“PHANTOM OF THE OPERA! Play THE PHANTOM!”
I knew two important things about the lady next to me in the lobby bar. First, there she loved her some Andrew Lloyd Weber, for sure. Second, her love of THE PHANTOM was only slightly stronger than her love of chardonnay.
When someone is literally screaming about THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA in the Pfister’s Lobby Bar you could say that my interest is slightly piqued. Full disclosure…I’ve never seen the entire musical. I’ve seen half of it. About seven times. I have that notch in my belt because I’m a guy who went to college in New York City and, search with few resources but lots of love for the theatre, successfully “second acted” a lot of Broadway shows. Second acting for those of you who are honest, forthright and true, the type of people who would never tangle with the natural order of buying tickets for a play, is when you wait outside a theatre during intermission and wander back in with the real audience, ailment plopping yourself in an open seat or standing-room position. In my case, wearing a suit helped me blend in nicely with the throngs of theatregoers out on the town. Other friends I knew who were successful in second act circles could get by with no more than a clean pair of jeans.
As the lady in question got up to stuff a handful of cash into the jar of the lobby lounge evening’s pianist, I doubted she was a second acter. She wanted her PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and damned if she wasn’t going to pay cash money for it.
As she made her way back to her seat next to me in the bar, I stopped her. I figured someone this passionate, this in love with PHANTOM could help me out.
“Excuse me,” I said. “I’m curious about the PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and…”
Before I could finish my sentence, one in which I had planned to ask the woman to explain the first act plot to me, zeal took over and filled the lady’s mouth with a swell of musical notes on the subject.
“PHANTOM…I’ve seen it four times. One time in New York City, one time in Detroit, and two times here. It is my favorite. My favorite, you hear, my absolute favorite.”
She gushed about the grandeur of the music, the opulence of the sets and costumes, and about how it was the greatest musical of all time. And just as I opened my mouth to ask her to explain the salient plot points I had missed during all those first acts gone by, another voice pulled her attention and she leaned back into her table.
“Can I get you another?” There was no turning back for PHANTOM OF THE OPERA lady. Our conversation was over
Over the next several minutes with my unanswered question dangling in my head, I listened to the lady organize the folks at her table, reminding them despite the late hours they were keeping there was a morning gathering that they all needed to get to.
“9:30. AM. That’s when everyone needs to be down here in the lobby. Dressed. Ready to go. 9:30, and not a minute later.”
As the midnight bell tolled, the woman’s drive to schedule the lives of her friends and family punched through the synthesized baroque strains of “Music of the Night” and the “Masquerade.” It was late and that 9:30am summons seemed too near as the follow up round of drinks landed on tables next to me. Morning might be rough for everyone else, but the lady with the love of PHANTOM didn’t seem to care.
“Play it again! Oh my God, that was beautiful.” I may not know how the story begins, but bedtime be damned when THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is in the house.
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