The Play that Changed My Life
Phantom of the Opera
A six-year old is introduced to Andrew Lloyd Webber.
When I was six years old, my parents took an anniversary trip to New York City to see The Phantom of the Opera. The weekend without them seemed interminable, but finally my dad returned with a present for me: a shiny black book called The Complete Phantom of the Opera. We sat on the couch and turned through the pictures as he told me the story step by step. From that moment, I was a devoted “Phan.” My grandmother sewed me two fuchsia silk capes and I started holding small productions in my room. I would hand out construction paper tickets before the show, and the adults would cluster in my doorway as a friend and I – dressed in pink leotards and capes – danced to the soundtrack and took turns flipping the light switch on and off to mimic the giant chandelier falling. I even cast some girls in my grade and held rehearsals for our own version of Phantom. My mother laid down a small rug to be my stage and I remember her watching as I rehearsed “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” – not the most age appropriate material for a six year-old, but still…
When I actually saw the production years later, it was great; but unsurprisingly, it didn’t quite live up to how I had fantasized it in my mind. I think the reason that I had loved the musical so intensely was that Phantom brought my family around me: Dad and me on the couch, looking through pictures, Grandma hand-sewing capes, and Mom watching with wonder as two girls in leotards jumped around a faux strobe-lit room pretending to be Christine Daae. And to this day, having now experienced the acting, directing, writing, and production sides of theatre, I still believe that the best theatre is about the people. The best works are the labors of love that bring your family and extended creative family around you.
Lindsay Joelle – New York, NY