How did you get into Phantom?
It’s a question that all of us are asked as Phans, at one point or another, by other Phans. Just as enthusiasts of other hobbies like sharing their “first time” stories, so do we. As such, I thought it appropriate that my first post on this site be an account of just how I came to be a Phantom of the Opera enthusiast.
I was 16 and had seen the previews for the 2004 film starring Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum advertised on television commercials. I remember thinking how good the movie looked and how much I wanted to see it, but at that time, I didn’t really know what The Phantom of the Opera was. I believe I’d heard of it, but I wasn’t familiar with the story line. I just knew that the movie looked like the kind of romantic films that I was always falling in love with.
Unfortunately, the premiere of the movie came and went, and I didn’t get to see it in theaters. Then, one day, my dad rented a movie from the video store here in town. (Yes, a little more than a decade ago you could still rent videos from a video store. The video store my dad rented the 2004 film from is no more, but I digress…)
You can imagine my delight when he brought home The Phantom of the Opera for me to watch. He’d thoughtfully remembered how I’d been interested in that movie and picked it up for me. Of course, my dad’s a great guy like that and likes to spoil the ones he loves.
We, as a family (my mom, dad, brother, and I), all started watching. I think my mom, dad, and brother all eventually wandered off to do their own activities and didn’t finish watching the movie, but me..I was transfixed.
From the moment the first note of the overture was played, I was hooked, glued to the TV screen. I’d never really been a big fan of opera before (and, yes, I now know that the singing that Emmy and Gerard did in the 2004 film isn’t really opera, but back then, it was the first taste of operatic-ish music I’d gotten, so I believed it was real opera), but this…this I loved. I was enamored with the setting, the costumes, the story, and, most importantly, the music.
This was the first movie that I ever cried watching. While I certainly experienced sadness and despair over other tragic movies, such as Titanic, I’d never actually had the physical reaction of tears at my emotion when watching a movie before. Generally, I wasn’t a crier during movies, no matter how sad they were. It took The Phantom of the Opera to bring that out in me.
From that moment on, I was obsessed. I immediately watched the movie again right after it ended, and this time I turned on the subtitles so I could learn every word that was being said, or rather, sung. I watched it over and over again for the three days that we had it rented from the movie rental store and pretty much had it memorized when the time came to return it to the video store.
Of course, from that moment on, for birthdays, Christmases, and any other special occasions that warranted gifts, I wanted anything that had to do with the classic tale.
First, I acquired the 2-disc Deluxe CD set of the original motion picture soundtrack:
Followed shortly by the 2-disc Special Edition original motion picture DVD:
Then, came the books, original soundtrack, and so on. I read all the POTO fan fiction I could find online at fanfiction.net. (Back then there wasn’t the great plethora of published POTO-inspired books that there is today.)
Eventually, as part of my high school graduation gift, my parents took my bestie and me to see the musical performed live in St. Louis in the summer of 2006. The next year, in the summer of 2007, we went again to see Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular in Las Vegas. While I can go on and on providing reviews of both of those productions, I’ll save those for later posts.
So that’s my story in a nutshell. While there are many Phans who are critics of the 2004 film, for me it will always be a favorite simply because had it not been for the film, I might not have ever discovered POTO.
What’s your story? Feel free to post any thoughts or comments below.