from Atlantic Refugees:
Red Fields: I loved Phantom on Broadway. We had friends who knew the stage manager and got a tour of the whole place. It was pretty neat going under the stage.
The movie Phantom had one decent number--and yep, it's the "Prima Donna" song, with Minnie Driver 'singing.'
Weber is the master of elevator music.
Red Fields: No disagreement there. It would never occur to me to buy a CD of his music. I loved the show during the two or so hours it lasted. It was more than the music for me. The visuals were awesome.
I hear good things about the stage production too, but the director (Harold Prince, if I remember right) is a master of stagecraft.
I think Schumacher's mistake is to simply transcribe that kind of craft onscreen, where something like a fluid change of scenery or the juxtaposition of two people at different locations singing at the same time, while dramatic onstage, is simply achieved on film by 1) a cut, and 2) split screen or fade-in.
But Schumacher's really a glorified set-dresser; it wouldn't occur to him that he didn't have any talent for filmmaking.
Chris D: haven't seen the film version so I can't really comment. But I think if the film preserves some aspect of the theatricality that should be considered a bonus. Aspects of Angels in America didn't come off well on film simply because cuts and edits were used where the stage version asked us to use our imagination.
One of my favorite films of all time is Vanya on 42nd Street, not because it was a good adaptation of the play Uncle Vanya, but because the film perfectly captured the theatergoing experience. Audiences are smart, most people who will see Phantom of the Opera will be well aware that it was once a stage musical. That nugget should be exploited.
It's a real challenge to try capture theatrical devices on thebig screen; Vanya on 42nd is a wonderful example of what can be done that way. Another would be Altman's Come to the 5 and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.