I first encountered music from The Phantom of the Opera when I was 9 years old. I had taken a lip syncing class, because the Leon County, FL gifted program in 1990-91 was awesome, and at the performance where the most effective lip syncers gave a performance, a boy lip synced “Music of the Night,” complete with tux, cape, mask, and hat. (I was not selected for this performance, because the teacher said my performance of “Material Girl” showed that I cared more about the look than about lip syncing well, and she wasn’t wrong.)

I was immediately in love - with the song, with the costume, in my imagination with the lip syncing boy (who had been in a different class from me and who I hadn’t met nor would ever meet).

My mom promptly added the original cast recording to her next Columbia House order.

And the whole show was much bigger than that one song, endearing itself to me more than “Music of the Night” ever could have to me alone.

I stayed obsessed with the Phantom of the Opera. I read Gaston Leroux’s original novel. I read Susan Kay’s Phantom (highly recommend). I read The Phantom of Manhattan (fun but I recommend it not as highly). I went to see it when it came to Raleigh on tour. (1993, I think.) I played the computer game, Return of the Phantom.

When I met W in 1998, our mutual love of Phantom of the Opera was one of the things we first bonded over. That October, I hosted a costumed sing-along of it at my house. He was the Phantom and I was Christine. We did the same thing the following year.

W and myself as the Phantom and Christine

We saw the show together when it came on tour. We saw it when they did a movie theater cast of the show in 2011.

Our son, M, has listened to the first act with me. We looked at The Complete Phantom of the Opera book together as we listened. He was very interested.

Next month, I hope to visit the Palais Garnier and see the places and things that I have only seen in pictures and my imagination so far: the grand staircase, the chandelier, box five.

The Phantom of the Opera has its last Broadway performance today. It’s been hugely important to me, even though I’ve never seen it there. I’m so glad it ran for so long. I know we haven’t seen the last of it in the US.