Behind the Mask...No More: A Phantom Stars' Journey Through Love, Abuse, Fame, Loss to Re-invention

Behind The Mask...No More - Byron Nease Upfront confession #1: I'm a Phantom fan, and Byron Nease is my favorite Raoul (the romantic lead).Upfront confession #2: I finished this book the same day that it arrived in the mail, and I had to spend some time absorbing what I had read before I could write a review."Behind the Mask ... No More" is not a chronological autobiography; it is a memoir with various matters grouped in thematic chapters. While some might find this format confusing, I found it easy to think of the chapters as essays with examples from Nease's life.Nease pulls no punches about the difficulties he has endured. He writes honestly about growing up as a young gay man in a conservative Christian family where abuse was part of the dynamic (physical and emotional). The same applies to discussing the foibles of his theatrical career, his HIV diagnosis (and the medication side effects), and finally deciding to talk about his life.Nease talks about all of these things in terms of masks he learned to wear long before he ever played Raoul, or the Yeston/Kopit Phantom (a role he refers to in the prologue as "going to the dark side). In deciding to stand bare-faced and bare-souled in his memoir, Nease shows how we all hide parts of ourselves from our loved ones that would be better off shared.This is a book that I will be re-reading from time to time, to remind me of the importance of compassion and love.