Certain things don't mix. Ammonia and bleach. Beer and liquor. Pop Rocks and Coke. The proton stream in Ghostbusters.
Time to add one more to the list: Phantom of the Opera fans and social media.
After local theater company SHN recently announced that the perenial heavyweight Phantom would close their 2014-2015 season, Twitter and Facebook absorbed a deluge of exclamation points and gratuitous caps lock abuse. It was like #Batkid for theater geeks—people are either way too happy or way too mad, with not much in between.
With nearly 30 years of touring, $5.5 billion in worldwide receipts, and over 10,000 performances on Broadway (the first show to reach that mark), Phantom is musical theater's ultimate cult, both in how rabidly loyal its legions of "Phans" are—and in how much outsiders scratch their heads at them. Zealous devotees subject every new performance to intense scrutinty, down to the font on the posters. The Opera Ghost last haunted the Orpheum in 2007, when Twitter barely existed and Facebook had just lost its training wheels. Now, for the first time, we see how Web 2.0 provides a bold new stage for both epic fan freakouts and the grousing of wet blankets.
@thekuhlest: "PHANTOM OF THE OPERA IS COMING TO SF NEXT YEAR OMG IM SCREAMING"
Guy Schouten: "O God not again!!!!"
@WCKAO: "Phantom of the Opera, Mama Mia, and Matilda at the SHN Orpheum...!!!!!! Did not know Matilda was a musical too!!!"
Marco Place: "Will this show never die? Let's ban this, Cats, and Mamma Mia for 40 years."
@katkat_kittykat: "PHANTOM IS SHOWING AT THE ORPHEUM FOR THE 2014-2015 OPERA SEASON"
Daniel Hoffheins: "Spoiler Alert: he wears a mask cause he's ugly."
@sototallyunhip: "I don't get it."
@lutzklutz: "On the bright side, that's a ton of money saved on touring shows."
@cathypaulino: "Phantom of the Opera on SHN this year. And Newsies. Just take all my money why don't you. #MusicalAddict"
Randy Guiterrez: "No more talk of darkness...."
And that's just how they're taking it 18 months in advance. By the time opening night comes around there might not be any bandwidth left.