Truly I felt honoured.
To be given a second chance to play the Phantom was not something I thought I’d ever be able to do. Yet here I was on my way to meet Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, Joel and the cast…
I had forgotten how hot New York can be in the summer. Sweat built gradually as I made my way to the infamous ‘Coney Island.’
In all my years being here I had never made it to this side of the state, only to be disappointed that I hadn’t until now. The sea breeze was calming-familiar. It reminded me of back home and I suddenly felt a pang in my chest as I thought of my Mum and my siblings. Maybe I should call?
I took out my phone only to unlock it and stare at the screen second guessing my idea, soon stowing it back into my pocket.
Coney was in a run-down state of which was slightly depressing to me. Once in its hay day it was the fourth wonder of the world, one in which I was supposed to embody!
How could I after seeing it in this state? Windows shattered, buildings boarded up only to deface them even more with people’s indecent graffiti.
If I were this Phantom- what a disgrace I would have been in to see it as it is now.
Webber had done a marvellous job on the script, of course that was not surprising. Loosely I had followed the new show after seeing its primer last year in London. Had it already been a year?
I shook the thought away and continued down the board walk where I saw Joel off in the distance, waving. What an experience the last movie had been.
Was I truly prepared to put myself through that torture again? I had no choice, my decision had been made but how it had broken my soul to become that man. Now more sorrow was imposed on him- he just could not catch a break!
“Joel” I said as we shook hands and greeted with a smile.
“Gerry nice to see you again! Welcome- everyone is already here” he explained, nodding to the building.
Everyone? Damn…was I late? Looking at my phone briefly I saw it was only noon, I was right on time. I followed him into a nearby hotel, talking of nothing important.
“I saw you in that movie, Three-Hundred” he said, “You were great!”
“Thank you” I smiled. I hated small talk.
And I hated it when the only movie people could bring up around me was 300. Did my work before it just cease to exist?
Obviously not as I was reprising a role I had done several years before it.
The air conditioning was a relief; it had to be in the nineties at least. Why in the hell I had decided to wear jeans was beyond me, my shirt clung desperately and I felt disgusting. This was how I was going to see Mr. Webber? Patrick? Emmy…My heart picked up speed and I silently cursed myself for being so pathetic.
Damn you Gerry she’s too young! You are not going down this road again! Get a hold of yourself! Before I could she bounded from a room we had been approaching and wrapped her arms around me. Shit.
She smelled wonderful and I couldn’t help but wrap my arms around her as well. She pulled back and grinned with those perfect teeth of hers, and her beautifully fresh-youthful face.
“Gerry it’s so good to see you again!” she gushed.
I couldn’t help but smile back, she was no longer that young woman I worked with so many years ago, she was an adult- a woman by all means of the word.
I quickly glanced over her slim figure, held by a short skirt and an attractively fitting shirt. I had to look away before my mind began to travel to things best left for another more, private, time.
Patrick came out and shook my hand firmly; I noted that he was aging nicely even though he was younger than myself. I frowned slightly at the thought, knowing I was the eldest of the three.
We made our way into a large conference room that overlooked the sea. There sat Mr. Webber, Miranda and Jennifer. We all greeted like old friends but I felt intimidated by the presence of Andrew being there. It was beyond me how anyone could work in his presence continually.
“Gerard it is nice to see you again” said Andrew as he shook my hand, I was taken aback by his formality but shrugged it off.
“Thank you Sir, for asking me to do this” I said, I really could not convey my gratitude enough, “The script is…flawless” I smiled.
Andrew nodded in appreciation and looked to Joel, “Shall we?” he asked pointedly.
We all sat in a circle with scripts in hand, “Now you will note that there are other minor characters new to the story” Joel began, “Three comrades of the Phantom’s who are his sort of right hand persona. Fleck, Gangle and Squelch. They however are not here today because Andrew and I wanted to test the waters with you five first” he explained, “Seeing as Love Never Dies is much different to The Phantom, I wanted to see that you could all grasp the differences in your characters”
Andrew flipped open the script, “It has been ten years since Christine and Raoul left the Phantom” he began, “Now the ending was open to interpretation but we find out that Madame Giry and Meg have taken the Phantom and fled to Coney Island-for fear of the guards that were looking for him” Andrew stood to express more clearly.
“You see the night before they fled Paris, Christine came back to the Phantom, not knowing why but she knew she had to see him. This is what is explained during Beneath A Moonless Sky. They truly share a night of passion and as the Phantom explains, he leaves afraid that when she awoke, she would leave in disgust” he said, waving the script in his hand slightly as he began pacing, “Our dear Phantom could not stand rejection once again from Christine so he fled. And she wakes up to find him gone when she had been ready to claim her love for him” he said, “Nonetheless she returns to Raoul but not knowing that she was indeed impregnated with the Phantom’s child-Gustave” he said simply.
I sat back in the chair already knowing what was going on after seeing the show previously but it gave me time to think, to understand more about the character. All of his pain and yearning as well as his reasoning for leaving Christine.
However flawed that reason was, it had been done and I had to understand that.
“Now after we have revised this show, I don’t know how many times” he said, waving the script around boisterously, “Joel and I have agreed that we start the show with the Phantom” said Andrew turning to look at me. I nodded slightly in response.
“I know we spoke very little about this but knowing you have seen the London show I trust you understand quite a bit” he said.
I was about to respond but my words were caught within my throat as the doors opened to reveal a small girl with brown tussles of hair falling down past her shoulder and dazzling green eyes.
We locked eyes for a mere moment before she looked away shyly at the ground and strode over to Andrew’s side. She held papers within her small hands and seemed very composed.
“Ah Lucy” said Andrew with easily familiarity, “Everyone this is Lucy, she is from Australia and has helped make Love Never Dies into what it is today” he said, an odd note of approval crept into his voice, “She will be helping out as well with this. She was the one who also suggested that we rehearse a bit before filming which Joel and I completely agree with” he explained, smiling at her encouragingly.
She was timid but beautiful. But also entirely too young.
I doubted that whatever she did would have much impact on the film, no way would they trust something of any real importance to someone so young.
I ran a hand through my hair that was getting a bit too long. I would have to get it cut again, I should have before today…For a few minutes I was lost in thought when I was brought out hearing my name, “Gerry we will start today if you do not mind”
I looked up at Andrew not realizing what he had said and he took my confusion as understanding. Everyone got up from their seat and filed out of the room leaving Andrew, Lucy and me. My nerves were on fire, sending my heart racing once again.
Emmy sent me a quick smile and a wave before she too disappeared from the room.
That was not helping my thought clarity.
Lucy sat at a piano off in the corner and I stood to follow. Andrew placed out the score for me as I thanked lucky stars that I had taken more singing lessons before this.
I felt nervous, more than I had in years. I needed to get my head around what I was about to do, but all I could think about was Emmy and her brilliant smile. I took a deep breath and stood up straight.
Lucy started the Overture to the show, giving me time to get into the right state of mind. I thought of his pain…his struggle and want to be loved. I thought of his loss and yearning but also of his pure passion and need for his Christine.
My thought’s immediately went back to Emmy, and how I had felt about her all those years ago. And how, because of her age, she couldn’t be mine.
My heart broke suddenly as each emotion flooded in and I began to sing.
There was something about Gerard that I always liked for this role.
Whether it was a look in his eye piercing blue-green eyes, or the unrefined and raw quality he brought to the role that I hadn’t seen before, or since, I wasn’t sure.
What I was certain of however, was that he was putting more emotion into what he was singing now than I had ever heard.
“Ten long years” he sung deeply, “living a mere facade of life” he spat the last word venomously.
The impulse to smile tugged at my lips, but I kept my face blank, betraying no emotion to what I thought of his singing while he sung.
Soon, the last notes were echoing around the room, “…once more”
He held the note for as long as he could, with what I could see was a great effort, a vein in the side of his neck bulged slightly from the exertion.
Lucy played the last notes on the piano and with that, his voice slowly died away.
He stood panting slightly and red face. I knew why of course.
The first and what I suspected was the most prominent reason was that I made him nervous. I had ever since the first time I met him. And whilst filming the first movie, we had come to some material understanding where we were able to work with one another; all of that trust seemed to have evaporated over the years.
The second reason I suspected was that he not only feared my reaction, but the Phantom Fans.
In making the first one, he had gotten a lot of negative reviews and fan back-lash about his voice; this was obviously something he was trying to improve on.
My thoughts exactly.
“Well” I sighed turning to Lucy with a secretive smile, she turned around in her chair to face me, placing her hands in her lap, “What do you think my dear?” I asked.
She smiled just as secretly at me, before she raised her hand and tipped it to side to side, making a face. I laughed at her expression before I turned to Gerard who had a mixture of fear and uncertainty on his face; I approached him and clapped his shoulder, “Wonderful” I said, “The role is still yours” I said, feeling the need to clarify as his nervous composure did not seem to lessen.
“Thank you sir” he said breathlessly, nodding his head in gratitude.
I smiled “Your welcome” I said clasping his back once more, “Now, you do still need some work to get your voice up to par again” I said seriously, “So I want you to train with Lucy, every day for at least an hour” I said firmly.
In the movie making process, Love Never Dies was still in the early stages. There was pre-recordings, rehearsal, dance rehearsal, rehearsals in the set… then there was the filming itself, then all the post production recording and editing.
So I had no doubt that by the time it came to pre-recording, filming, and then recording, that he would once again be ready to take on the musical challenges of the Phantom.
To my surprise though, he looked worried.
“With all due respect” he said seeming to choose his words carefully, “are you certain she is up to it?” he asked glancing at Lucy before turning back to me seriously.
I couldn’t help but chuckle at the absurdity of his words, “My dear boy” I said as I walked over to her with a smile, “This is my prodigy” I said placing my hands down on the tops of her shoulders, her head was bent as she gathered up the papers of the score and arranged them.
Giving her shoulders a gentle squeeze to ease any discomfort she may have felt over Gerard’s questioning on her abilities, I walked back over to him, “At twenty-one she can play almost every instrument in an orchestra, she has composed numerous pieces by herself and with me, most of which have won awards” I reeled off simply. I felt the need to clarify to him just who he was underestimating as my fatherly affection over her, won out for my professional liking for him, “So the question is not whether she’s up to it,” I said seriously, “but whether you are”
He sighed, running a frustrated hand through his hair; he seemed to realize what a fool he had made himself appear in my eyes and instantly tried to rectify it.
He turned to look at Lucy, “I guess we’ll be spending a lot of time together” he said simply.
She smiled back half-heartedly for a moment before she looked back down at the scores.
Gerard turned back to me and I realized I had missed a crucial point, “Oh, she doesn’t speak” I added simply.
I watched as shock and disbelief cross his face, but he knew better than to question me again.