After 17 Years, Grandmother and Granddaughter Experience ‘Phantom’ One Last Time on Broadway

by Elysian Magazine

My experiences with “The Phantom of the Opera” have been nothing but spectacular.

Riley Johnson fell in love with ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ when she was 4 years old, and the musical still enriches her life today as an adult.

I grew up on the ballads of Andrew Lloyd Webber, and my first experience on Broadway was seeing Phantom. I still feel whimsical and ethereal when listening to the sounds of the compositions from Mr. Webber, as I grew up dancing in my bedroom and acting as if I was Christine. Her character represented someone so fearless and driven, and at an early age I decided that was going to be me.

“The Phantom of the Opera” is special to me because I grew up listening to the music since I was 4 years old. I had a certain fascination when hearing the music for the first time, sneaking a peek at the movie my mother was watching.

At the time I did not fully understand the concepts and plot of the movie, but I was drawn in by my love of the music. I formed a certain obsession with the songs “Angel of Music” and “Phantom of The Opera,” as that was all I would listen to on repeat. My family thought that was very unusual for a child of my age to be so in love with that operatic type of music.

When my grandmother decided to take me to my first Broadway performance in New York City at age 4, she didn’t choose “The Little Mermaid” or “The Lion King” – she chose “Phantom.”

I went to my first Broadway performance after discreetly lying about my age – you had to be 5 years old to attend a Broadway play. I can still remember hearing the first note of the orchestra, the live music, and watching the events unfold, after seeing and singing them a thousand times over. It was nothing but magical in my eyes, being able to immerse myself in the music and drama of the performance.

Linda Mallis is planning to take her granddaughter Riley to see Phantom on Broadway one final time.

Throughout the years, my love for “Phantom” has never expired. I still, to this day, find the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber so phenomenal and comforting. I went to Paris over the summer and while there visited an opera house, the one that “The Phantom of the Opera” is loosely based on. While my family was transfixed with the architecture and beauty of it, I was searching for Box Five. The legend is that the Phantom would haunt Box Five in the opera house; to appease the spirit, the box would remain empty during every performance. To say the least, it was a fangirl moment of mine, to find that door, which was unfortunately locked in respect to the Phantom.

I am now 21 years old, and my grandmother and I are about to attend “The Phantom of the Opera” again in New York City for the last time.

After 35 years, the curtains are coming down on “Phantom” on Broadway for the final time in February 2023. I am thrilled to see it once again in New York City after seventeen years. I am going to experience it all, once again, through my 4-year-old eyes, and now through my 21-year-old eyes, and I have no doubt the music will once again fill my soul.

I do feel despair because this is the end of an era. I always dreamed of one day taking my own children to “Phantom” on Broadway in New York City, to share my love of the arts and music with them. Perhaps a trip to London is in store someday to revisit the Phantom.


Riley Johnson is a senior psychology major at the University of North Texas.

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