Equity News

January/February 2006

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.