Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Phantom of the Opera closed after 35 years on Broadway! #PhantomOfTheOpera #musicals #Broadway #AndrewLloydWebber

Phantom of the Opera closed on Broadway April 16th with show 13,981! You can read about that night here. It went out on a high note

Also learn about the monkey music box.

Andrew Lloyd Webber was on April 17th's Tonight Show, and played a bit of song from some of his biggest hits, plus a brand-new musical. 

It all brought me back...

I was raised on musical theater movies and community productions, but singing didn't become my life until 7th grade.

It was 1989, fall, and I was in 7th grade choir. Mrs. Reynolds took us to see Phantom at the Ahmanson Theatre and I was hooked. I bought the Highlights tape and a mug at the gift shop kiosk outside. 

We were all impressed, though - it was our first actual Broadway production! 

Unfortunately, Michael Crawford wasn't performing that day (I know), but Sarah Brightman did, and the rest of the mains.

As was my habit back then, I listened to tapes in my Walkman with headphones on while I did homework, singing along, and Phantom became my obsession. I played that Highlights tape over and over until I knew every note in my sleep - 

And had transformed my voice.

See, Phantom is why and how I ended up a voice major and a soprano with a 4-octave-plus-5-note range (when I was still performing). 

We performed a Phantom medley that spring and I sang Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again for my solo (thinking of my grandfather who died in '86). 

Does it impress an audience of parents when a twelve-year-old girl yet to reach 5 feet tall sings operatic Broadway? Um, yeah.

(But to make sure I didn't get too big for my britches, I got horribly-painful laryngitis the fall of 1990, couldn't speak for 2 weeks, and couldn't sing for a month - and then I sounded like an alto. It would take until my sophomore year to get 100% of my range back!)

When Mrs. Reynolds retired in 1995, I sang the solo again. Many of her former students were still singing in high school and I'm grateful my h.s. director wanted to honor the junior high one. Mrs. Reynolds was very touched (we made her cry, oops).

Of course, every high school choir worth its salt performs songs from musicals and in the '90s, those were from Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sondheim and Bernstein, or Disney Animation. Show choir competitions loved them.

Do you have a favorite musical? A favorite song from one?

Did you ever see Phantom of the Opera live?

P.S. Did you know "Think of Me" has two recorded versions? 

The Highlights album and the full cast recording album have different versions for some reason! Imagine my surprise when I eventually got the two-tape full score and heard a different song. This latter version is also in the book of POTO songs you might pick up to perform them.

Aside from the Highlights longer version being my first, it's also my favorite. 

If you ever stumble upon someone singing "Think of Me" including "Think of August when the trees were green", they're singing the Highlights version - and I guess the oldest.


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