Where? Her Majesty’s Theatre, Haymarket, London, SW1Y 4QL
What was on? Phantom of the Opera of course!
How? The theatre does not run regular backstage tours but I went as part of a Mastercard Priceless event
This was a very special tour for me. A child of the 80’s and avid musical theatre fan since birth, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s gothic romance Phantom of the Opera has always been very close to my heart. I remember going for my 6th birthday – the tickets booked several months in advance in those tricksy pre-digital days! – and loving every second of it. For the next few years, my little sister and I performed our celebrated ‘living-room’ version, singing along to the LP, sister in Mum’s wedding dress and me in a plastic mask and black cloak.
So I was pretty excited about this one and I wasn’t disappointed!
Her Majesty’s Theatre is a beautiful theatre erected by the famous Actor-Manager Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree in 1897 but there have been four theatres on the site since the early 18th century so it had a long, proud history before Phantom arrived. It was much smaller backstage than I expected with older stage machinery. Instead of lots of hydraulics with just a few people, there is a big team working back there and it looks like the lovely old-fashioned picture of a theatre backstage you have in your imagination (or in mine, anyway!) There’s not much storage space either so a lot is kept in the flies, and it’s great fun to see some of those iconic props and pieces of set like the candles, the boat and find out how they all work (I won’t give away any secrets but all much more manual than I had in mind!) We even had a chance to stand on the stage which as well as being a really magical moment is a nice way to feel how everything fits together and appreciate how things (and people!) find their way on and off.
Because this was a Mastercard event (thanks, little sister!) we capped off the tour with champagne and the show that evening, and a Q&A with members of the cast, including one fabulous gentleman who had been with the show over 20 years!
Verdict: I thought I was too jaded and experienced to fall for the backstage magic anymore. I WAS SO WRONG! If you ever get a chance to tour this lovely theatre, don’t miss it!
For more information visit the Backstage Theatre Tours website
Photo by MrsEllacott (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons