|It looked like this but was a more vibrant "royal" blue and had a lid that fit on top.|
I didn't know who this Andrew Lloyd Webber was until I popped the tape in, and when it began to play. The very first track was a song called The Phantom of the Opera by Sarah Brightman and Steve Harley, from the second I heard the organ play the famous chords, I knew I not only liked but LOVED this Andrew Lloyd Webber guy. Due to the fact that the cover was missing, I didn't know the songs were drawn from musicals. Yeah, I was a little dense but they songs were great and aside from one or two, I could have seen them played on the radio at one time or another.
After I left home, I ended up staying in Columbus, Georgia with a music major named Lee that happened to love musicals. I'm not sure where he is now but just a few years ago, he was the musical director of a major symphony orchestra. During the two weeks that I stayed with him, he taught me an appreciation for something other than pop music. He played the violin and wanted to show me one of the most difficult things he could play. If you own the Original London Cast Recording of The Phantom of the Opera, pop in disc two and track up to the graveyard violin before Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again.
This is not Lee, but this is what he played along to. Lee played this solo much better also.
After he played the recording, he played it on his violin, I was impressed and then asked him what else was on the tape. He popped in cassette one and started it from the beginning. From the time I heard "SOLD", I was entranced. Within the first two minutes I heard the familiar chords of the song I knew from the tape I'd bought at a flea market the previous year when The Overture erupted from the speakers. A few minutes later, the song played and man was I excited because I thought the song within the show, was even better than the flea market tape. I HAD to see this show and when I left Columbus for Atlanta, I "accidentally" took The Phantom of the Opera cassette tapes with me.
The day that I met Andrew Wilder, he asked what I'm doing in midtown, "Trying to get to New York" I said jokingly. He told me, "OK, I have a car. Let's Go!" Here's the kicker, we got into that white convertible Chrysler LeBaron and drove north and landed in New York within a couple of days. We were a little slow and several things happened on the way...those details will be in my book. When we got to New York City, I demanded that he drive to 44th Street because I wanted to see the Majestic Theatre up close and in person. I got out of the car and inspected every photo in front of the theater and saw no mention of Sarah, Michael or Steve. I saw photos of Karen Culliver, Mark Jacoby and Hugh Panaro. Who were THESE people and why were they there? A few days later I found out exactly who they were.
Karen Culliver, Mark Jacoby, Hugh Panaro & Karen Culliver
A few days later, I wanted to see the show again and realized I could get the student ticket prices for $15 and even though I wasn't a student, I told the person at the box office I forgot my student ID and they didn't seem to care as long as I had the cash. I was we rested for this show and as excited as before, then I noticed Karen Culliver was off that night and someone named LuAnn Aronson would be Christine. I was disappointed but thought I'd stay just to see the boat scene and leave. I didn't leave, LuAnn was just as amazing as Karen and I didn't fall asleep at all.
Since the day that I obtained the cassette of The Premiere Collection and my ill gotten copy of the Original London Cast, I have collected every officially released recording of the show and obtained most of the "promos" that were made for advertising also. Many people have asked how my obsession began and in short, it was all because of hearing the Sarah Brightman and Steve Harley single version of the title song but that was just the beginning. Incidentally, back in the time that I lived in New York, this was the only Broadway show that I preferred to see at night. There's something about the cover of night that made the show more magical than seeing it during a matinee performance, at least for me it did and still does. Maybe it's because the nigh time sharpens and heightens each sensation. ;-)