Hamburg Review - 10th Anniversary

Written by Lavinia

My abiding memories of the dress rehearsal are Erik (Michael Nicholson) descending the Masquerade steps in his jeans (which made Christiane double up with laughter - I know some people on this list would have found that annoying, but you should try keeping control at such a sight!), Firmin being the odd one out during the managers' scene (he was the only one not in costume) and Erik having a normal face when the mask is ripped off!

The 10th anniversary performance was phantastic and our seats were wonderful. Felt very strange to see Michael completely costumed and made-up - what a difference! He looked just right and I couldn't keep my eyes off him. It was fun standing outside the stage door later (despite the rain - thank goodness for my newly acquired Das Phantom der Oper umbrella) especially when some champagne appeared from a coolbox accompanied by plastic glasses. When the man spoke to everyone in German I guessed what he was saying by other people's reactions, but I thought it was too good to be true. It was amazing to be allowed upstairs to the cast's 'home' and to have "For they are jolly good fellows" sung when we entered created a very warm feeling inside. It was so nice to know that we were appreciated. At one point I was standing mesmerised by everything and Colby tried to get past me and spoke German. When I said "I understand English better" she was very surprised and delighted that she could speak her native tongue. She was even more surprised when she realised we'd come all the way from England especially for the celebration. Somebody had produced a wonderful scrap book of cuttings, drawings and letters all related to her and she was completely taken with it (she hoped her mother wouldn't get hold of it because she would never see it again if she did!). I managed to get my picture taken with her and I look like 10-Tonne Tess compared with her - she is so tiny and looks so fragile!

My surprise at being invited backstage was enormous and I was so excited to get near everything. At one point I wandered off in a trance and when I returned someone was sitting in the throne, then they disappeared! At last, I had an idea how the throne works. The next few minutes seemed like a dream because I also sat in the throne and disappeared! At last, I know EXACTLY how the throne worked!! It was not easy to get it right first time and very difficult to move properly while wearing a long, slim dress (the same one I wore for my 100th back in November). I still find it hard to believe I actually sat in the throne and poor Jeanette and the others had to put up with me constantly saying "Did I really do that?" Sorry guys!

Friday night was something else altogether! Before the show started Jeanette and I were standing by the glass partition between ticket holders and non-ticket holders when the cameras started popping. Naturally my curiosity got the better of me and I tried to get a closer look. Then I realised that if I stood too close to the glass I could get on camera, so I tried moving back while still being able to see who this person was. When I got the paper (Bild) the next day, there was a picture of this guy (Sven Ottke - a boxer) and in the background I can just make out me and Jeanette behind the glass! I finally made the papers in a Phantom context!!!!! The party was fantastic and I only found out the drinks were free when I took a swig out of my water bottle and a German man told me! At one point I decided the section we were in was a bit boring so I asked Jeanette if she wanted to go downstairs because the important people were most likely to be down there. Boy, am I glad I moved - we were surrounded by the cast (old and new) and had a wonderful time collecting autographs and talking to them all. At one point I was talking to Marcello Ronchietto (Piangi) in Italian which felt very surreal - in a German theatre speaking Italian! One request - if you ever see an autographed programme from the German production anywhere on the internet please let me or Jeanette know because, unfortunately, Jeanette misplaced her personalised copy and it could well be hers. Vera Berisova was amazed at how many times we had seen the show and was very pleased when I said she was the best Carlotta I'd seen - especially regarding the croak (sorry Jasna, but you are now a very close second).

When we arrived at the theatre there was a large banner on the front saying that Phantom was 10 and when we went in we were confronted with a very large gold 10 surrounded by gold cherubs (same colour as the proscenium sculptures). Further into the theatre there was a huge white mask and if you drew a diagonal line from the bottom of it, it would end bang in the middle of the stage (according to our new friend Vincent). All around the foyer (once you'd got passed the tickets-only barrier) was an exhibition of photos, costumes, other props and, best of all, full size statues of Christine and Erik in costume. Naturally a few photos were taken standing next to the latter! Did you know that the DJT dress has about 7 black petticoats (yes, I did get down on my knees to count!)? The chandelier frame is slightly bigger than London's one - enough for me to stand inside it! Also, the stage itself is lower than HMT's because from the second row you could see right to the back which meant I could see what the characters' feet (especially the dancers') were doing.

It was quite a comedown to get back to England and know that as a phan I would not be treated so well by everyone involved with the show (of course, there are some wonderful exceptions). At least I got to see the phantastic Garth the weekend after we returned!