'Phans' profess their love, pick their favorites

Category: Phantom of the Opera News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: January 8, 2006 | Publication: NewJersey.Com | Author: Editors
Publication/Article Link:http://www.bergen.com/

Howard McGillin has played the title role in "The Phantom of the Opera" in almost 1,400 performances.

On Monday, "The Phantom of the Opera" becomes the longest-running show in Broadway history. And 18 years after opening night, Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical is as popular as ever. In fact, the musical took in more money at the box office in 2005 than it did in any other year of its run. We asked the musical's biggest fans (or "phans" as they call themselves) to name their favorite Phantom and tell us why the show has earned such a devoted following.

Although I'm only in eighth grade, I've seen more Broadway shows than most adults I've met, being a Broadway/movie buff. While I love such shows as "Les Miserables," "Spamalot" and "Wicked," none of the three can come close to the power and impact of that resounding gavel sound at the beginning of the auction; that chord at the lighting and rising of the chandelier; the charm of that long-lasting last note of "The Music of the Night"; the passion of the greatest duets ever written, "All I Ask of You" and "The Point of No Return"; that incredible recurring theme song or the sadness and sympathy for the main character at the end of the show. I've seen the show a total of six times since third grade and may be seeing it again in March. ... My dream is to go backstage to the show with my friends Stevan, Chris, Andrew and Julianne. They've all fallen in love with it, too. I also wish to direct my own "Phantom of the Opera" movie.

-- Jared Cardenas, 14, Bergenfield, student

I saw it twice on Broadway and once in Florida. My friends and acquaintances also saw it multiple times. We have concluded that our favorite Phantom is Gerard Butler in the latest movie version. We like this version best because Butler portrays a more compassionate, loving Phantom, making it a romantic story line rather than the more controlling, mean Phantom portrayed in previous movie versions and onstage.

-- Jessie J. Fernandez, 74, Saddle Brook, retired bookkeeper

I've seen "Phantom" three times, and my favorite Phantom was Mark Jacoby.

Back in the early '90s when I was part of Ms. Woodmaska's gifted and talented class [at Roosevelt Elementary School in North Arlington], we attended a performance of "Phantom" and wrote to its star to tell him of how much we enjoyed his Phantom. We invited Mr. Jacoby to visit our class (fully expecting him to decline) but to our amazement, he accepted!

The day he visited, there were as many moms in the classroom as kids!

-- Anthony Gennace, 25, North Arlington, graduate student in clinical psychology

I have seen "Phantom" five times on Broadway and once on the London stage. The No. 1 Phantom still has to be Michael Crawford. ... I have seen many great shows on Broadway, but "The Phantom of the Opera" is truly in a class of its own.

-- Norm Ivers, 55, Oakland, teacher

"The Phantom of the Opera" has been with me since 1987, through two marriages! I saw it for the first time in London in 1987 and fell immediately in love. Michael Crawford was and always will be the Phantom -- such depth and pain! In the fall of 1987 I was divorced. When Phantom came to Broadway, I saw it in previews with a divorced friend. ... In 1988 when I began dating my present husband, I knew I had to take him to see it. I paid $450 for two tickets in the nosebleed seats. Because you did not get the full power of the music up in the high balcony, I took him to see it three months later in the orchestra. When we married two years later, we walked down the aisle in our back yard to the soundtrack of "All I Ask of You." For our first anniversary, we saw "Phantom" again. A few years later, I took my 80-year-old mother and my 30-year-old daughter to see it -- we had second-row seats. Side note: I received a speeding ticket on the Taconic State Parkway because I didn't hear my radar detector going off -- I had the soundtrack blasting!

I still get goose bumps listening to the soundtrack.

-- Jeanne Kelly, 60, Saddle River, board of education community school office manager

I have seen "Phantom" six times, and Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman were the best. The show is a hit because of the combination of the scenery and music. Every time I left the theater I was humming one song or another. It's a great love story as well.

-- Richard Moskow, 65, Wayne, retired ski tour operator

My wife [Audrey] and I first saw the show in 1998 as an anniversary present. We really enjoyed the show and expected to see it again. We did not expect to see the show another 10 times. As it turns out, our nephew John Cudia (my brother-in-law's son) has been in the show. ... In 2001 (maybe a year earlier) we first saw John in the part of Raoul with the national road tour in both Boston and Connecticut. In 2002, he joined the Broadway show in the role of Raoul and as understudy as the Phantom. A very exciting night was Jan. 18. 2003, when we saw him as the Phantom ... He left the Broadway show in early 2005 and has recently rejoined the national tour as Raoul ... A sidebar love story: John married Kathy Voytko, who played the part of Christine on the road tour.

-- Jack Nagel, 56, Wood-Ridge, advertising specialty business owner

I [saw] "Phantom" when it first opened on Broadway with Michael Crawford and ever since have seen the show six more times. I think it's one of the most creative shows I have seen on Broadway with the beautiful background scenery that was created for the show. The music is superior ... and the cast that performs also is superior. ... I also bought the original CD of the Broadway show and the movie when that came out. I will always be a fan of "The Phantom of the Opera." Who knows? I might make a trip into N.Y.C. to see it the eighth time.

-- Joan Pavlicek, 57, Clifton, accounting manager

Saw "Phantom" six times, first time in 1988. Best Phantom, with all due respect to the others, was Michael Crawford. ... [I] had quite an experience the first time I saw it in September 1988. It was one minute before curtain time [and] my wife Rhoda at that time noticed 20 empty seats near us in the orchestra. She said, "So much for a sellout" -- then people began applauding. In came ex-President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter with Secret Service men. We were overwhelmed. To only top that, sitting directly behind us was Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver. ... [T]hat was the only time [when] onstage was upstaged by offstage.

-- Elliot Pollack, 57, Teaneck, teacher

From the moment I first heard the Broadway soundtrack my mother would play throughout the house when I was 5 or so, I noticed something amazing through "Phantom." There was always a special something that made that music really stand out to me. The songs were eerie and haunting yet beautiful and gentle.

My real love for "Phantom" didn't really start though until almost a year ago, when the 2004 movie version was realized. After I viewed the movie, I was immediately inspired and saw the movie 17 times until it went out of the cinemas. Then, a few months later, my mother took my sister and me to finally see the Broadway show, which I will never, never forget. ... I was inspired so deeply through "Phantom" that after viewing it I really want to become a musician. I feel closer than ever to music than I've ever felt in my whole life, and I think I'll always have a deep connection to "The Phantom of the Opera" and music for the rest of my life.

-- Caroline Popp, 13, Ridgefield, student

I was lucky enough to see "The Phantom of the Opera" about a year or so after it first came to Broadway.

After seeing it, I have to say that there never was anything as magnificent as it, nor will there ever be. Everything about it is pure magic, especially the haunting, beautiful music. I love the chandelier also. ...

When the movie version came out, we saw it about 20 times until it was no longer in the theaters. Even after that, we went to see the play again and enjoyed it just as much as ever. And if today I was asked to go again, I would be the first one there. We are truly "Phantom" Phanatics!

-- Pamela Popp, 41, Ridgefield, homemaker

Fifteen or so odd years ago we had tickets for several months down the road, but as a jazz lover I wasn't terribly excited about any musical. Then I heard the music. It absolutely consumed me. I called to see if there were earlier tickets available, and the box office had a single seat in the back row for two weeks hence. With permission, of course, I went. Enjoyed the show the second time as well. A few years later I went to visit the folks in Florida and learned of a local production. Dragged them along. About two years ago we got the urge again and returned to the New York production. Along the way I purchased the sheet music and -- if anyone asks -- I play it on my sax. ...

-- David Sandler, 59, Oakland, accountant