The only musical I’ve ever went to see was not the Phantom of the Opera. When I took this picture in November 1992, I only did so for two reasons: it was round the block from our hotel and we walked past it on the way to Times Square, and secondly it was for my best friend, as she was the biggest fan of this particular musical.

245 W 44th St, New York 1992
245 W 44th St, New York 1992

Wikipedia says “it is the longest running show in Broadway history by a wide margin, and celebrated its 10,000th Broadway performance on 11 February 2012, the first production ever to do so. It is the second longest-running West End musical, after Les Misérables, and the third longest-running West End show overall, after The Mousetrap“.

Back at home when I showed my friend this photo she was not impressed at all. Maybe because it is not your typical touristy image you’d put on a postcard. It’s black and white and drab looking and apart from the mask of the phantom she could not establish a connection to the image whatsoever – it left her cold and indifferent and me feeling that I had failed miserably. The iconic mask too tiny, parts cut off, just a meaningless building somewhere across a great big ocean. My friend really didn’t like the picture.

Then v Now

Looking at the photograph as a grown up and with fresh eyes I’ve come to really like the picture and am not seeing it as a (complete) failure. Yes it had failed at the one thing I wanted it to do (be liked by my dear friend), but maybe I hadn’t tried enough. Or maybe I captured the scene as I saw it: despite the sun up high it looks dark and gloomy, people facing away from the camera all moving to the same location. No colors, no drama, no velvet, no singing. Just another street and a Fed Ex van.

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