On Saturday, April 21st at 3:30 a.m., forty-eight members of our LBW family gathered in the studio to begin an adventure. The bus arrived at 4:00 a.m. After boarding and settling in, we prepared for the five hour ride to New York City. There were lots of pillows, blankets and sleepy passengers all filled with anticipation and excitement.
We stopped briefly en route at the Maryland House rest stop, then continued along the way. The sun came up and before we knew it, we could see the famous skyline of “The Big Apple”. The bus brought us right in front of “The Pearle Studios” where the girls would take their dance master class. For two hours they sweated, stretched and concentrated. Their teacher, Jessica Bishop, a member of “The Phantom of the Opera” cast, warmed them up, taught them the choreography from “Masquerade” and shared many secrets of life as a dancer/singer living in NYC and working in a Broadway show. The girls were so happy to know that they learned the exact choreography that they would see in just a few hours on the stage of the Majestic Theater. They were also told when to watch for Jessica because she would be performing in the show as well.
Back on the bus we went and were taken to the Majestic Theater on 44th St. There was time to find lunch and do a little shopping before curtain time. We broke up into small groups and explored the excitement of Times Square. So much to see! So many people! Soon it was time to get in line to enter the theater. From our seats in the orchestra section, we had a perfect view of the stage and the performers. The show was truly awesome and inspiring! With the help of a relative of one of our students, we had the extreme good fortune to have a post-performance question and answer time.
The Stage Manager, two orchestra members, the make-up artist, two dancers, and “Madame Giry” responded to the questions of the group. To our delight, out on to the stage walked Hugh Panaro, the actor who played the role of “The Phantom”! We couldn’t believe it! There he was in his robe and slippers talking to us. Miss Alli asked to shake his hand. He obliged and she had stars in her eyes!
Our group gathered for photos outside the theater, then headed up Broadway to 51st St. We stopped for more photos and quick purchases of New York memorabilia along the way. We arrived at “Ellen’s Stardust Diner” for our dinner reservation and were escorted to our section of tables. “Ellen’s” is a unique, lively restaurant where all of the waiters and waitresses are aspiring or part-time Broadway performers. We had so much fun singing and dancing along with them.
Right on schedule, but sadly, our bus was waiting to bring us back home. We drove past the Theater District and Times Square one last time. Again we settled in. The blankets and pillows came out. A movie was placed into the DVD player. We waved good-bye to “The City That Never Sleeps” and soon did just that – we were exhausted! The bus arrived at the studio at 12:20 a.m.
LBW visits NYC III was a wonderful experience. All that went have so many treasured memories. We all agree that we cannot wait until next year!