I left you when Anna, Anders and Zoe took off to get food and meet everyone else for Wicked. They asked me about a hundred times if I would be ok by myself, if I knew where I was going, how to get there, not to talk to strangers, etc. etc. I'll admit, I was a little nervous. London is really big, and if I got lost and missed Phantom I'd have to throw myself in front of a tube train, so maybe it was best for me to just go sit outside the theatre until it started. But no. I was feeling independent and adventurous, and wanted to see Leicester Gardens and Piccadilly Circus on my own time.
I bid them farewell, plugged in my headphones and set about looking for something to catch my interest. There is so much to see that it really isn't hard to get completely wrapped up in a matter of seconds. I checked out touristy little shops (I got a pair of London Underground boxers, suckas!), used book stores, little art galleries and any other stores or attractions that caught my eye. I loved it. I was in a huge city, on my own, 20 years old and completely confident in my ability to function and enjoy myself.
Around 6:15 I walked down to Her Majesty's Theatre to pick up my ticket. I couldn't be risking anything here. You guys know how important this is to me. Once I had it in hand, I realized how hungry I was, and walked down to Piccadilly Circus to hit the Tesco Metro. I got a Diet Coke and some dried mangoes, because nothing else looked good. I honestly think I was giving myself crazy anticipation anxiety about Phantom. I was so jittery. I think I checked my bag for my ticket every 30 seconds. Once I had my food I went and hung out in the square on the steps of the Statue of Eros. Legend has it that if you stay at the fountain for at least 1 hour you are guaranteed to see someone you know. We also heard that since Eros is the god of love, throwing coins in the fountain would bring you true love or something cliched and gay like that. Anyways. I hung out here people watching and getting progressively pumped up for Phantom for half an hour or so.
Around 7 I headed back to the theatre to try to catch Talia & Kelsey, or Kayla and her mom who were all going to be in the same showing as me. By 7:15 I hadn't seen them, so I headed in. I HEADED IN. Finally. To be seated. To see Phantom. The only thing I've ever really wanted to do before I died. It was surreal. I bought a program and a shirt (completely unashamed of my nerdiness at this point) and by the time I made it to my seat I was STRAIGHT TRIPPIN.
Seriously, I can't remember ever feeling like that. Who knows if I'll ever feel it again? I was jumpy and fidgety, which is not like me at all. My entire being seemed oriented towards the the stage, every cell in my body was yearning to hear the first notes of the overture. My seat was actually really good. I paid a little more for it, but obviously it's worth it to me. I had a seat just off center on the first balcony, and my view was great. (The last photo is dark but you can barely see the stage and the chandelier covered in a canvas.)
The lights went dim. Instantly my heart started to pound. I felt the adrenaline dump in my system and my heart battered away at my rib cage, to the point that I almost couldn't sit any longer. As the first notes rose out of the pit, I honestly felt my heart and soul kind of seize up. I really was losing control of my body. The first scene, the auction, is very quiet, but when the chandelier lights up and the orchestra starts blaring the theme I completely fell to pieces. I was CRYING. Crying you guys. I could barely breathe. I have never been so emotionally moved in my life. I highly doubt the ability of anything else to ever do that for me again. This really nice lady sitting next to me I'm sure thought I was crazy. Before it started we'd been chatting (she's a Kiwi - a person from New Zealand), and I communicated to her how much Phantom meant to me and how crazy I was about it. So maybe she got it. I don't know.
Phantom was amazing. I mean, the music speaks (sings?) for itself. One thing the movie can never duplicate though is the fantastic use of props and scenery. The decor for the underground lair, the boats and candles, was breathtaking. I often felt like I didn't know where to look because there was just so much that I wanted to drink in.
My heart didn't stop pounding the entire time. Masquerade and Music of the Night were way better Broadway-style. Each person was perfect for their role. The orchestra sounded fantastic. The props, as mentioned, were elaborate and fascinating. The entire experience filled me, lifted me, raised the dead in me. It was honestly one of the high points of my life. As I walked out of the theatre, elated, I had a sad moment of wonder.
Will I ever top this? What else do I have to live for? I guess that remains to be seen.
I quickly jogged down to the tube station, hopped on the train to Paddington Station (again, by myself. Loving it.), and caught the train with minutes to spare. I was delirious. Everything I've ever wanted came true that day. Anyone who knew me in 9th grade has a very good perception of what it meant to me. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. Even the anxiety of late night tube riding by myself, with the risk of missing the train back to Cardiff couldn't keep the bounce out of my step. I was exhausted on the train ride home, dozing in and out of Phantom dreams. Unfortunately we had to walk home at 1 in the morning, with plenty of "hen parties" and gross drunk Cardiff men downtown, but when I crashed into bed around 2 am in my Phantom t-shirt, I was content knowing that Phantom had exceeded my expectations and breathed new life into me.