April 15, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The dream is always the same. Admiring, envious, unseen…but necessary. A synthesis of literary theory, Leroux, and Lloyd-Webber. In the dark spaces between the scenes, the watcher waits silently deconstructing the narrative, discovering new intentions for old lovers between the moments where time passes and beauty lives aloud on the stage of the Opéra de Paris.

Jorie Lyn Scheele, 22, has experienced Phantom of the Opera live four times from Omaha to Las Vegas. Her soundtracks have metaphorical grooves worn into them. She’s viewed the 2004 film, starring Gerard Butler, often enough to make any view count a gross estimate. Cosplays, podcasts, reviews, and theories round out her obsessed Phantom fangirl résumé. But there’s more.

Scheele dreams about the Phantom in terms that would make philosopher Jacques Derrida say, “Je te l’ai dit!” [“I told you!”]

“I remember after the first couple of times I had watched Gerard Butler as the Phantom I had this distinct dream where I am experiencing things in between the scenes,” Scheele says, describing what semioticians and literary critics refer to as “suture,” human minds looking for answers to questions like, “what’s a chicken doing by the road anyway?”

“I’m in the time jumps between scenes hiding, which is why you never see me,” Scheele says, describing one fun, emotionally involved thought experiment. “I just kind of have theories in my mind and ended up having dreams about them and I went with them. To this day, I feel like some of those theories are what really happened.”

Credit for the Phantom fetish goes to her father, Monty, who broke out the original 1986 cast recording on a Colorado road trip when Jorie was 7.

“The first time I remember hearing it, my dad discovered the original soundtrack on CD and we were getting ready for vacation. He was like, ‘I have been waiting to share this!’ So we listened to that soundtrack straight through as we’re driving out to Colorado. I just remember the music being so good, even at such a young age. I remember thinking, ‘I just have to see this.’”

That began Jorie’s obsession with the musical about a man (or perhaps a dark angel) obsessed with an ingenue. She’s consumed all of Christine’s sadness, Raoul’s desperation, and the Phantom’s lonely rage in all its forms from the original Leroux to the Gerard Butler vehicle, right up to her anticipated fifth live performance at the Orpheum Theater. The beloved show runs April 20 through May 1.

To the outside observer, what a fan does can seem obsessive, and obsession can sound a tad alarming. Fortunately Scheele’s avocation is organizing social gatherings for the Omaha Sexy Nerd Society, an umbrella organization and social group for all things nerd. They encourage sci-fi fanboys and comics fangirls to mingle at weekly gatherings around Omaha, singing nerd-themed karaoke, talking “Star Wars,” or building massive pillow forts. They drag high geekery into the light at their annual fan convention, Convergence, as well.

The Phantom—shy, lonely but hopeful, possibly bitter, hiding behind masks and opera—might feel right at home at one of Jorie’s events. Encounter

Visit omahaperformingarts.com to learn more.

JorieLynScheel

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