The Phantom of the Opera
Performance #7,486: From the Stage
By Mary Leigh Stahl
It was almost like opening night. The house went to half and the excitement
form the audience was palpable. By the time the action ended and the
chandelier made its way from the stage to the ceiling, the audience was
cheering and the cast was jazzed. Carlotta’s cadenzas, the entrances
of the three remaining original cast members, the journey to The Lair;
all were greeted with joyous, appreciative applause. Not a joke was missed;
not a moment passed unacknowledged.
At the end of the “gala” six ballerinas from the Music Box
touring company joined the corps de ballet to congratulate Christine
and to go through the barre exercises to create a perfect Degas picture.
Act 2: Masquerade: Nineteen cast members joined the Broadway company
on the stairs and on the deck. Not only was the visual effect stunning,
but the sound of all those live voices was unforgettable. I felt like
we could blow out the back wall of the house.
Finale: At the end of the final bow, mysterious music began and the
light6s dimmed. The Broadway cast, joined by 19 members of the Music
Box cast, criss-cross the stage and disperse to reveal 14 ballerinas
who part, and at the center is “Victoria”, the white cat.
Against a starry background and a full moon, she moved downstage left
to pass the mantle of CATS to the Phantom. As the combined companies
slowly return, the Phantom receiver her gift and she crossed to center,
where she pauses to bow to the cast. They return her bow and she exits
right as the cast wishes her well on her way. The whole stage begins
to swirl and mingle and suddenly the current Raoul leads on seven previous
Raouls from stage left. From stage right, the current Christine leads
on 16 previous Christines. The Raouls and Christines meet and part, and
from up center the Phantom leads on 13 previous Phantoms followed by
28 members of the original Broadway cast. The all join together for a
reprise of Masquerade and split at the center to welcome Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber,
who in turn introduces Hal Prince, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, and Gillian
Lynne. Each of the “creatives” thanks his and her collaborators
and special mention is made of Maria Bjornson and Steve Barton, who have
left us too soon. Then Sir Andrew introduces the original Phantom, Michael
Crawford, who with his unforgettable style commands the managers to let
the celebration begin. The stage and the house are showered with silver
and gold confetti and streamers and with balloons bearing the Phantom
mask. The celebration then moved to the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria ‘til
the wee small hours.