A little more than a year ago, I wrote about Love Never Dies (I pre-ordered the DVD and it is right now on its way to me! Yay!), ALW's sequel to his (non-arguably, surely) greatest work, The Phantom of the Opera.
I've been listening to the cast recording very frequently all this while. At first, I focused on just the music, like I'd said I would in my previous post, but of late, I can no longer ignore some disturbing facts about the story. I can no longer ignore how wrong it is that Meg gave everything for the Phantom who regarded her as nothing more than a convenient existence. The Phantom is a genius, but so incredibly arrogant and self-centered he didn't give a damn about anything beyond himself and his selfish love for Christine, all his IQ isn't nearly enough to make him bearable. Yes, he actually cared more about his love for Christine than for Christine herself, but that will be a whole other post. This post is about Meg.
As the musical begins, we hear of Meg's desperate hope to impress the Phantom with her singing and dancing. We hear of her working hard at improving her performance and striving to be worthy of his regard. The Phantom doesn't see nor hear her, however, for he is busy professing his love to an automaton in the likeness of Christine.
Madame Giry tells Meg that the Phantom has been composing "something glorious" late at night, and implies it would be for her. It isn't an unreasonable expectation, for Meg indeed is the one who has stayed faithfully by him, performing every show and drawing in crowds, and is actually the star at Phantasma. Who would be more deserving?
But no, for all that she's done, Meg gets the "cheap vaudeville trash" she's always got, and the "glorious" new aria is meant for Christine.
It's the last show of the season -
Ladies and gentlemen… Mr Y is pleased to present to you his final surprise of the season...
A command performance by Christine Daaé, the most heavenly Diva of this or any age…
But first, for those of you whose taste is a little more earthbound…
The Sweetheart of the Midway…
The ooh La La Girl…
Christine is a heavenly diva, and Meg is but earthbound.
As the musical draws to its end, we hear of Meg's other sacrifices -
I took a little trip to Coney Island.
I took a little trip, because of you.
I did as mother said,
and followed where you led
and tried to do what little I could do.
Well here’s the way it works on Coney Island --
They make you pay for every little crumb.
I gave what they would take,
I gave it for your sake,
now look at me and see what I’ve become.
on the beach…
in her dressing room…
In the dark,
on their laps,
In their beds --
She gave herself to men, literally, to ensure the Phantom's plan for Phantasma is realised, and in the end, he said
We can’t all be like Christine --
No, Meg is simply Meg. Meg is not Christine. No matter how much she gives, how hard she works, how willingly she sacrifices herself, she will never be Christine to the Phantom. It's not Christine's fault; it not even so much the Phantom's. Meg should never had believed she could be anything more than just... Meg.
Are you anyone's Meg? Stop. Don't be.