Let the Dream Begin, Again

Seven years after its ten-year run at the Pantages Theatre came to an end, The Phantom of the Opera is back in Toronto. This spells trouble.

I’ll be there tomorrow night, of course; I was also at the final performance back in 1999, when Paul Stanley (yes, the Starchild from KISS) was playing The Phantom. The question is, how many times will I see it after that? In case you didn’t know, Phantom has a weird grip on me. I’ve seen the show an embarassing nineteen times: fifteen in Toronto, two in New York and one each in London and Detroit. It’ll have been at least twenty-one after this latest Toronto run ends sometime in June (I’m also going April 7, although it’s a safe bet I’ll be going at least once more after that). Yet in spite of the frequency with which I’ve seen the show, I’m no nearer to understanding its attraction to me.

This Toronto run will be a bittersweet occasion: the Mirvishes’ decision to move the show from its spiritual home, the Pantages (a.k.a. the Canon), to the Princess of Wales Theatre was disappointing, since the the Pantages and Phantom in Toronto are virtually synonymous. I’ve also got no idea what to expect from the cast; there’s been a significant turnover since Bri and I saw the same production in Detroit two years ago, although it’ll be nice to see Kim Stengel as Carlotta again. I figure I’ll just go in with an open mind–or, well, as open a mind as I can have–and let it go from there. Tomorrow, then, will be a lot like revisiting an old friend–albeit one who’s moved out of their childhood home and into a condo.

Full review, etc, to follow. In the meantime, and for no one’s edification but mine, I’ve seen Phantom on the following dates and in the following places:

  1. Friday, October 18, 1991: Pantages Theatre, Toronto
  2. Saturday, October 3, 1992: Pantages Theatre, Toronto
  3. Saturday, October 2, 1993: Pantages Theatre, Toronto
  4. Saturday, October 1, 1994: Pantages Theatre, Toronto
  5. Saturday, October 6, 1995: Pantages Theatre, Toronto
  6. Thursday, March 13, 1997: Pantages Theatre, Toronto
  7. Saturday, May 3, 1997: Pantages Theatre, Toronto
  8. Saturday, May 17, 1997: Pantages Theatre, Toronto*
  9. Friday, November 21, 1997: Pantages Theatre, Toronto
  10. Sunday, May 10, 1998: Pantages Theatre, Toronto
  11. Sunday, July 26, 1998: Pantages Theatre, Toronto
  12. Saturday, May 1, 1999: Pantages Theatre, Toronto
  13. Saturday, May 22, 1999: Pantages Theatre, Toronto**
  14. Thursday, July 16, 1999: Pantages Theatre, Toronto
  15. Sunday, October 31, 1999: Pantages Theatre, Toronto
  16. Monday, August 26, 2001: Majestic Theatre, New York
  17. Wednesday, May 15, 2001: Majestic Theatre, New York
  18. Sunday, March 6, 2005: Masonic Temple Theatre, Detroit
  19. Tuesday, March 14, 2006: Her Majesty’s Theatre, London

(Ahem, that was by memory I’ll have you know!)

(*–This was actually my first-ever date. Chicks dig guys who dig musical theatre.)

(**–This was the best performance of Phantom I’ve ever seen, for reasons which couldn’t have been predicted. The cast was strong–and Rene Simard was stellar in the title role–the house was packed and the sense of occasion was, for whatever reason, palpable. Plus, our seats were awesome.)

So: this time tomorrow I’ll be getting ready to leave for the theatre. You probably don’t care; you certainly don’t care as much as I do. But for whatever reason, and for better or for worse, The Phantom of the Opera remains one of the truly seminal influences on my life. Without it, there’s a good chance this blog wouldn’t exist. There’s also the very real chance I’d still be single, as contradictory as that may seem. For those reasons, don’t you almost owe it to yourself to be happy for me?

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