As I’ve stated before, I fell in love with musical theatre thanks largely in part to a night in August, 2010 where I first experienced the final North American Tour of the original Phantom of the Opera at PlayhouseSquare in Cleveland. Fast-forward 4 years and my dream to be in the show came true!
Last night at 6:30pm is where the whole, “is this really happening?” night began. I found myself walking in the stage door of the Winspear Opera House and being shown where my dressing room was. Yes, I had a dressing room, with my name on it! My costume was waiting on a rack in the room, and I had flowers and a nice welcome note on the mirror. I didn’t have much time to settle in though, it was time to get down to business.
The stage manager tasked with getting me to and from my positions all night was Heather Chockley and she was knocking at the door to show me the blocking for my scenes. We headed down to the stage, which was a hustle and bustle of activity as things were being prepared for the house to open, and that night’s audience to come in. She showed me where to pick up my prop Playbill for my scene, and where to meet my on-stage date for the show. We walked through the routine of our opera box being opened, and us stepping out onto the stage. Then we were shown how to exit the box after our scene. It was all pretty simple for us, but the stage itself is a technical marvel full of moving parts. It was all pretty overwhelming to take in.
After our blocking, it was time to get ready for the show. Costume, hair, make-up, and in my case…a dashing period appropriate mustache. I’ve heard actors say that once they put the costume on…the character really starts to dictate mannerisms and give you clues as to how you should play the role. That is entirely true!
As I stood staring at this mustachioed and tuxedoed character in the mirror I started noticing changes in how I walked, how I stood, and how I carried myself. I was slipping into character. Just in time too, it was time to go on.
I stepped out into my opera box and watched as Christine Daae made her transformation from ballet girl, to leading soprano during “Think of Me.” Then, at the end of the number, our box spun into the wings and in an instant my first scene was over. I hurried back to my dressing room to wait for my second and final scene and in a similar fashion, it was all over before I could really let it all sink in. It was an almost dream-like experience, a blur.
As I sat in my dressing room watching Act 2 on the small TV, I was astonished at how many cast members stopped by to say hello and welcome me to the show. People from all corners of the world, and even an actor or two with which I shared mutual friends. Theatre is a large, but tight-knit community and it seems everyone knows everyone else. The cast was beyond sweet, and so down to earth. It was a delight to work with all of them.
At the end of the show I stood in the wings and watched as Cooper Grodin (this show’s Phantom) sang the final words to my favorite Broadway musical:
“You alone can make my song take flight, It’s over now the music of the night.”
The curtain fell, raised again, and the curtain call began. The night had come to a close as it does every night. But this night was different, because I can now say that for one night, I was a cast member in the longest running and highest grossing piece of entertainment of all time, The Phantom of the Opera. That, is pretty spectacular.
Special thanks to Jennifer Goulding, Caroline Crocker, Jody Dean, Heather Chockley, Frank Viveros, Brad Oscar, Ed Staudenmayer, David Ruttura, AT&T Performing Arts Center and the entire cast and crew of the 25th Anniversary Tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. Thanks for making this a night that I will never forget!
Check out some more photos from last night in the PHOTOS section.