Rambling Ideals: The Theatre That Stays With You
By April Rideout
There is always a production that you see that always stays with you and you measure everything else by the standard it has set for you. For me, that would be Phantom of the Opera.
Bear with me as I set the scene – My parents decided to take a trip in the summer of 2007 to visit relatives in New Jersey. My brother and I were told that during the trip we would spend one full day in New York City. Of course, I really wanted to see a Broadway production. It really didn’t matter to me which one. I was just in awe of being able to go to that holy ground of theater. My brother wanted to see a New York Yankees game. My parents went with my idea. Victory.
Anyway, my parents chose a familiar title among all of the variety of shows that were playing on and off-Broadway. Phantom of the Opera. I mean who doesn’t know that show? My brother, of course, was not too happy about not attending a New York Yankees game. It didn’t matter to him what Broadway show we were seeing. I, on the other hand, was on cloud nine! It was a dream come true. I wasn’t familiar with the story at the time, but I was there to see some excellent theater.
The venue of the Majestic Theatre is absolutely exquisite. I felt as if I was stepping into a European masterpiece. Especially with the chandelier dangling high above. Even the seats were of a velvet grade. I felt like a member of the royalty attending those swanky opera back in the day. My parents planned ahead and got us seats pretty close to the stage. The overture began to play and a hush fell over the excited patrons. The moment had come.
Visually, the show was absolutely stunning. The set changes happened in the fashion of a moving tapestry. Literally. It was beautiful. My favorite number in the show is kind of a cop out by choosing the title song of the show, “Phantom of the Opera.” The illusion of the lake with fog billowing everywhere really did take the 15-year-old me to nineteenth century Paris. The Phantom and Christine both blew me away with their performances. I could feel the heartache the Phantom felt when Christine was choosing Raoul over him in “All I Ask Of You (Reprise).” You could hear it in his vocal delivery with sharp intakes of breaths and by producing a raspier sound. I always resect an artist when they can show the emotion of a song and connect the audience with their story.
The moment the chandelier came down in the finale of act one was insane. I felt like I was on one of those thrilling Disneyland rides. The chandelier came very close to our section of the audience so that would inspire a moment of fright. The passion of the music and the complexity of the orchestrations made Phantom of the Opera such a pleasure to listen to as well. There are so many well-crafted ballads that were sung exquisitely. It was such a treat. I really didn’t want the performance to end.
Something just clicked in me that inspired my fierce love for the theatre with this performance. When that curtain fell, my brother’s jaw dropped to the floor. To this day, he will not acknowledge that he enjoyed the production, but I saw that look in his eyes. He thought it was unbelievable and was drawn into the story.
I’ve seen other productions since then, of course. But, I feel that this show was what really impacted me with what great storytelling could be like when all the stage elements successfully came together. I hope to convey a love of the story and bringing it to life for the audience in my own craft. Someday, a show I might work on or act in, might inspire another 15 year old to really love the theatre.