The Phantom of the Opera’s lead characters talk taboos and age-old adages that are observed by theatre folks throughout the world
TRUE: It is bad luck to wish someone ‘good luck’ in theatre; the right way to say it is ‘break a leg’
Brad: It’s kind of a taboo- thing. I don’t know what the history of it is. But you generally don’t ever say “good luck”. It’s very interesting because ‘Toi Toi Toi’ is used in opera, ‘Merde!’ is used in ballet, ‘Chookas’ is Australian, ‘Break a leg’ is American, ‘Hwaiting!’ (Fighting!) is Korean and so forth [are used instead of ‘good luck’].
FALSE: The theatre is always closed one night a week for the “ghosts” to perform their own plays
Brad: Never heard of that one.
Claire: I think [it is] to give us a rest! (Laughs)
Brad: We have to have a day off. But I like the idea, sure, give the ghosts a chance to perform… (Chuckles)
TRUE: It is bad luck for actors to whistle on and off the stage
Claire: Yeah, nobody whistles. The fly system used to operate via whistling to each other. If you whistle, the person on-top will drop the set piece so that could be on the wrong time. You do not whistle even if they’re no longer operated that way anymore.
Brad: And you’re supposed to go outside the room, turn around three times and say a curse word or something like that, and you come back in [if you whistle].
TRUE: Never bring peacock feathers on stage (part of costume, prop or part of set) as that brings chaos to the theatre
Brad: A fan of mine once sent me flowers with peacock feathers and I thought it was crazy when one of the crew came into my dressing room and told me to throw them away. The show started and there was a lot of pyrotechnics used in it. In one part of the show the guy sets off the wrong pyros — on a stage full of actors — and it started to burn some of the cast. We had to send some of them including our Christine to the hospital. So now, I will never allow peacock feathers in the theatre.
Claire: I just remembered on opening night in Sydney, someone was giving out peacock feathers as gifts. That night, our set had a huge malfunction where our interval was 40 minutes long and the curtains on the set wasn’t working so maybe…
TRUE: It is bad luck to say the word ‘Macbeth’ on stage
Claire: That was hard ‘cos I’ve done a lot of opera and I’ve been in Lady Macbeth. And so we’d always say ‘Lady M’ – we won’t actually say the full thing. But I learnt about that when I did that opera.
Brad: You don’t even tempt that one. You don’t - no matter what. The horror story behind that superstition is too scary. Literally, you’ve had people die on stage [if they say it].
- Joanna Goh, Xin MSN Entertainment