Tuesday 5 March 2013

I dreamed a dream...

Screen shots from my latest DVD
From a young age I wanted, more than anything, was to be an actress. More specifically, I wanted to be in musical theatre. In my teens the extent of this ambition extended to a subscription to The Stage which had to be ordered specially by the newsagent in my village. I belonged to the local amateur dramatic society. I even attempted to learn ballet and tap... I was already singing.

At the end of the day (you're another day older) what it came down to was that a lot of people want to be on the stage; and only a few are really good enough. I wasn't one of them. Not a thick enough skin to take the inevitable slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. 

It never stopped me learning almost entire librettos of my favourite musicals. From old musicals (The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, High Society, Singing in the Rain and the rest) to the more modern fare - most particularly Les Misérables and Phantom of the Opera; I did (and i some cases still do) know them all.

My acquaintance with Les Mis extends back to owning it on vinyl... and learning the songs and incidentals almost by osmosis. 

My love affair though, was with Phantom. This was rekindled on Friday when I found a DVD for sale of the 25th Anniversary celebration. Not a concert at The O2 like Les Mis; but a fully formed production at the Albert  Hall. Such a happy afternoon. The years had not dimmed my recollection of the libretto (although some of the lines have changed!). I was right back to wanting to be Christine Daa√©. 

All my life I've had a habit of forming an attachment to a thing, a hobby, a book whatever - I immerse myself in it; I find out everything that is to be known; nearly always one thing at a time.

For me, the adoration of the story of Phantom went beyond Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical. I read the novel by Gaston Leroux both in English and French. I watch the old silent movies. I read the several further books "Phantom" by Susan Kay and "The Phantom of Manhattan" by Frederick Forsyth. When I went to Paris, I was sure to photograph the famous opera house. 

I drew the mask and the rose that were so symbolic of the musical; I wrote out the libretto painstakingly listening to it one summer holiday in Wales on the tape deck in my Dad's silver Volvo. I even used to address my diary entries to Erik (the Phantom). For about a decade of my life it was the  thing that consumed my attention.

As these things come and go, so too did my obsession. My all consuming attention turned to Beanie Babies...after that it moved onto London (the city, the history, the buildings) and now I think it must have settled on the internet (!).

It was good to have Phantom back for an afternoon... as it was Les Mis with the new movie the other week; but they are only playing understudies in my life now.

Let's see if we can drive away the ghost of some many years ago with a little illumination... gentlemen!