On Saturday I went to Toronto with my dad and sister to see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera at the Princess of Wales theatre in Toronto. I can’t remember when we decided to see it, only that Mirvish called us to tell us the shows coming for the upcoming year and my sister got excited about Phantom and we decided that would be our show of the year.
I come from a family of theatre lovers. My parents ingrained it in my sister and I young, the first show we saw was Peter Pan: the musical for our seventh or eighth birthday and my sister and I completely fell in love with theatre. In some ways my sister more than me, she realized she loved theatre and the stage in a different way, wanting to be up there with Peter and Wendy and all the lost boys. I shared those dreams for a little while before realizing I was better suited for the audience, or someday creating things for the stage.
Since then we tried to see a theatre show every year around our birthday, mostly because the biggest local theatre in our city always performs a musical around my sister and I’s birthday. But if that theatre wasn’t performing a show we were interested in we checked to see what Toronto had to offer. We’ve seen Oliver!, Cats (which was a whole new obsession that could be it’s own blog post), Les Miserables, Wicked, The Lion King, The Sound of Music, Matilda, Book of Mormon, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and countless other plays and musicals from local theatre productions I just can’t remember right now.
My sister and I were beyond excited to see Phantom. We’re huge Andrew Lloyd Webber fans (because of Cats, again, another blog post for another time) and were dying to see it. Our dad had seen it with our mom in 1992 with the original Toronto production (WITH COLM WILKINSON AS THE PHANTOM!) and they absolutely loved it. I remember my mom wearing a Phantom of the Opera sweatshirt religiously when I was younger and being afraid of the mask because I didn’t understand it. I found the sweater, faded now and worn, and wore it on Saturday.
We like to make seeing theatre special when we go in Toronto and for the past few years have booked a hotel room in the theatre district and stay for the weekend. We used to drive up to Toronto, but traffic is insane, and so we’ve opted to take the GO bus which is much less stressful and way easier. We then walk to the hotel, which really isn’t far from Union Station and check in. Then we usually go to a nearby cafe for lunch and then head to the theatre for the matinee.
When we got to the theatre my sister and I loaded up on theatre swag (you should see how much we own of different musicals by now). My sister paid for my stuff which was very kind of her (thanks Meg!) and I got a Phantom sweatshirt, pin, and souvenir program (which I collect) while she got a red t-shirt and pin.
We then looked for our seats and after some wandering and weaving found our seats only to be surprised to find that we happened to choose our seats RIGHT UNDER THE CHANDELIER (if you don’t know, the chandelier is kind of a big deal in Phantom of the Opera)!
And I don’t know exactly what to say about Phantom because it was breathtaking. This was the new staging of the show, and obviously I have nothing to compare it to but it’s absolutely fantastic. The stage moves and shifts and it just brings you into the story. The costumes were beautiful, the performers so incredibly talented, the special effects were amazing (and very bright) and the chandelier! Everything was unforgettable and made me want to watch it again as soon as we reached curtain call. It was a fantastic show, and I only had to tell one person behind me to shut up when the second act started (I PAID $200 FOR THESE TICKETS NOT TO HEAR YOU TALKING TO YOUR BOYFRIEND BE QUIET), seriously people, learn some theatre etiquette!
We’re already planning for next year, I know I’ll be seeing Dear Evan Hansen with friends, but I think our next family musical trip will be to see Come From Away. It’s Canadian, it’s new, and I want to know more about it!
Theatre is something that will always be a part of my life, whether it’s me watching my sister on stage, or writing something I’d like to see on stage, or just sitting comfortably with my family watching others on stage. I will always be close to the stage, and I am so happy for that.
(Chandelier picture my own from the 2018 touring production of Phantom of the Opera at the Princess of Wales theatre on June 16 2018 in Toronto, Ontario.)