there till a little after 3, but we have everything set up now so that's good. I headed to Hongdae and hung out in a cafe so I could do my homework and wait for my friends. 

This is super normal in Korea. This guy walked away
for at least 10 minutes and left his phone, wallet
and tablet on the table with no worries. Pretty
different from America

I met up with Lauren, Sarah and Cesca for some Noodlebox (a delicious, tiny noodle chain) and some mango bingsu. We got to catch up on pre-camp woes and relax out of the rain, because it's monsoon season and it's been raining on and off for the last week and will do so for the next week, again.

Unfortunately, it's still super humid, so that sucks. If it rains, it should get cooler!! Come on Korea...

Cesca came over after because we went to the dentist together on Saturday. The dentist used to be near Edae, but they moved closer to Itaewon, which meant a longer commute. After consulting 3 different apps and maps, we found it!

This is the first elevator I've seen
that doesn't use 4, because it sounds like the
word for "death" in Chinese characters

After running a few errands out there and getting soaked, we took the bus back to my area. 

Woot woot monsoon season

We spent Saturday trying to organize our thoughts and ideas for Veronica's visit in like 2 weeks, and we have a pretty good schedule ready, if time and weather cooperates. Please cross your fingers!!! We have some great ideas!

We also watched some k dramas and TV, of course. 

On Sunday, we stopped for a delicious lunch before dance class. 

pork cutlet kimbap. I've never tried it before. it was
delicious. We also got beef rib mandu, which was also awesome.
I haven't been eating at this restaurant that often but I'll
have to start going again!
Dance class didn't make me want to give up this week, so that was awesome! We learned a cute/sexy dance from a girl group this week, rather than a boy group. This week: Heart Attack!

AOA usually goes more sexy, but for summer comebacks they went cute/sexy. I think this is the catchiest of the summer girl comebacks. It was fun!!!

There will be a better video up later, hopefully, but Cesca also had Sarah take one of us during a practice run. She was having some problems with the video, so idk if you can view it, but try here.

We went out for chimaek with our teacher and some of our class. It was so fun and lots of good Korean practice!!!

And then it's back to school blues. Vacation is so close that this week, Sunday night seemed more disappointing and painful. While I have to stay at school all day each day, at least camp is only half days, so I will have lots of prep and relaxing time (I LOVE deskwarming, as we call it here when you have endless hours of just sitting at your desk ahead of you), so this week shouldn't be too bad. I have a good group of kids here for camp, and I'll get to know them a lot better, so that's good. 

The rain shows no signs of stopping (another typhoon may be passing or has already hit...? Nobody tells me these things, but I know one is coming or is near...), so I'm just hoping to not get soaked a bunch this week. Thankfully the weather will only be the LOW 80s this week instead of 90s like the last few. 

Stay cool, stay dry, and I hope all of your endeavors go well this week!


Because of my Phantom viewing last week, I spent a lot of time looking up old Park Hyo Shin songs while I was at my desk and bored, because I was curious about his singing style (remember, I only really discovered him through musicals, so I had no idea he sings basically everything well...)  I found lots of songs I really like. I posted a few last week, but I of course have more! He's been a singer for more than 15 years sooo he has lots of songs to sort through.

I found out he does some really great English covers of some songs I really, really like, like Lucky (Jason Mraz)

The singer he's singing with, Gummy, is also super popular. It's ok Gummy, I probably wouldn't be able to look him in the eyes either!

He was in the military when he sang this. Apparently one of your jobs can be entertainer haha.
I love this song and I think he does a pretty great job with the English. I have no idea if he can 
actually speak it well, but I hope so. That would be cool. Regardless, kudos to him for remembering so many songs in another language!

This is his most recent release, Shine Your Light, which was super popualar and got an all kill on the music charts when it was released. I really like this song, it's not super peppy but not sad. Just a nice, mellow, relaxing song that makes me smile.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Phantom Strikes Again... Ooops?

Ha I ended up at Phantom again. I'm like a moth to a flame, guys.

Normally I would be responsible on a school night and not stay out until past midnight just to see a show, but A.) this show is Phantom, which is close enough to Phantom of the Opera for me to be justifiably excited and B,) my classes this week and next week are in filler mode because the semester ends Thursday. I regret nothing. 

After seeing Park Hyo Shin in Phantom and being blown away, I invited Young Ah and Cesca to go again and see it, mostly cause I just really wanted to see it again haha. His weekend shows were sold out, but we managed to get tickets during the week because I basically insisted we see him. Sorry not sorry. I needed those two to hear what I heard the other day.

So glad she was down for it

The rest of my week wasn't that busy anyway... Just speaking tests, a filler lesson about English speaking countries, a movie and an alphabet day. Click there if you want to see what that means. My adorable little 3rd graders... hehe.

Anyway. Easy week. No pressure.
So I figured if there was a week to stay out too late and slack, it was this one. 

Young Ah was worried I'd be upset about seeing the same guy- ha! Sometimes I forget my Korean friends don't really know the extent of my musical madness...  If it was the other show, I'd probably see every possible cast combination, but because I'm not super familiar with Phantom and I don't like it as much as PotO, I was totally ok with seeing the same actor play the Phantom, since he was amazing. I don't think I would have liked it as much without his awesomeness. Plus, Young Ah was curious about how well this celeb could possibly do in a musical, since his singing style is very different in his songs.

So... off we went to see the show. It's admittedly more fun when you're with people, especially in Korea where they have lots of cool things set up in the lobby for you to see. 

I even was able to surprise a lady in line while we were waiting to take pictures. She turned to her friend and said, "But how will foreigners understand what's going on in this show?"

I turned to her and said, "Actually, this was originally an American musical so the OST is in English and we've heard it before."

Woman to friend: *gasp* wow she understood us!

Me: And this is my second time...

Woman's friend: That's still really awesome to come. If I listened to a musical in English I wouldn't know what was happening and be bored.

Me: Oh, I really like Phantom of the Opera. Enjoy the show!

It's funny to get to acknowledge people when they talk about you and to surprise them. They weren't being malicious or anything, I think they really were genuinely curious as to why a foreigner would see a show in Korean. 

Back to the fun pictures...

We all had to get a picture with the man of the hour haha.

To be honest, I didn't actually know Park Hyo Shin was the level of famous that he actually is, because he's not in the news that often and doesn't do much broadcasting. I'd heard his songs before but didn't connect the name with the songs or face, because that happens to me a lot in Korea.

I'm pretty sure like 90% of the women were there specifically to see him. We were too, but I'm not sure how much of their interest was in the actual musical, which, for me was a big reason to go again, because, you know, I'm crazy. Phan with a ph and all of that.

The audience was much more vocal this week rather than Saturday, and, out of curiosity, I checked the tickets to the rest of his shows, since the run ends next weekend, and his are all sold out. Such is the power of a celeb, I suppose. 

Young Ah was excited to see him. 
Turns out he's renowned as one of Korea's best singers (he's referred to as a god of singing because "Shin" in Korean means god and is also coincidentally part of his name), but most people (Young Ah, an actual Korean included) had/have no idea that he sings musical theater so well. I wouldn't have guessed it was him based on some of his other songs either. In fact, Young Ah told me when he debuted, his husky/deep style was really unique and people said he sounded like a cow singing. Apparently a talented cow, but still.

(I'm putting this here in case you didn't check it out last time, but seriously, it's one of the most beautiful songs I've heard. AND HE SANG it LIVE FOR THIS VIDEO. Just watch it. Doooo it.)

His more recent stuff hasn't quite been in the 'cow' range and to me is much more awesome and powerful than his earlier things, and he only recently started doing musicals. His voice is very well suited to it, so I hope he does many more shows while I'm here.

I wish they'd done a press release and preview for Phantom like they've done for other shows, but here's PHS in the press run through Das Musical Mozart! from last year. They're apparently doing it again this year, but I'm not sure I'd want to go again, even if Park Hyo Shin was in it. I think I'd prefer to see something else, especially something that has an English language counterpart so I can get an idea of what's happening before I go.

Namely I hope they bring back the more famous version Phantom of the Opera and he does that one. Just saying. Ahem.

This turned out well for me because besides Park Hyo Shin,
most of the cast was different. 

Now, I kind of wish I had seen this show earlier so I could have recommended it to my office and such, but I'm also glad the temptation isn't there to go again. It's a great show, but it lacks some of the power and mystery of the original novel, and creates some even more implausible/ridiculous situations. The music is great, although it doesn't have as many ear worms as the ALW version does.

I do adore this song though. It's a duet between Erik and Christine called "You Are Music" (In Korean, the title is "You Are My Music")

Oh, you are music/ Noble music/ You are my clear(bright) light
Oh, you are music/Dream like music/You are my life

The first time I saw it was fun because I didn't know what was coming all that well, having only heard the soundtrack and seen the basic mini series a few years ago. The second time it was fun to be the expert, but also allowed me to look at the flaws in the show. It was pretty long to sit through (it runs about 30 min longer than PotO, which puts it in Les Mis territory of length). 

Plus the second act is a lot more draggy and long, since they added a ballet blast from the past sequence. It certainly takes itself less seriously than the ALW version, what with the Phantom joking about his face (!) when he says "(Carlotta's) singing sounds worse than my face looks!" and even using a line from a famous ramen commercial (Young Ah had to explain that one to me).  And the whole underground forest thing... ha. ha. ha. Seriously, my favorite line in the show is when Christine asks Erik to show her his face (at least she asks for permission in this version?) and he, in an effort to change the subject, goes "Uh... It looks like it's going to rain..." bahahaha.

My last blog post was all about this, and so I'll stop rambling now, but the difference between the shows are vast. Some for the better, some for the worse.

Please do more musicals.
I'll break the bank
if the original PotO comes here, esp if PHS stars

Bottom line: Cast, especially Park Hyo Shin, was stellar. It was fun and fresh, but I still prefer the ALW version. Would  probably see this again if it comes back, if the cast  is interesting. More than that, I hope PotO comes back before I leave Korea.

Again, the rest of my week was normal and we all know my most exciting times are musical times, so the rest of the week was a blur of being excited for the show and being excited after the show.

my hair was outwardly expanding on my walk
home due to the humidity. Was not pleased.
Picture does not portray the crazy levels
of hot that it was

Korean pizza strikes again Why are there
raisins and almonds on my pizza. 

Our school updated our monitors for the
first time in apparently quiiiiiiite a few years.

I tried on Young Ah's glasses on the walk home

View from my school on a beautiful, finally not
humid day.

Lauren, Cesca and I decided chimaek was
in order for Friday evening. We ordered too much
but whatever

Just proving that I didn't just go home and
watch TV alone 

We watched Bring it On haha. We also
watched She's the Man as well. SO FUN

I actually had a low key Saturday. When we saw Phantom, I actually felt pretty sick during most of the show. I thought it might be because I had gotten myself overly excited for seeing the show again (this tends to happen with my life in regards to musicals, especially if they're related to Phantom of the Opera), but I realized by Act 2 that it wasn't just excitement. Staying out late and getting up early for school didn't help, I'm sure, but man I did not feel well that night or most of the day after. I'm normally always hungry, but I didn't feel like eating breakfast or lunch for a few days. 

I haven't been sleeping well because of the heat, excitement, drama, skype and school stuff (camp and visa things), so I'd been feeling a bit run down, and at Lauren's I started to feel that tickle in my throat. Trying to fend off a cold or illness, I basically just rested on Saturday. I must have really needed it too, because I slept for most of the day and only got up to do some easy chores and to make food. I caught up on my dramas AND studied for my vocabulary test, so it wasn't a waste of a day. Sometimes you just have to take care of your body and chill at home.

I felt a bit better on Sunday, so I went to dance class with Cesca, which was fun but also super hard because we did another boy group song from a group that's crazy good at dancing (Beast). I failed spectacularly but oh well. It's good for the exercise! 

It's time for the last week of the semester, summer camp and then Veronica is coming to visit! We are making tons of plans for her vacation. So many things to pack in, but 2 weeks is a long time. Can't wait to see her!!! Now I just have to get through the last week (including a staff dinner...) and summer camp before freedom!!! I can tell my students and I need a break and are a little burned out, so I'm glad it's almost time to refresh and relax. 

Hoping for nice weather and an easy week for all of us out there! Fighting!


I've obviously been on a Park Hyo Shin kick recently, so I've been listening to him. I didn't realize I'd heard some of his songs before I started looking things up after Phantom, but since he is so famous, I have heard some stuff before in dramas or things, but I mostly had heard him in  clips of Mozart!, so that's where my curiosity had originally stemmed from. I'm glad my curiosity won out and I found so many great new songs!

 I tend to prefer his more recent stuff more than his debut and early work, because he has a beautiful range and I think he sings more clearer and his voice is more beautiful when he isn't doing quite so deep a voice. He does some more peppy things too, not just depressing songs or ballads.

I'm glad he doesn't only do ballads. This upbeat, cute song is sure to put a spring in your step. So Happy Together~~

This is arguably his most notable song, Snow Flower. It is probably the one that really made him famous, and he still sings it all the time today.

 It's from 2005, so if you listen to this and his recent stuff, it's hard to believe it's the same person. He seems to sing a little higher now, going more for belting ballads like Wildflower or upbeat songs like Happy Together. Even now when he performs songs like Snow Flower, his voice doesn't go quite as deep, yet it still sounds gorgeous, as you can hear here from his most recent concert.

Seriously, I could listen to him sing the phone book.

I can tell he'll be on my walking to school playlist for a while. Hope you enjoyed something that's not Kpop!

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Phantom of the Opera vs. Phantom

Did you know that the famous Andrew Lloyd Webber musical The Phantom of the Opera isn't the only musical that used the original Gaston Leroux novel as inspiration? There are, in fact, 3 musicals about Phantom. The first was by Ken Hill and won't be discussed here since I've never seen it. The other two, as mentioned in another post, were being created around the same time. They are: 

Andrew Lloyd Webber's take
Maury Yeston's and Arthur Kopit's creation

But how are there so many musicals on the same topic, you ask? Or maybe you don't. I don't know. Anyway, there are some key differences in plot and characterization, not to mention musical style and score, between the two musicals. Be prepared for a loooong read haha

The Phantom of the Opera is a story that is close to my heart. I've read the original novel  a good number of times (and read many multiple related novels and works). I have seen various film and TV adaptations, and obviously, the musical.

I've seen the ALW version (PotO) 18 times live and countless more through bootlegs, so I'm clearly somewhat attached. Ha.

 A Phantom production, however, has never come close to me, so Seoul was the first opportunity I've had to see it, so my first live experience was in Korean (though it was aided by the phenomenal vocals of Park Hyo Shin). 

Both of the musicals were written in the 80s, but the success of PotO on the West End halted the Broadway plans for Phantom (confusing, no?) so it was made into a mini series with Charles Dance as the Phantom in 1990. In 1991, there was a production in Texas, and since then, it has enjoyed relative success without ever setting foot on Broadway. PotO, of course, was a smash hit, and is currently the longest running show in the history of Broadway, and the second longest on the West End, behind Les Mis.

The creators of Phantom and some of its fans like to brag that they have created a much more deep and rich version of the story with their characterization of the Phantom, but in my opinion, the ALW version stays much closer to the events of the original novel, whereas Yeston and Kopit took lots of liberties with the base story. Not that this is a bad thing, because it's true there is much more development of the Phantom (on the surface), but I kind of like the mystery. If you're expecting closer to Leroux, Phantom is not it, but if you want more (moderately to severely inaccurate) info about the backstory of the Phantom, you will like it, especially if you haven't read or aren't a fan of the novel or ALW version.

Let's go through some key points of the story (check out the full synopses on wikipedia if you're not sure what's going on). 

All 3, the novel and 2 musicals, begin, for the most part, with a manager change. There is already a major difference in these plot points. (the rest are not in any particular order because the events don't match up in the shows- ie Christine unmasks the Phantom in Act 1 of PotO, but she does not request this until near the end of Act 2 in Phantom).


New managers arrive and are warned about the Opera Ghost (former managers begrudgingly dealt with the Phantom without knowing who he was).

New managers arrive and are warned about the Opera Ghost (former managers begrudgingly dealt with the Phantom without knowing who he was).

New managers* arrive and are warned about the Opera Ghost (former manager is a friend of the Phantom).

*Key difference: the managers in this version are none other than Carlotta and her husband. She becomes the owner and the star. In this version, her voice isn't lovely, and she fears Christine's lovely voice. 

In both the novel and PotO, Carlotta is the star of the opera house, but is not an owner. For Christine's debut, unknown circumstances cause Carlotta not to perform and Christine takes her place (musical: "strange things" keep happening and Carlotta leaves rehearsal, leaving Christine to take her place). Jealous, she tries to steal the spotlight back from Christine later. The Phantom warns her not to perform and she does not listen, leading to the famous "frog croaking scene," which is not present in that form in Phantom. More on this later.


Christine trains at the Opera House and is in the chorus. She is suggested to the managers after mysterious circumstances prevent Carlotta from performing that day. 

Christine is a chorus girl (dancer, not exclusively singer like in the novel) and is volunteered by her friend to perform when Carlotta leaves.

Christine is a young girl who sells music on the streets of Paris and is 'scouted' by Philippe (not Raoul, more on that later), who tells her to see his friend, a manager at the Opera house (pre Carlotta takeover) for voice lessons. She shows up and is relegated to costume girl for Carlotta. Her audition happens at a restaurant, where she outshines Carlotta after receiving lessons from Erik (The Bistro).


Christine and Raoul are childhood friends who listened to Christine's father play on the violin and sing. They meet again when he recognizes her during her first triumph on stage. 

Christine and Raoul are childhood friends who listened to Christine's father play on the violin and sing. They meet again when he recognizes her during her first triumph on stage. (Think of Me/Little Lotte)

Christine meets Philippe on the streets while she is selling music (Melodie de Paris)  and he tells her to get lessons set up from his friend at the opera house (Carriere). No mention of an Angel of Music or Christine's father. They are not childhood sweethearts.


Christine receives private lessons in her dressing room. At first, she is under the impression that this is the Angel of Music, promised to her by her late father. She sings for 3 months with him before seeing him. She learns that his name is Erik.

Christine receives private lessons in her dressing room. At first, she is under the impression that this is the Angel of Music, promised to her by her late father. It is unknown how long she received these lessons. The Phantom never reveals a name to her. He takes her to his lair here early in the show (Angel of Music/The Phantom of the Opera)

Christine is singing in the auditorium while she works, and Erik cannot resist introducing himself to her and offering her voice lessons if she promises to keep his identity anonymous and to never look at his face. (home)



Masquerade happens and and the Phantom appears as Red Death. He says nothing to Christine really during this time, just scares her and stalks her a bit, since she came with Raoul, and then after the ball, Christine leaves her dressing room to go to his lair as Raoul looks on, aghast. 

Masquerade happens, Christine and Raoul are secretly engaged and the Phantom appears as Red Death with an opera that he demands be performed. He also gets mad at Christine during this time. Beginning of Act 2.

No Masquerade ball.


The new managers do not heed Erik's warnings, and so he drops the chandelier to show his anger. The famous croak scene takes place here. This is also the night Christine disappears and goes to his lair the first time. 

The managers do not heed the Phantom's warnings, and he also overhears Christine and Raoul confess their love and in anger, drops the chandelier and disappears for 3 or so months depending on the version. (End of Act 1)

Carlotta gives Christine a drink to make her voice falter during the her debut. In order to distract everyone at prevent embarrassment, Erik drops the chandelier and grabs Christine. He brings her to his lair for the first time and promises to protect her and keep her from the evil people above. (End of Act 1 beginning of Act 2)


When Christine is first in the lair, she is practicing with Erik and removes his mask out of curiosity. He is incensed with anger. Christine does not return to the opera for a fortnight.

Christine wakes up after her first night in the lair. The Phantom is distracted with his music and Christine sneaks up with him and snatches the mask. He takes her back that day.

After bringing her down after the disaster, Erik and Christine spend time together, when Christine asks him if she can see his face. He refuses, saying it's too horrible. She promises she can withstand it because of love, but is horrified when she sees his face and flees. Erik is enraged and depressed. (My True Love)


Erik's true parentage is never revealed. He mentions that he came across his name by accident, and that his father never saw his face. His mother gave him a mask as his first present. It is unknown exactly what happened, but he traveled extensively (particularly in Persia), learning many tricks, before settling under the Opera House. 

The Phantom only mentions that a mask was his first present, and his parents are never revealed. Madame Giry reveals that she saw him in a freak show and that he was a genius. He escaped and it was assumed he died, but he actually found refuge under the Opera House.

In this version, the old manager, Carriere, reveals to Christine that he is Erik's father and has been trying to protect him all of this time. Erik was also aware of this the entire time. Erik is a gifted singer, but other talents are unknown/not mentioned.  In the musical, his mother loves him very much and protects him from seeing his face and being scared of himself, but she dies when he is young. Erik sees his face in a puddle and is terrified.  Christine apparently resembles Erik's mother, both in face and voice.

*Major difference here being that Erik was raised for part of his life with love.  He has not traveled extensively outside of Paris,apparently.


After hearing of Raoul and Christine's plans to flee, Erik kidnaps her in the middle of a performance. One second, the lights go off, and the next, when they come back, Christine is no longer there. Raoul is led to help her by the Persian, a man who knows about Erik's past. Erik threatens to kill everyone if Christine won't marry him. She concedes and kisses him on the forehead, and he releases her and everyone because of her sacrifice. He dies at the end of the novel.

The Phantom appears on stage during a performance of his own opera that was meant to trap him after he kills Piangi, the lead. He disappears with Christine to his lair. Raoul is led to help her by Madame Giry, who knows of the Phantom's existence. The Phantom threatens to kill Raoul if Christine will not marry him. She kisses him, and realizing he must let her go, sends her off with Raoul and disappears. 

Desperate to find Christine after she flees, Erik, wanted for the murder of Carlotta (whom he murdered as revenge for Christine's debut debacle), is surrounded. He pleads with the old manager, Carriere, to help him, convinced that he will be on display as a freak. "You promised!" he shouts, and Carriere shoots him to prevent him from being caught alive. As he dies, Christine removes his mask and looks on his face without fear. He dies with Christine and Carriere around him.


The characters are quite different. In the novel and PotO, the Phantom appears and disappears like a ghost, throws his voice and appears to make Carlotta croak by magic. Some of these things carry over to PotO. While he uses some of these tricks in Phantom, he is much more humanized and less mysterious, and has not traveled the world extensively as he has in other incarnations. Because he's on stage much more, there's more of an attachment to his humanity, perhaps.  He has a lovely voice, but other facets of his genius, such as composer, conjurer, architect, etc, are missing.

He is in some ways more vicious in this version, what with electrocuting Carlotta out of anger (instead of Piangi's death in PotO, where the Phantom takes his place during The Point of No Return). But he's also much more childish and petty, pulling pranks like putting rats in the food during a birthday party scene in a show, or putting bugs in Carlotta's wig. He drops the chandelier to distract so he can save Christine from embarrassment, not out of complete anger or spite.

He also has a lot of masks, some as
outlandish as this one. He has glittery
ones too! 

It's interesting that his relationship with Christine really starts without much pretense. He's quite honest with her. Her voice is beautiful but untrained, and he can help. 

Because of this, an actual romance develops more naturally between Erik and Christine, and they even have a nice duet together (You are Music). In both the novel and PotO, it's up to your interpretation of how much she loved the Phantom. In the musical, it's more towards romance, but in the novel, it's almost completely admiration and then genuine terror.

In Phantom, Erik remarks that he does not like killing, and he's got a much less menacing personality, which may be owning to his loving childhood. This makes the character much more sympathetic in some ways, and may be the reason that critics like this more fleshed out version of the character.

A major difference between the two shows is that in Phantom, we never see Erik's face. He is always facing away from the audience when it is shown, so it's a mystery as to how bad his face is. In PotO,  we see it for a good portion of time, but it's only half of his face that's deformed, not the whole thing like in the novel. Interesting stuff, this interpretation business. 

Raoul is a dashing if naive gentleman, but his role as Philippe is greatly reduced to just admiring Christine and then frantically searching for her for the second act. He is not involved in her Erik redemption moments and is relegated to a much smaller role, which allows us to focus much more on Erik and Christine. In the novel and PotO, I don't want Christine to end up with the Phantom, since he's a psycho, but in Phantom, Erik's much less so, which makes the triangle harder. We don't get to know the Raoul/Philippe character that well, besides him being adorably dopey (but not attempting to be heroic like in the other two).  I enjoy Raoul's development and his relationship with Christine much more in PotO than in Phantom.

I actually kinda of was rooting more for Erik in Phantom, even though I know the ending. All I Ask of You is a much more romantic song than Who Could Ever Have Dreamed Up You?, which they changed in the Korean version to a new song called "Christine".

Christine Daae is an interesting character. Often weakened in the ALW musical, she's got quite a backbone and spunk in the original novel, crossed with a bit of frantic madness.  She has a lot of agency and is pretty independent, even though she does seem to vaguely believe in the Angel of Music at first. 

I had one major problem with her in Phantom, and that's that her unmasking Erik was not a surprise, and I hated the way she reacted to it. She sings a song about how a mother's love allowed her to look at his face, so shouldn't she be able to as well, since she loves him?  Her betrayal is exponentially worse, because Erik fights for a good time and continually refuses her request, before putting all of his trust in her and showing himself. And she screams in horror, his worst fear. And to make matters worse, she essentially gets him caught and killed, because he exposes himself looking for her.. sigh... Tragic consequences...

Quite frankly, in any case, the guy is wearing a mask. You have to assume he's not wearing it for fun, so I don't really know what any of the incarnations were expecting, but for me, the betrayal is the worst in Phantom, where their relationship is the most natural and developed. It is based on no deception, as there is no Angel of Music pretense.


Overall, it was a great show, and I generally just thought of it as a different adaptation, as one should. Both are incredibly enjoyable musicals, though of course I tend to gravitate much more strongly to the ALW version.

PotO gets a lot of heat for being more overblown and outlandish with special effects, but I think it kept the core story more at heart. While it's nice to give Erik a background, if it doesn't quite fit with the character or the source material (in which Erik is incredibly mysterious and we only receive secondhand accounts of), I'd be hard pressed to call this the 'real Phantom' as the ads do. Some of the character combinations work well, like Carlotta being the new manager, but some things, like Carriere being Erik's father, seem much more melodramatic, especially when you combine it with the "Christine looks and sounds like his mother" bit. And when the dad thinks he's been good at covering up the fatherhood thing this whole time... Clearly not.

Musically, both were wonderful, but I find Webber better at creating earworms. Not only is the title song super recognizable, but so many other songs from PotO are widely loved and used. I can only recall maybe 3 songs from Phantom that I really remember and want to consistently listen to. I'm sure that would change with repeated viewings, but I still prefer the mega musical I guess. 

To me, Phantom is a great musical, but it definitely leaves out some of my favorite scenes from the novel, which ALW's version usually included in some form. Some of these include the graveyard scene, dramatic mirror scene, masquerade, dramatic overhearing of Raoul/Christine's confession, the overall menace and ghostliness of the Phantom, the descent to the lair (still one of the best scenes in musical theater, period), the snap in the Phantom's sanity... I could go on.

Phantom, to me, is saved by a heart wrenching story (despite the liberties taken with the story from the novel), and so it is easy to get emotionally invested in it all, because the story is accompanied by beautiful music. When sung by someone amazing... wow. I could barely breathe/contain myself when the glorious voice of Park Hyo Shin was filling my ears. Overall, seeing both shows is a completely different experience for me, having seen one multiple times and one only once. If either ever comes to your area, you will not be disappointed by them. 

Do you like a more mysterious story, or a more fleshed out backstory?
Have you ever seen Phantom? What are your thoughts compared to The Phantom of the Opera?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

End of the Semester Fatigue and Phantom (Not the One You're Thinking Of)

It's been a long week of upper 80s and 90s with high humidity. I basically just sit in front of my fan for hours. Thankfully we can use the AC at our school mostly freely now.

The end of the semester is hitting hard, along with the weather. The kids are tired and don't want to study. I'm tired and don't want to study. 

I like routines, but sometimes, after almost 2 years, the constant routine of going to school, rushing through dinner and going to Korean class gets mundane, especially when I'm getting into harder grammar and I want to give up. Most days it's going well and I'm certainly understanding a lot, but sometimes I'm still annoyed when I can't quite understand why everyone is laughing in the office and I'm left out.

This is how I feel studying Korean

How I feel about giving like 500 speaking tests 

But, even though I'm having some fatigue with teaching and learning, I was reassured after discussing some of my misgivings with Young Ah. She's pretty helpful about boosting me when I'm feeling down about my Korean or my kids, and reminded me that some of the kids in our classes just aren't good students, and it's not all on me if they don't want to pay attention in class or can't quite get it, and that she thinks I'm doing well. So that helped. 

It's not all doom and gloom over here, though I am still annoyed with some micro aggressions in Korea. This week's annoyance is bus etiquette. Bus aisles and seats are small and it's hard to maneuver, I know. My pet peeve comes in when it's rush hour and people sit in the aisle seat and don't move over or make space so someone can slide through to get the window seat. If the bus isn't crowded, fine. But, if it's rush hour, then please, make room. Now, if these people were getting off at an early stop, I'd vaguely understand that maybe they don't want to have to crawl over people. But, (and I always watch), they get off at the main station like Hongdae, about 97% of the bus gets off there too. YOU CAN MOVE OVER AND LET SOMEONE SIT DOWN.

Yay oblivious old men on the bus who don't
care about letting other people sit.
There was another person doing it on the other
Honestly, Korea isn't famous for it's public transportation etiquette. It's quite notorious for it... 

Since I was annoyed about that, Cesca and I calmed ourselves down with a delicious bingsu.

Great Hope Make Great Men
... close

mangoooooo bingsuuuuu

Lunch was so so this week, great some days, annoying some days. Honestly, if I never have to pick fish bones out of my lunch again or eat plain bean sprouts, it'll be too soon...

I also finally got a ricecake that I was happy to eat, since it didn't have a weird filling or toppings.

It was to celebrate 100 days of something.
Possibly marriage. I think. Could also be
some baby's 100 days. I didn't get to read
all of the note.

On Friday, Lauren, Sarah, Cesca and I met up for some Gusto Taco to unload about our weeks, mostly Lauren's and Sarah's more stressful weeks because Lauren has to transfer schools and Sarah is leaving. It's a crazy time for a bunch of us here, with lots of changes and goodbyes and I don't like it, so we kind of just put off talking about serious stuff and laughed about our silly students and teachers at school over nachos and taquitos. 

I got some more organizer stuff from Daiso and spent more time organizing my closets, desk and dressers. I was standing on the street corner with Cesca and, being type A, exclaimed, "I can't wait to go home and reorganize everything!" because I was legitimately excited to do so, and Cesca told me I'm lucky we're sisters cause that was the lamest thing for anyone to ever say on a Friday night. hahaha. She's just joking cause she knows I love that stuff. And my stuff does look nicer and less scattered. Woo!! 

Oh you know, just gonna be like 95 and humid
today. The rain temp was a lie. It didn't
get that cool.

My most exciting event by far was my trip to see a musical, which I haven't done in quite a while. I've been debating seeing this for a while, and WOW do I wish I had gone before. Although, if I had, I probably would have gone a few more times... it's better for my wallet this way.

Musicals, especially new ones or beloved ones, are the most magical escape for me imaginable. I haven't seen this show live before, and I was completely sucked in in awe and wonder at the talent, the sets, the songs. It was 3 hours of excitement and oblivion. 

The show, Phantom (Yeston and Kopit, not to be confused with The Phantom of the Opera of Andrew Lloyd Webber fame), has been running since the end of April, and at first, I didn't pay too much attention because I was mostly disappointed that it wasn't the ALW version. 

The story behind the inception of this musical and it's relatively unknownness is that in the early 80s, Arthur Kopit and Maury Yeston (they wrote the musical Nine) were using Gaston Leroux's source material, the original novel, to create their own Broadway musical that would explore more of the Phantom's history (more on this later). However, in the mid 80's, word of the ALW musical got out, and it's success on the West End and subsequent plans to transfer it to Broadway led investors and backers to drop the Yeston/Kopit musical for fear of competition or looking like they copied, even though the shows were in development at the same time and the stories are completely different.

Giving up on their musical idea, the rights were sold and in 1990, a TV miniseries was produced, starring the amazing Charles Dance (YES, the Imp's father, Tywin Lannister from Game of Thrones was once the Phantom of the Opera). The series did not use the songs from the musical, just a bit as background music, I think, maybe not even that. I haven't watched it in a while. 

In the 90s, they also decided to sell the rights to the musical to allow independent companies to perform the musical, which has never been produced on Broadway, but has achieved moderate success worldwide, even having a German and Japanese production and finally reaching Korea this year. 


My decision was spurred because my school had suggested seeing the musical for our school wide teacher bonding trip, but had decided against it, and I realized I was way too disappointed not to go see it. I had been toying with the idea of seeing the singer Park Hyo Shin in the role of the Phantom, having heard that he was famous and also having heard his work in the musical we saw last year, Das Musical Mozart (we didn't see him perform, but I saw clips later and was impressed). 

I bought a ticket last week and honestly wasn't expecting to enjoy it as thoroughly as I did (which was silly of me to assume about myself, because I adore musicals and anything related to Phantom). 

Now, the tagline is "this is the real phantom" and some of the discussions will like to tell you this operetta, French style musical stays closer to the Leroux novel than the rock opera ALW version. As an unofficial expert, I can tell you this is approximately 97% false, and that the ALW included many more homages to the novel than this version, but that also meant my enjoyment could be separate because they are so incredibly different.  This show humanizes the Phantom much more, meaning he's on stage way more than the ALW counterpart, but he is also much less mysterious. It's interesting to see how each musical handled the story. 

I'm already rambling about this musical so I'll probably post another, more in depth review about it later so you non musical fans can skip my musings about the actual show, which I'll just say was gorgeous but with an 85 minute first act and 65 minute second act, it runs quite long when you include intermission. Even with that running time, I only barely noticed the time drag in just a few small places, so the pacing was great and it didn't really feel its length (on my second viewing I did notice a drag in the second act, but that could also be the result of a loooong day).

I basically went because I heard about Park
Hyo Shin up in the center and was curious about
how he'd sound in this role, never having heard
him sing something quite this intense.
 I arrived early, a hot sweaty mess because it was about 95 degrees in the afternoon. I headed up to get my ticket, where the lady looked at my reservation name and told me how cool my name was since I was seeing a show where the main woman's name is Christine. It was cute.

I bought a program, which was full of great interviews and information, but I still miss Broadway and West Eng programmes, playbills and brochures. Korean programs are nice but constantly disappoint me with their lack of ACTUAL production pictures. They usually have 'atmospheric shots' and rehearsal pictures only... 

The lobbies are always decorated with the pictures
of the actors. Here's Park Hyo Shin. He's not
wearing any of the outlandish masks used in the show.

I tried to rent opera goggles, but everyone had the same idea and they were all rented out. Sad, because I was sitting up top in the nosebleeds, as I normally do,being a poor teacher. Also, if I'm gonna pay for VIP, I want first few rows. I don't know why the entire orchestra section is premium priced, at 110-140,000 won. The back row of the orchestra is NOT the same as the middle or front. Anyway.

I headed up to my seat, where the usher told me my Korean was good even though all I said was "I understand" when he explained that I shouldn't lean forward (I did understand, but also they had a diagram for how to sit so you wouldn't block the views of everyone else haha) and the normal camera spiel. I was the only foreigner I saw there, no surprises, since this isn't a famous musical really by any standards and it's all in Korean.

Casts in Korea rotate much more than they
do in America, so the main actor
doesn't play 8 shows a week like the actors on
Broadway, which means you must plan
more to see your favorites. 

I ended up sitting next to this very lovely high school student who was a huge Park Hyo Shin fan. She was very sweet and concerned that I didn't have binoculars, so she dug through her bag and lent me some! I was surprised and sooo touched! She's seen the show more than once, so she gave me some tips about where PHS would appear and what I should look out for. It was amazing and awesome, and she was so excited that I could speak Korean and that I like PHS. 

I was blown away by how incredible his voice was, and was again sorely disappointed in the lack of Original Cast Recordings of Korean productions, because they are such short runs. Halfway through, I was seriously considering buying another ticket, because it was just a great production. Don't get crazy, it wasn't the Phantom I love so incredibly dearly, but it's a great show in it's own right.

(There's a cute Korean comic to introduce it too) 

In a daze from my excitement and emotion from how incredibly impressed and elated I was, I met up with Cesca and we ended up at a cat cafe in Sinchon, as one does. 

This one was making the best faces


this one was our buddy for a while

Ces snuck a picture on my phone

This one is huuuuge

We got home late (with ddeokbokki) and hung out, but Ces had had a busy day so we went to bed kind of early. It was super hot last night and I just couldn't sleep. I'm gonna be honest, when I see a musical, I'm usually pretty wound up after it. When I see Phantom of the Opera, you'll be hard pressed to see me settle down for hours after the show, and most of the time, I can't sleep after seeing it. I haven't seen that show in over a year ㅠㅠ, but this one wound me up just as much, so I was pretty tired today (Sunday), since I didn't go to sleep until after 3 am and woke up around 7:30. 

Since I was up early, I chatted with my mom since she's been busy and we haven't talked much, then I bummed around and waited for Cesca to wake up.

she sleeps like she's dead sometimes

We finished the show we were watching together, and then she left to run some errands in the afternoon. I watched one of my dramas and decided to take a break from something I'm editing for my students (it's super cute, I'll show you all when it's finished), because the editing it taking foreverrrr. I was too excited to write about Phantom

I have another few days of speaking tests and filler lessons this week, with maaaaaybe another trip to Phantom this week (Young Ah mentioned she wanted to see it and I'll use any excuse to see Park Hyo Shin again). More Korean classes await, but it's ok. I was in a slump, but I've got energy again. I can do it!!! 23 months almost down!

A typhoon is hitting now so it's been raining all day, but it's not 95 degrees so I'm happy. It will be quite hot again for the foreseeable future. Ugh. I'm dealing, I just hate being a sweaty mess at work when I arrive. Why don't Koreans sweat like me!?!?


My favorite song from Phantom is this duet between Erik and Christine during one of their music lessons. 

Since I'm also just now talking about Park Hyo Shin, here's a song of his that makes me tear up every time I listen to it.  FYI he sang this live for the MV, it's not a lip sync. Cause he's just that good.

song starts around 35 seconds

Be right back I have to go drown in a puddle of tears.