Way back in 1989 my girlfriend and I worked for Cineplex Odeon, then headed up by now convicted felon Garth Drabinsky (currently doing 7 years for ripping off about half a billion bucks with the same company that put on Phantom, muhahahahaha). We got access to some early ticket sales and booked a trip to Toronto to see it at the newly restored Pantages theatre, with about 12 friends.
Not knowing anything about Toronto, I called up my uncle to ask about hotels. At the time, he was big into real estate and told me cheerfully,
"You can stay at my company condo beside Skydome. "
Gee.. OKAY! Twist my arm. I got back to my buddies and said "I'm gonna make my own way there guys". Last I heard, they were getting a school bus from someone and were all going to head down that way (sounds like fun, too bad we're gonna miss that! Muhahahahaha)
So we arrive at my uncle's place outside Toronto, the one with the indoor movie theatre and all that fun stuff (my girlfriend/wife was suitably impressed), spent the night there and headed over into the city to the condo the next day. It was right on the water this place, Harbourfront-something, near the base of Young street. We nosed my wife's Nissan Pulsar between a Porsche and a Beamer in the underground Hotel parking and were good to go! So THIS is what the rich people are doing!
The first night I sat and watched Skydome open. It took awhile but was very cool. This was a 3 room condo, big roman bath, great view over the water on one side, CN Tower and Skydome on the other. We had scored big on this favour! All we had to do was pay the cleaning lady at the end of our stay. The place had this magic key that gave you access to the building, the tennis courts, the jacuzzi and swimming pools. It even had some indoor walkway to some underground shops across the street. You didn't have to go outside if you didn't want to. Reclusive shut-in paradise it was.
My uncle was a movie-aholic so he had VHS tapes galore (remember those?). I remember watching Friday the 13th that weekend and saw the show COPS for the first time (we didn't get that in Ottawa).
So a few nights later, we hit the Pantages in our monkey suits, and met up with our Friends. They were complaining about the fleabag motel they ended up at, with cockroaches and hookers turning tricks next door and paper-thin walls, etc. The bus-ride down was uncomfortable etc. How was our place?
"Why it's kinda the same thing, pretty crappy, lets go get our seats!" No way was I going to tell them that it was some fricken 5 star hotel and that they paid some top hat-wearing guy who looked like he should be in a circus ring to open the door for us once we flashed him "The Key".
The show was excellent. Along with the Toronto production of "Tommy", Phantom was the best play I'd ever seen. Colm Wilkenson was doing the Phantom. He rocked!
After the show we ditched our friends lest they come back to our place and expose our lie(grin) - Some friends we were! Let's order room service! Muhahahahahaha. At the time, I had the foresight to say:
"Remember this place, because it probably isn't ever gonna happen again."
So tonight my 9 year old brought home a Phantom of the Opera grade 4 chapter book and she's read it all 4 times over. I dug out the DVD we have of a film version starring Gerard Butler of all people (THIS IS SPARTA!!!! not a bad voice on the guy) and we've watched the first half. I dug out our old play program from 20 years ago (my 5 year old is looking at the pictures), every one's humming the theme and now I have to go dig up the CD I have of it and find that Phantom mask I bought my wife for Christmas the same year.
Ahh memories. The next time I run into someone who went on that trip I'll have to tell them about the fabulous place we stayed at. I think I went down the elevator with Mookie Wilson (I wasn't into baseball at the time)!
I hear they're making a Phantom II in March 2010. Look out!