When I was 10 or 11 – I think it was 1992 – my mother took us to Toronto for three days. We stayed in a fancy hotel right on Yonge St, we shopped down Yonge – at all the giant music stores that have since gone out of business, we got to rent a movie to watch in our hotel room. And she took us to see Phantom of the Opera.
The theatre – the Pantages at the time – had been specially renovated to look like the Paris Opera House where Phantom is set. I remember sitting in the third or fourth row and watching the chandelier fall from the ceiling and come crashing down on stage. I remember being totally enraptured. I spent the rest of that summer listening to the soundtrack and playing Christine, until I saw Les Miserables and then that was thrown into the mix as well.
Now, a couple of decades later the Pantages isn’t the Pantages anymore. It was the Cannon when I saw Wicked there a few years ago and now has been renamed the Ed Mirvish Theatre and that is where Matilda is playing. I go to take my daughter to her very first live musical in the same theatre where my mother introduced me to this magic.
I hope that Matilda has introduced to my daughter the same fire that I felt when I saw Phantom – and then Les Mis, Cats, Miss Saigon, Les Mis again, Tommy, Wicked, Mamma Mia, Spamalot, Avenue Q, Hairspray, Book of Mormon, Wicked again and again…
There is something special about the mix of acting and singing, something wonderful about the stories that break into song, something amazing about watching these actors that can do it all. I wanted to be one of them, and if my daughter dreams of that too – which I get the feeling she might – then I will encourage it. It’s a beautiful thing to do for audiences.
She cried when it was over, just because it had ended, and I promised we will see it again.