The original French thriller on which Andrew Lloyd Webber based his musical opens on a performance of Faust. Its star, Carlotta, sings the role of Margarita, and enraptures her adoring public until suddenly ‘HARRUCKKK’: a toad’s croak emerges from her mouth like a monumental belch. ‘It’s the ghost,’ mutters one of the managers resentfully. The prima donna flees the stage and is replaced by the lovely Christine, who sings as never before. In a box sits Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny; at once he is smitten by Christine and begins a fateful courtship, despite overhearing the ghost’s beautiful voice say: ‘Christine, you must love me,’ and her reply: ‘I sing only for you.’ Box 5 is the ghost’s private box, never to be used by another. In rebellion, the managers decide to occupy the box, one shouting to the other: ‘I’m sick of him! SICK OF HIM!’, whereupon a colossal chandelier crashes onto the audience. Christine makes a tragic mistake: she snatches off the ghost’s mask and discovers a hideous man, Erik. He kidnaps her, and Raoul’s search of the Paris Opera House’s underground world commences. The magnificent readers make the story spectacularly exciting.
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