I saw her first.
I don’t know if that makes me special, or if she meant more to me than the others. But I was the first to pick her out of the crowd, to see what made her so different from everyone else.
I always enjoyed the Matinee Performances. The crowd tended to vary a little during the day, but it was always the same stuffed shirts out to impress someone at the night time performance.
Being in New York and performing on Broadway was a dream come true! I still had to pinch myself when I thought about the fact that me! Forty-Year-Old-Sharon Millerchip for Australia had beat out Young-Twenty-Year-Olds from America for the part of Meg in Love Never Dies.
Having performed the role in Australia for a year, everything on stage was second nature to me.
Rebecca and I were halfway through the scene after I had just performed “Only For You” I was sitting on top of the costumes box with my prop Newspaper while Rebecca sung.
I carefully pulled the pins out of my hair, careful not to dislodge the blond wig I had on, before I looked out into the crowd dreamily as the scene called for.
While I couldn’t see much of the audience anyway, it didn’t help that the majority of them were all dressed in black. Why was that? Winter was miserable enough without everyone have to walk around as if they were going to a funeral all the time.
I may have spotted a red scarf a few rows back, but a massive splash of colour caught my eye.
On the end of the middle second of front row seat sat three girls, maybe in their early twenties or late teens, I wasn’t the best judge of age, wearing brightly coloured dresses.
The first one, in the aisle seat, was wearing a gold dress, the next one a purple and the last one an emerald green.
The other two were focused on Rebecca as she sung, but the one in the purple turned and looked at me. There was a moment, where she didn’t seem sure if I was actually looking at her, before a smile, a truly happy and excited smile lit up her face.
It was contagious. To see someone that happy and she was happy, it was so obvious the way the light seem to make her cheeks glow, that I couldn’t help but smile back.
I knew my cue was coming and that it was wrong to break out of character but I let a small smile grace my lips, only for a moment, which made her only smile bigger before I closed myself off to the audience and went back to acting the part.
After singing my monologue I closed my eyes and skipped off, catching the towel thrown at me I went back stage and immediately spotted Rebecca heading to the green room with a cup of coffee.
“Hey” I said jogging after her, my heels tapped against the floor as I wrapped the towel around my neck, removing some of the sweat I had developed from my dance number and heat of the stage lights.
“Hello” she smiled; scratching her black wig she took a sip of her coffee that I could see was still emitting steam through the small hole in the top of the foam cup.
“Did you see the girl in the front row?” I asked, curious to see if I was the only one who had noticed her.
“No, was I supposed to?” she asked with a frown.
I smiled in spite of myself, thinking back to her happy smile made me smile, “she’s such a little cutie! And so happy”
Rebecca shrugged. She had been performing for at least ten more years than I had, so maybe she didn’t pick up on those things anymore.
I would hate for anyone, let alone myself to ever lose the ability to be humbled by seeing someone so happy and awed by your performance.
I’d been doing this show for a long time. And there were always crowds. Always Fans. Always people so dedicated and involved in the story of the Phantom and Christine.
But she was different. The music lit up her face in a way only happiness could.
No one had to point her out to me, I spotted her myself. She stood out to a person who was so used to looking at crowds.
After doing this show for three years, the thrill of being on stage and performing had worn off. That was never to say I let my performance slide or slip. Or that I didn’t enjoy my job because I do! I love my job.
But in times like this, when someone else was singing, I tended to space out.
Ramin was a fantastic singer. And I enjoyed listening to his voice, but that didn’t stop my mind from wandering.
Looking out into the black of the audience as Ramin began to sing the second half of Once Upon Another Time, I let my gaze wander out into the crowd.
The glare of the stage lights prevented me from staring far. But I was able to see at least to the third row, but it was a group of girls or one girl specifically in the front row that caught my attention.
The first one, on the aisle seat had dirty blond hair that fell down past her shoulders and had been curled slightly at the end.
The one furthest from the isle had short red hair in a classic bob, with a complimenting straight fringe.
But it was the girl in the middle that caught my attention.
Her Hair. That was the first thing I saw. It was dark, probably a dark brown but appeared slightly black in the theatre lights.
The top half of it had been pulled back, causing her to have a stylish hair bump on the top of her head before the rest came down at her shoulders in wavy ringlets.
She had beautiful hair. It was Christine hair. Unlike me who had to wear a wig, she achieved that look naturally.
Then I noticed her lips moving and it took me moment to realize she was singing along.
Well that wasn’t new. A lot of people knew the songs. Love Never Dies was the sequel to Phantom of the Opera, if the songs were even a half as popular as the first one, the majority of the English speaking world would still know them.
No, it was the look on her face that made her stand out.
She looked happy. A happiness that seemed to radiate off her.
She looked as though she wanted to be on the stage. That wasn’t uncommon, most of them looked as if they wanted to push me off the stage and be up there themselves.
She didn’t. She merely looked as if she wanted to be up there.
I stared at her for only a moment before I was called upon to act and sing again. After that there was not another opportunity as I had to duck back stage and change for the next scene Dear Old Friends.
Ducking backstage layers were ripped off and replaced on me in the dark.
After the costume change I waited until my cue before I went out on stage.
I didn’t have an opportunity to glance at her again before I had to duck off stage and chase after the missing ‘Gustave’ with Sharon.
Once I was off I sighed, fluffing my costume for a moment I listened as Emma, Paul and Dean, the Coney Island Trio, sung their introduction song as they lead Tyler into ‘The Phantoms Lair’ and Ramin began to sing.
Satisfied my costume was hanging right I glanced through a gap in back stage curtaining.
I could see Ramin enter from the opposite side of the stage and begin singing. Smiling I switched my view to the audience.
I could barely make-out the first row in the audience, but I could see her. Eyes shining she continued to mouth the words to the song.
“What are you looking at?” asked Austin curiously, his blond hair had been slicked back so much it shone under the small amount of light that filtered through from the stage to the backstage wings.
“Girl in the front row” I smiled, he raised an eyebrow at me perplexed, “she’s singing along” I explained.
“The one in the purple?” asked Sharon, appearing out of the dark as she took a swing from her drink-bottle that was decorated with the Australian Flag.
I frowned, “yeah, how’d you know?”
“I saw her too” she smiled.
My assumption that I had been the only one to notice her must have been wrong.
Something was shared between us then. Did she notice her for the same reason I did? The fact that she seemed to shine with absolute happiness as she watched us perform.
The way she smiled told me she did, “she’s pretty”
“Pretty? Where? Point her out!” demanded Austin immediately going to the small peep provided in the curtaining gap.
“Front row, purple dress” I said absently as I turned to Sharon and smiled.
When I had first met her, I was worried. She was from Australia and eleven years older than me. How would we be able to portray the sisterly bond between Meg and Christine when we were so different?
But the first day of rehearsal’s Sharon had come to me and said “I really want the relationship between Meg and Christine to be real. It’s such an important part of the show and I really don’t want to stuff it up”
From that I immediately respected her. We had gotten to know each other and a true friendship had formed. But now I was reminded just how much I liked her.
“I think the blond is prettier” said Austin simply before he turned on his heel and headed to the Green Room.
Both Sharon and I rolled our eyes and smiled at each-other.
“Ladies! You’re on” called Bonnie, our stage manager.
I blinked in shock, had Ramin and Tyler really sung almost all of Beauty Underneath?
“You’ll embrace it?” sung Ramin.
Tyler answered, “Yes!”
“You’ll accept it?”
Hitched up my skirt I stepped onto the stage, Sharon right behind me.
By their own accord my eyes found the girl, I wanted to see her reaction to Ramin’s big ‘reveal’ or the Phantom taking off his mask and exposing his deformity.
“Let me show you the beauty under-” Ramin sung, ripping off his mask.
I watched in amusement as the girl gasped and put her hand over her mouth before she smiled at her own foolishness, all in the same moment.
After than Tyler screamed and began running around the stage meaning I immediately had to focus.
I’d done many shows in my time. Met many fans. Dated many girls.
But from the start she was different.
Never had I been a romantic. Never believed in love at first site. Still don’t.
But there was just something about her that seemed… special. It seemed right. Whether it was that tangible happiness that seemed to radiate off her or that hypnotizing stare, I didn’t know.
I’d never seen it before or since her.
But one thing was for sure- the moment I laid eyes on her I was captivated.
It never wore off. Never.
The high, the thrill. The absolute magic I felt every time I played this character.
Every time I stepped out onto the stage I really gave it my all, so it was nice, when hiding behind the mirror, before the audience could see me to have a quick breather.
To re-gather myself as a romantic lover that the next scene in the dressing room called for after the intense testosterone and violence filled last scene of Devil Take the Hindmost.
Taking a deep breath I closed my eyes, trying to find a certain calm that for some reason seemed to evade me this time.
My lips twitched and I opened my eyes, perhaps watching the scene in front of me would help.
I watched as Austin kneeled down by Sierra. Raoul’s last attempt to get Christine to choose him- to not sing.
While both Austin and Sierra were terrific actors I wasn’t seeing them for long, movement in the audience caught my eye.
The first row and part of the second row directly in front of the stage was the only part of the audience that I could see.
A girl in the front row was craning her neck to the side attempting to get a better look at Austin and Sierra. I assumed from the angel she was on that she couldn’t see them.
While her movement was what caught my eye, it was her face that made me stay there.
She had beautiful pale olive skin that seemed to shine. Thick chocolate curls framed her face perfectly. Luscious pink-mocha coloured lips with the bottom a little too full to match the top that even from a distance looked deliciously soft…
But her eyes were what captured me.
Her right eye was a deep blue of the ocean on a cloudy day. And her left was a beautiful warm dark brown of walnut. Both her eyes seemed to absolutely sparkle with happiness.
It was a colossal tribute to her face that I managed to tear my eyes away it to rake my eyes over her body.
The purple dress she wore created little cleavage but enough to guess that she would have decent breast before the purple material curved in. Hugging her midriff tightly before it came out again, showing ample curvature in her hips before the rest of the purple material fell delicately in her lap.
Her legs were hidden from view. I wondered what they would look like…
Shaking the thought away I permitted myself one more stare, watching as her face softened slightly as Sierra and Austin kissed delicately and I stepped into the light of the mirror.
Focusing myself, I pulled back into character, but I wasn’t seeing the brown eyes of Christine for long. One of them was now blue.