I looked up at the Royal Albert Hall as my taxi came to a stop out front. I was at least four hours early and I hardly paid attention to the gruff voice of the driver as I grabbed my backpack and jumped out, paying him on the way. I couldn't believe it! My dream was coming true. I was finally able to see the play version of The Phantom of the Opera and I was going to be able to meet my operatic hero Sarah Brightman. If this wasn't a 'going into surgery present' I couldn't be happier.
I thought of the heart surgery I was going to have in a month and the laughter seemed to bleed out of me. There was no certainty that I'd survive and my brothers decided to ask me what I wanted most in the world to do and I said I wanted to see the 25th Anniversary of The Phantom of the Opera. I don't know how, but they got me in to meet the actors and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Sarah Brightman was really a bonus, they said the day I was going she was going to appear in a rendition of the title song and I could meet her after the show. I had come four hours early so I could watch the makeup process for Ramin.
I looked down at the blue chiton style dress I was wearing and the black jacket I wore over it. I had spent weeks planning this outfit. Long blue dress, black jacket, silver jewelry and blue close toed satin pin heels. I adjusted the silver belt and black stockings, pulling up the garter belt. I always wore stockings instead of tights so I could conceal the flask in the strap under my dress. I smiled when my hand knocked against it. A few sips a day and I can manage the pain that my heart caused me. Being heart sick sucks balls.
I shook myself as memories of the past tried to get me. No time to think of that crap now. I walked in to the entrance hall and my voice caught in my throat. It was beautiful; old building beautiful. It had the class of Notre Dame and made me think of the Opera Populaire in the movie Phantom of the Opera. I asked a passing stage hand how to get backstage.
"You just have to go through that door and down a hall, then turn left." I thanked him and walked over where he pointed me. I opened the door and walked down a seemingly endless hall, a door jumped out at me from the dim light. I stopped and stared at it. I could feel my heart speed up and my knees weaken. I was about to meet Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess and whoever else was backstage. I felt like a coin in a tin box, I was rattling so hard. Oh my God, I'm scared. I wanted them to like me so I made a quick mental check list of what not to do.
No dirty jokes or Chuck Norris jokes, well, maybe Chuck jokes are okay. No swearing; that would be hard, I thought, I swear as much as any normal teen; every other sentence. Okay, I'm ready. I opened the doors and walked into a circular hallway. I was still feeling nervous as hell about meeting the cast to my favorite story. I heard voices coming from an open door and walked over to see who it was.
"...I mean I can't believe that we're finally going to perform this, it seems like only yesterday the calls were going out to cast." I knocked on the door and everyone turned to face me. Fuck. I could feel the smile I always wore when I was embarrassed slide onto my face. I'm so glad I'm too dark to blush, now if only I could do something about this dopey grin...
"Hi, I'm Danielle BellRose. I'm the person who's going to be shadowing around backstage for a while and um I can't wait to see the prosthetics process for the Phantom." They looked at each other in surprise. Shit I felt awkward. Sierra came up to me with a smile on her face and held out her hand.
"Hi, my name's Sierra and I'm going to be playing Christine in the show today, it's really nice to meet you." I felt the coil in my stomach ease as she introduced everyone. "This is Liz, she's going to be our Madame Giry." I smiled at her and shook her hand.
"Nice to meet you. It must be fun to play madame Giry, she's such an authoritative character to portray." She grinned at me, seeing that I took characters seriously.
"Yes, I always love how all I have to do is bang the cane against the ground and all the little ballerinas fall into line, it makes me feel all powerful." She laughed like an evil queen for a second but quickly broke into a fit of actual laughter as I cracked up.
"I'm Hadley Fraser and I'm Raoul." I shook his hand.
"How does it feel to know everyone in the audience thinks you're a drunken fop?" Did I really just say that? Shit. Shit. Shit.
"Not good. I mean, Raoul is only trying to help the girl he loves because he wants to spend the rest of his life with her." He laughed and I felt compelled to try and smooth things out.
"I think Raoul's a good character. In the book, after Christine leaves him, the Phantom dies, since Leroux wrote that I don't really think Raoul turned into a drunk or that Christine would have some spontaneous change of heart and done the horizontal monster mash with the Phantom while she had Raoul. Especially because of the ending of the movie where you saw Christine's grave and Raoul was there giving her the music box. I like to think they had long happy lives together." God dammit, I was rambling.
"So what did you think of Love Never Dies then?" A voice came from behind me. I turned around to see Ramin Karimloo standing right behind me.
"There is no way to find fault with the music, it's just the story that needs to be crushed like a giant spider. Webber outdid so many playwrights when he created Phantom of the Opera and it could stand alone without any crutches. It's like Shock Treatment and Rocky Horror; it's so perfect it's an insult to try and add more." Ramin smiled, I could see his shoulders move as he held in laughs. A horrible thought came to mind. "PLEASE don't tell Andrew Webber I said this!"
Ramin outright laughed then. They all did. I could feel shame and embarrassment burning in my heart. "We won't tell, we kind of feel the same. Why make a sequel when that's the end of the book? It was fun to put on but still." He shook his head. Relief washed over me. I was so glad they weren't laughing at me. A lady in black cloths came into the room and told Ramin he needed to get in the chair. He told her he would be there in a minute.
"Can I watch the makeup process?" I asked bouncing up and down so you could hear the things in my backpack jiggling.
"Sure." We walked out of the room and I waved goodbye to the others, knowing I'd be back in a while. "What's in that? It sounds like you're carrying a house in there." He pointed to my back pack.
"Everything I need encase I get lost. A lot of spare clothes, my makeup, a book, my camera, a map of London, my toiletries, extra money and medicine." I think I had two pairs of jeans, a dress, three pairs of socks, I couple pairs of underwear and bras.
"All of that? Isn't that a little paranoid?" He sat in the chair and waited for the lady to start.
"No, this is my first time traveling alone and I want to be prepared." I sat watching the lady work on Ramin's face for a while, I was in awe of how she could make someone look so different with makeup. "Oh my God, just thought of something!" The makeup lady cast me a quick glance and went back to work while Ramin looked at me expectantly. "Your name's Ramin, like the noodles! Ha!" I laughed hard at my own poor joke. Ramin rolled his eyes. "That's what I'm going to call you forever now, Noodles."
"Nice, I'll have to come up with something ridiculous to call you too now." He grinned maliciously as he could while being prodded with makeup.
"Have fun with that, I'm going to go look around the stage." I slung my pack over my shoulder and walked out. I found the stage easily. No one was on it, and I couldn't believe my luck. I walked out to centre stage and took a deep breath, Imagining I was in the Opera Populaire and I was performing for the Phantom himself. Erik.
"Tanto tempo fa,
Un uccello fatale di nome,
Incrociò in volo la freccia di un,
Lungo le coste di lava,
Per anni, pensando di essere,
Scappò dalla freccia,
Perché non affronti il pericolo?
La freccia era legata all'ala,
E lei volva per liberarsene,
Tirando la freccia,
Altri son ferriti per mia colpa,
Giú! Verso la bocca del diavolo!
La sua freccia, I miei occhi.
Chromaggia, come take these eyes... !
I would rather be blind!"
I covered my eyes at the end of the song. I knew I had struck every note right; I was happy that I always improved with my music lessons every time I went. I always wanted to sing like Sarah Brightman and when I thought of meeting my idol and hero Sarah, I hope I don't start to cry when that happens. The sound of clapping brought me back from my daydreams.
"Brava, brava, bravissima." I looked up and around but found no one.
"Hello? Is someone there?" I was embarrassed at the fact that someone heard me sing.
"I am here," said a beautiful velvet voice. I still saw no one.
"Who are you?" I said.
"I am the Angel of Music, I have heard you sing and I am quite impressed. I would love to help you further develop your voice." I was in shock. Angel of Music?
"Very funny Ramin but I'm not falling for that." I knew he was trying to get back at me for the Noodles thing.
"I know not of who you speak, I am the Angel that watches over the singers with true talent and you have it." The voice said simply.
"Well thank you but I just don't see..." I stopped, hearing something so out of place I almost jumped when I identified it. "Why do I hear horses? And carts?"
"That's the standard way of getting to where people need to go." The voice sounded confused.
"Okay, I'm not buying that. Who rides horses and carts while we have cars in 2011 besides the Amish?" Dread was building inside of me.
"What are you talking about? It's 1871."
"No. No way am I believing you." I walked out of the theater as panic built in me. Everything was different. There were gold buttresses and a grand marble staircase. I didn't give up hope that it was an elaborate joke until I flung open the door. There were horses and people dressed in old fashioned clothes everywhere. I closed the door, shock stiffening my limbs.
"Are you quite alright?" My jaw moved as I tried to form words but my voice wouldn't work. The world tilted and I knew I was going to pass out. Suddenly a black clad figure was behind me and picked me up bridal style. The last thing I saw was a white porcelain mask.
OKAY I want to thank you for reading this story, who knows what'll happen to Danielle next ;)
Characters belong to Leroux and Webber, Actors belong to themselves and Danielle belongs to me.
The song belongs to the creators of Reop! The Genetic Opera.