Since my birthday happened to be on a Tuesday this year I had to wait until Saturday to make my trip. Armed with tickets to the matinee of Phantom of the Opera and the evening show of The Fantasticks I made the hour long trip up to meet up with my college friend Cristin and see some awesome theatre.
I know what some of you may be thinking - "Gosh, Kristin, those are so old. Couldn't you see something new?" Sure, I could have but I chose these two for a few reasons. I first saw Phantom at the Forrest Theatre in Philadelphia when I was sixteen - the tickets were my birthday present that year. And, a few years ago I decided to take my sister to see the show in New York.
When it was announced James Barbour would be taking over the role of the Phantom another visit would be necessary. I saw James three times in A Tale of Two Cities (once out of town and twice in New York), in Donnybrook, and three times in concert. I had tickets to see him in Rebecca but the show was cancelled due to financial problems. I'd missed his award-winning turn as Jean Valjean because it happened in California.
One of my favorite moments in the show is when the chandelier is pulled up and we're launched into that thrilling overture. And there are many more favorite moments after that. I know there are people who don't like the show but I enjoy it very much.
After the show Cristin and I braved the cold to say hi to James. We were told he didn't always come up but we waited anyway. And look:
After Phantom we headed up the street to have dinner at Junior's which is one of my favorite places to eat on a cold day. Their hot chocolate and grilled cheese sandwich is the perfect way to chase the chills away. They're always busy but if the wait isn't too bad it's definitely worth it.
After dinner we headed over to The Jerry Orbach Theatre for the Fantasticks. While Phantom of the longest running musical on Broadway; the Fantasticks is the world's longest running musical. The original production ran for forty-two years and 17,162 performances. The current production has been running since 2006 and the combined runs have played over 20,000 performances.
I had actually never seen the show before and was only familiar with one of the songs - Try to Remember. I knew of the show because it had been a favorite of my late father's. I had always planned to see the show but with such a long run it becomes one of those shows you'll "get to later" since so many others come and go so quickly. But, when Max Crumm joined the show I knew I could wait no longer. I was standing right up against the stage on the CBS Studios lot the night Max won the role of Danny Zuko on the NBC television series Grease: You're the One That I Want. I saw him go on as Danny five times at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre - including the night he took his final bow. So, I knew I had to finally make plans to see this show.
It was a small and lovely production - only seven people make up the cast. I wasn't what to expect but I found myself enjoying the show very much. I laughed, I was moved, and I had a very good time.
The day was over far too quickly before I knew it I was on the train on my way back home. But, I'll be back next month to see Finding Neverland and I am very much looking forward to that. And, maybe there could be another visit to Phantom and Fantasticks in my future. We'll just have to wait and see one that one.