He came and left me without saying “goodbye” in 2012.
Yet, I was not heartbroken. Deep within my mind, I knew he would come back.
And so yesterday, February 24, I visually and auditorily reunited and romanced with him while the beautiful and haunting music of the night was being played.
Frightening and mysterious, he had the power to enrapture me from the moment my sister and I stepped inside The Theatre at Solaire.
Seconded by my regular theatre date, I continued to have that smile on my lips as if I were waiting for the arrival of my perennial love. I could sense that she could hear my excited breathing.
“Be still my beating heart…” Sting‘s words made me remind mine until this Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical masterpiece began.
The opening of Act One shushed any noise inside the theatre. Automatically, my sister and I switched off our communication frequency band. For the fifth time that we’re watching a musical together, we understood each other well. No talking until the curtain closes for the intermission and the final act.
I directed all my attention to the stage to find out if this broadway musical was given the right interpretation in its movie adaptation in 2004. Thanks to our location, it gave us the vantage point. A mutual decision between my sister and me, we felt it’s about time we had to change our choice of seats. Yehey! And absolutely, this preference handed me another indelible musical experience worth sharing.
“God’s gift to musical theatre!” This is how The Times in UK hailed this Webber’s blockbuster which had earned numerous awards in broadway. It may be an aggrandizement, but one had to see it to validate this pronouncement.
From the hoisting up of the chandelier to the roof, The Phantom of the Opera challenged the different broadway effects of the first four musicals I was lucky to watch. Should I now play favorites? Nah. Yeah. Nah. Yeah. Hahahahaha… A difficult decision indeed! Honestly, The Phantom’s effects were transfixing. These would be one aspect in this musical which could give Les Misérables a run for its money. I anticipated how the boat scene would be brought to life on stage and it went beyond my imagination. Whatever made the boat and the candlelights be in motion would remain a puzzle to me.
Scene after scene, backdrop after backdrop, performance after performance, raised my level of emotional engagement to the musical. Responsible for this engrossment were the immortal songs Think of Me, The Phantom of the Opera, The Music of the Night, and All I Ask of You. Up to this moment, the overture is constantly playing in my head! And it serves as my stimulant while finishing this piece.
Act One ended and I took that interlude to look for our freshly minted theatre buddies — my sons Arthur, Alexander and Lancelot, who were at the balcony.
In our desire to let my children have their first broadway musical experience, my sister and I had to chip in for their tickets. Calling this as part of our Christmas gifts to them, we both felt that this would bring them several realizations and discoveries. To add, I would like them to fully understand why their Tita Nano/Cristy and I have this shared passion of musical theatre and later on develop the same inclination as ours.
Spotting them after a few minutes, I saw my sons’ wide smiles. They spoke volume. And I was excited to meet them after the show to hear their reactions. But, Act Two must first be watched.
Opening with one of the most captivating scenes, “The Staircase of the Opera House, New Year’s Eve,” the full company performed Masquerade in their most elaborate, lavish and colorful costumes. How the grand staircase was constructed to almost occupy three-fourths of the stage made me curioser and curioser like Alice in Wonderland.
Here, the tension and suspense built up. At one time, I realized I was already seated at the edge of my chair. I may be familiar with the plot of Gaston Leroux’s novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra where this musical was based on, but finally seeing this on broadway led me to a deeper perception and this question: Is the Phantom the hero or the villain?
Initially, I could have replied “the villain” but analyzing his character, I might call him the hero. I didn’t expect to be emotional while listening to his solo rendition of a song (my apology…title forgotten) when he realized Christine could never be his and so he made the ultimate sacrifice — to free her. I empathized with him. For me the Phantom was a representation of the ostracized just because of their outer appearance. And because of this rejection he had to resort to evil acts just to be noticed and be loved. Yes, we say and I agree, that “The end doesn’t justify the means.” This is one of the lessons I wanted my sons to grasp when this award-winning musical ended. And when we gave the cast a standing ovation and shouts of bravo’s, I was certain that they joined us.
Leaving our seats, we walked eagerly to my sons. I was dying to hear their reactions. And share they did! My heart was bursting with so much joy and pride. Their baptism of fire in watching musicals has provided them the exposure which I hope will turn them into discerning individuals.
As for me, the musical theatre will remain my utopia.
And what about for my sister and me?
We continue to be partners in finding escapism, entertainment, aestheticism, and contentment as we eye the next Webber’s masterpiece. Meow! Hahaha.