When: August 11th, 2004
First off though...getting to New York! I hopped the $10 Chinatown
bus (which is starting to get more popularity, Julie Hanson has used it herself, as it turns out) at 8am...which meant getting
up around 6...to get into New York around noon...enough time to get hopelesly lost in Chinatown. Turned out I didn't have
the route memorized from last time as much as I'd thought.
Anyways, I *ran* to meet our group and just made it in time
to wolf down lunch and skip to the theater to get our seats. I was sitting in the 5th row of the front mezzanine, dead center,
excellent seats if I may say so myself. Alright, scene by scene then...but only selected scenes, heh.
Yup, what Kim said, Julie goes up on pointe! She has my eternal admiration for that (as if she didnt already.) Gaschen
was *great* as Piangi, so funny, and he really made me believe he was falling off the elephant.
Think of Me:
Gahd, Julie's facial expression at the beginning of Think of Me, I melt everytime I see them. She was truly *made* for the
The Mirror: I was sitting in front of a mother and a daughter who had never seen the show before
and I swear they *shrieked* when Hugh's voice ripped through the theater, lol. a funny glitch happened in this scene, too.
The mirror began closing early, right as Christine took the Phantom's hand. I'd never seen a Christine leap into the mirror
Title Song: Excellent, excellent in every way imaginable. Hugh once again did the hand
thing to command the candles to rise higher. He's suave, he's powerful, he's in control! Erm...*cough*
of the Night: *dies a happy death* I didn't think it was possible, but Hugh has gotten even better since I last saw
him. During that one part, he was sooo close to kissing her, it was simply maddening. Then he held the note on "soar" simply
forever and I swear I heard the woman behind me sighing. Hehe, looks like Hugh's got himself yet more fans. When he draped
himself across the portcullis, I *loved* what Julie did. There was no crazy spin, she went right up to him, got *so* close
to him...and then backed away in horror as if thinking, "Oh my God, what the hell am I doing?" Hugh has also become much more
tender toward Christine in this scene. At the end, he knelt by Christine's side for the longest and didn't dare take his eyes
off her until the last possible second.
Kim, let's just say, I'm...glad *ahem* that you didn't sleep during this scene.
Prima Donna: Dear Lord, I swear this song got more applause than MOTN. It was very
well done but...hem, moving on.
Il Muto: We got an u/s Don Attilo, I think, because he didn't hold
his low note for nearly long enough. And I *loved* Hugh's maniacal laughter in this scene. I was in the mezz, so I saw him
up close and personal in the proscenium, and I swear he was leaping up and down and clapping when he was making Carlotta croak.
The Il Muto ballet was much more polished than last time, and my friend sitting next to me - who is a dancer - said that two
of the ballet girls were among the best dancers she had ever seen.
All I Ask of You: We had the biggest
Raoul-loving audience that afternoon. When they burst into applause right before the Reprise, I wanted to scream at them all
to be quiet. Ah well, so goes life.
Reprise: Utterly heart-breaking...*sniff*...he looked so much
like a beaten little boy in the Angel..I could've, and wanted to reach out and give him a hug. And the chandeler falling...dear
Lord, Julie definitely waitedtill the last possible second to get out of the way of the chandelier...though that was more
John Cudia's fault, more on that later.
Masquerade: Like with Il Muto, *much* more polished and well-done snice the last time
I saw it. That's another thing I love about this show, they just keep on improving it and perfecting it even though it's been
running for so long. Another funny flub...John dropped Julie's rose and was scramling on the floor to get it for a couple
of second. Also, after Why so Silent, the explosion didn't go off so everyone saw the Red Death drop through the trapdoor.
II/Twisted Every Way: Julie went psycho on Carlotta! Wow...I was seriously expecting a cat fight to break out then.
And then during Twisted...wow, how she therw herself into that scene, drawing forth every possible emotion. My friend told
me that she thought the Christine was just okay up until that scene, that was when she was truly wowed.
Graveyard: Wishing was stunning, you could really see Julie fighting with the ghosts of her past and trying to find
the strength to go on, truly a touching scene. Wandering Child was wonderful. Especially after John ran on, you really saw
Hugh just lose it. I swear he was jumping up and down like a spoiled brat on the mausoleum, I was so scared he was going to
fall off, lol. And then I could *feel* the heat from the flames all the way back in the mezz, I can only imagine how it must've
felt for my friends down in the orchestra.
Point of No Return: Stunning chemistry. When you saw Julie
run onto stage for the first time, she had such a mischeivous, wanton look on her face. And when Hugh came out from behind
the curtain, I heard the girl behind me yell, the Phantom! Smart girl. When she and Hugh were on the bench, wow, now that was something to see...this scene has also been polished.
Julie no longer looked so freaked out when Hugh began feeling her up and her hands when she was touching him had more...purpose,
shall I say? And wow, she looked soo pissed towards the end when he was dragging her across the stage.
Lair: A collective "ooo" whent up from the audience when Raoul jumped into the lake. And then it was not 70 but *34*
seconds that Julie had to change into the wedding dress. Ay caramba. And Hugh...he went *nuts*...definitely more violent and
unhinged than the last time I saw him. I actually winced when he slammed the mannequin to the ground, he was so furious. And
when Raoul appeared at the portcullis, he just sat in his throne and *laughed*, rubbing his hands together in glee. Then it
was a simple matter to get John's head in the noose and then the true magic began.
The look on Hugh's face when Julie
said that she hated him had to be seen to be believed. He just *crumbled*...he starting making feeble movements in Raoul's
direction and shaking his head over the organ, just muttering "No, no...", but it was too late and he had to see it through
until the end. He strode in Julie's direction, insisting that she choose and then backing quickly away from her as she approached,
as if afraid of her. He leaned way in close to her face as he growled "Make your choice!" and then immediately turned away,
an indescribable expression on his face, as if so disgusted with what he had started that he just couldn't stand to look anymore.
Kiss was handled beautifully...Hugh just went rigid...his arms coming up alongside her, but instead of just holding them out
to her sides like last time, he curled his hands toward her. They touched her hair ever so lightly before drawing away immediately,
not daring to touch her again. And afterwards instead of moving off right away they just looked at each other for the longest
time, not breathing. When he grabbed the candle to release Raoul and Julie yelled "No!" he had a look utterly with grief on
his face, as if he couldn't believe that she still thought him capable of killing Raoul after that. Julie handing back the
ring was perfectly done, her reaching out to touch his hand one last time before running off the stage and then there were
Hugh's pitiful repetitions of "I love you" as Julie and John rowed offstage. His final line was sung with perfectly...and
this time...I could see him spray one last bit of spit on the word "night!" hehe.
Wow...I get poetic when I'm emotional.
Curtain Call: Told you we had a Raoul-crazy audience, they *roared* when John ran onstage,
but that was okay cause they screamed just as loudly for Hugh...or at least I screamed quite loudly enough to compensate.
Well this was definitely
a first time experience for me. Especially since of the six people I was doing this phan gathering, the only one I had ever
before seen in erson was my roommate who ahd come with me, haha.
Since I was up in the mezz, I didn't get down to the
stagedoor till much after Kim. I loitered around the big metal door for a little while, wondering where the hell she was until
she called me and I found out that they and Steph had alrady barged right through to the actual stage door and that Julie
Hanson was waiting to give us a tour.
The first thing I noticed about Julie was how short she was, lol! Not that much
taller than me and that's saying something! She was also one of those people who truly did not need all that makeup to look
gorgeous. And if you're interested, you can see me in that pic to (our) left, holding programs and with my eyes closed I think,
lol. The two Julies meeting at last.
The last backstage tour in February I took was rather quick and hurried and the enjoyment quite spoiled
by my giddiness, but this time we did it properly, Julie grabbed a flashlight and shone it all around backstage, shwoing us
the elephant, the boat, the throne, the dressnig room, etc. And I can proudly say that I touched the Phantom's organ...and
all the while Kim was rolling her eyes at me and hissing "Don't touch" at me. Hey...Julie said "Don't touch too *much*"...so
I broke no rules. The Phantom's organ is wonderful...a tech guy turned it on so I pressed some keys and saw the bellows move.
I turned through the pages on the music stand and touched the dripping candle wax...which turns out is putty...or else really
loose rubber, some of it came off.
We saw the trap door that the Phantom has to fall through during Masuerade, it is *tiny*...made all the
smaller by that huge costume he has to wear. So the places where he has to place his toes are marked with bright tape...look
for them the next time you see the show, you'll see em.
The chandelier was onstage as well, and when one of us commented
that Julie was playing awfully close chicken with the chandelier at the end of Act I, she laughed and said it was all John's
fault. And that John would actually hold her in place, muttering "No, not yet, closer, closer..." when the chandelier was
barreling towards them.
And then my roommate the dancer had a long discussion about ballet with Julie. She complimented her
on her pointe and acted stunned when Julie told her the stage was metal. Hard as hell to dance on...especially when there's
a huge crack in the stage betwen the wings and the stage proper...Julie told me that she got her heel caugh in that crack
more than once, aww.
Then it was off to the costume room, which is *tiny*. Julie said that much of the ensemble changes
in the halls and wings, just because there's utterly no space in there. We saw the Hannibal dress and the nightgown...and
Julie told us about one time when she was geting changing in Christine's dressing room and she forgot to hold the Hannibal
dress on while the wardrobe mistress picked up the nightgown. Whooosh, there she was in her underwear in front of the entire
audience. Poor girl.
Then we passed under the stage and saw lots of little rooms where there were people sleeping before
the evening show. The gigantic blue mat that Raoul jumps onto also had someone sleeping on it. It also looked seriously comfortable,
Then we were off to the wig room and we could see all the wigs made especially for all the Christines plus understudies...Sandra,
Julie, Susan...and we saw Hugh's two wigs, the wispy one and the sleek one he wears for most of the performance before the
final unmasking. Julie explained that that both wigs are glued down to Hugh's head in Act One so that she doesn't accidentally
pull it off in the Lair. And in Act Two, the first wig is unglued while the wig underneath remains glued to his bald cap.
Once on tour...Brad Little's deformed wig was not glued propery onto his head, so she pulled *everything* off and Brad was
left with the baldcap...oopsies.
Then moved to a second costume room, where we met Julie's dresser..the one responsible
for getting her into the wedding dress in 34 seconds. It was around this point when Kim and Steph noticed Hugh dressed
in a black-and-red checkered cap, a T-shirt and white shorts (yes, I remember these things!) a few doors away. hey started
pointing and gesturing wildly until Steph finally lost patience and yelled "Hugh!" He turned...somewhat surprised...and we
all waved at him like idiots. We waited a little while for him to finish talking to another small group of people who had
found their way to the stage door. The mother, I noticed, looked most excited to be taking a picture with him.
then Hugh came around to talk to us and I mentioned that I had written to him and he said he a hugh stack of fanmail that
was yet to be answered and apologized. Ah...what a burden it is to be so loved. Anyways, I just said what I said in the letter to him, he was amazing...and I had seen him just half a year
ago on Valentine's Day and missed him coming out so I waited till he went back in. He acted...somewhat surprised, and flattered
and happy at the same time, lol. He signed stuff for his and chatted for a bit before leaving to sleep before the evening
Before we left, we saw a schedule up on a bulletin board of rehearsal times and a list of all the people away
because of sickness or illness. Larry Wayne Morbitt, usually Piangi, had apparently been out for a few weeks with bronchitis
or something awful like that. Poor man. And then...Julie presented ALL SEVEN of us with photos of her and Hugh...the publicity
shot the two of them had taken, signed by the both of them. Now I see even more what everyone is talking about when they say the Phantom cast is among the nicest ever.
Julie left then to do real stuff like eat...and sleep, lol. We hung around together for the next half hour or
so, signing a thank you card for Julie before we went our separate ways. It was a simply wonderful experience...Glinda, Boston
in the fall, whooo!