Themes such as outcast, romance and the supernatural are prevalent throughout the text, music and setting, but they are also up for interpretation. Take the outcast theme, for example. People can be victimized for a number of reasons: race, gender, sexual orientation, physicality, socioeconomic status, etc. We live in a time and culture, however, that when a black actor assumes the role of the Phantom – Norm Lewis on Broadway – we correlate the color of his skin with historical facts of oppression. In a culture where the white American is the norm it can seem normal to draw such conclusions. I want to offer some alternatives to this theme of the outcast, in terms of casting. Being victimized by the hetero-normative society we live in is culturally relevant and can be translated to this show. Say Christine was reformed as a male and Rauol was changed to a female character. The Phantom could then be interpreted as being an outcast because of his sexuality, while Christian can learn and accept his feelings for the same sex as well as the opposite in the show. This very well may be a stretch, but I don’t believe it would dis...
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... never reach a point in which we disregard the tragic and horrific times minorities have experienced in this country and around the world. But the larger point, I believe, is that to change people and theatre-goers conceptions about race onstage, the theatre community needs to actively work to represent cultural diversity, skin color and our population on the stage. Of course we run into the problem of the time period of the show, but who’s to say modernizing the show or even challenging the stereotypes and racial undertones of those period pieces is not a productive method of accepting cross-cultural casting. Producers, artistic directors and theatre companies need to begin actively considering race and diversity in their productions, not appease affirmative action or meet a quota, but to authentically and realistically represent the world we live in today on stage.
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