Beneath the superficial romantic triangle, this story is about the valorization of masculine agony. The central subject is the suffering of the man of talent rejected by others (crucially, of course, by women) because he's not tall and handsome but deformed and crazy (or, in the composer's case, small and homely, which was pointed out by jeering critics when the show opened in New York; fury at the success of a show that they despised made them cruel).
This is not a light matter: masculine anguish has been (and largely remains) the backbone of serious Western literature and drama.
The assumption is that women are made for pain - penetration, menstruation, birth, rape, casual murder by various Jack-the-Rippers, abandonment, etc., and God ordained the whole mess anyway in the Garden of Eden. Therefore women's suffering is a given and becomes trivial in the eyes of the culture: female pain only signifies as sentimental melodrama...
"The Phantom" on stage particularly affected women viewers, since women learn early to value male suffering and deprivation above their own. We are taught that hurting is more serious, more universal, and simply more important with guys. We learn to see male suffering as ours to comfort, and therefore as a way for a mere female to connect with cosmic significance through a nurturing relationship with an unhappy man. The pain of the gifted but unlovely male is a mainstay of feminine romanticism in women who know themselves to be ordinary - too short, too heavy, too this or too that - but feel themselves to be gifted inwardly with a loving heart. They long for the man in need of comfort who will call their own hidden greatness forth, and who will honor and adore them for it even though they are not the beauties that the culture worships.
The stage show brilliantly captured this dynamic, a product of masculine insecurity and resentment, and the common cultural contempt for ordinary-looking women.
Ну не дура ли.