My First Broadway Show: Phantom of the Opera Sparks a Lifetime Habit

By Adam Hetrick
21 Jan 2013

Sierra Boggess and Hugh Panaro play Christine and the Phantom for the 25th Anniversary Broadway performance
Photo by Joan Marcus

A lot has changed since my first visit to Phantom over 20 years ago. I went off to study theatre in college. I became a writer and now call New York City my home. I also have the distinct pleasure of seeing my own name printed in the Playbill you are now holding, which looks much like the one I first encountered at that August matinee two decades ago.

But the most significant change in my life is that our beloved theatregoing trio is now a duo — my dad and I said goodbye to my mom five years ago.

Since then, I've had the chance to give back to my dad, who on a Christmas in the early 1990s presented me with a two-tape recording of a new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical and introduced me to "The Music of the Night." My dad is now my frequent (and favorite) date to the theatre. For us, the theatre is a touchstone. It has given us a place where we can return to share joy, grief, music, magic, and, perhaps most importantly, a place to reconnect with resilience and hope.

On Father's Day in 2011, a little less than 20 years after our first visit to the Majestic together, I took my dad back to revisit Phantom. It was all still the same.

Instead of the mezzanine, we sat in the eighth row of the orchestra. When the chandelier crashed onto the stage, it swooped just above our heads. And this time, as those first notes of the orchestra bellowed through the theatre, it was my dad who grabbed my hand and grinned like a kid on Christmas.

Buy the 25th-anniversary limited-edition commemorative Phantom Playbill at

(Adam Hetrick is a staff writer for whose work also appears in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow him on twitter @PlaybillAdamH)