A few days later at the Orchid Theater.
“Director, give me another chance!”
Audition, failure, leaving in dejection, Ning Ning was very familiar with this scenario.
She walked in the door. The auditioner looked up from behind the table, his gaze penetrating from behind his glasses.
Ning Ning arrived late, most of the characters have been decided. But she wasn’t too late, because the most important female lead had not been decided. Amidst the gaze of the auditioner, she straightened her posture. She had had make up done before arriving, so as to make herself look more mature, because she was only eighteen that year, while the character design for the Phantom stated that she was a woman who was in her late 20s.
As such, the auditioner also only took a glance at her before looking down, “Next.”
Ning Ning didn’t want to leave just like this. She wanted to at least look at the script, look at the actors, look at a scene, to see if the <<Phantom of the Theater>> here was the same as the <<Phantom of the Theater>> in reality.
But the daily auditions seemed to have made the auditioner impatient, he looked up at Ning Ning and repeated his words, “Next!”
The door behind her opened, a commotion rang out from behind her. She looked back and saw a couple who were dressed fashionably at the door. The young man in a grey suit was acting mature with a cigarette in his mouth, but his body language reeked of a rich hedonistic brat. He held the waist of the woman beside him and smiled to the auditioner, “You do not need to pick anymore, I found the most suitable candidate, come, Qiao Qiao, greet the Director.”
“Hi, Director!” The woman who was dressed like a socialite puckered her scarlet red lips and blew the Director a kiss.
“Disqualified, next.” The auditioner who was also the director of the film coldly replied.
“Aiya, what’s wrong with her?” The young man immediately defended her. After the socialite elbowed him a few times, he scanned the room then pointed at Ning Ning and said, “At least she’s better than this, right?”
Ning Ning looked at him and was shocked.
“What is it?” The young man misjudged her expression, smiled and touch his face. “Why are you looking at me in such a provocative way? ”
Because Ning Ning had already recognised him.
“Chen Guan Chao!” The socialite pinched his waist and angrily said, “You said you loved me! This is how much you love me? Flirting with whores right in front of me…”
She took a look at Ning Ning and laughed, “A whore that is not even as pretty as me.”
But Ning Ning ignored her, she was utterly fixated on the young man.
Although he was much younger, much more frivolous, much more…idiotic, but he was definitely Director Chen. Director Chen from 1988, the scriptwriter and male lead of <<Phantom of the Theater>>, Chen Guan Chao!
Since she had identified him, she had more reasons not to just leave!
Ning Ning quickly scanned her surroundings. In the midst of The Socialite’s exclamation, she rushed to a window and tore down the curtain. With a flapping sound, the thick dark blue curtain draped on her body like a cloak, the edges of the curtain slowly floated down and wrapped around her body.
Before anyone could chase her out, Ning Ning raised her right hand, slowly covering her face, as if she had worn a half face mask. An extremely mocking smile appeared on her other side of the face, she exclaimed at Chen Guan Chao, “This is your new flame?”
She squinted her eyes and looked at the socialite with a picky and sharp expression. It looked like love rivals sizing up one another, but it also looked like Chen Guan Chao’s mother measuring a newly-wedded daughter-in-law.
It was apparent that the old lady was not satisfied with her son’s taste in women.
“Arrogant boy, this slave of fashion.”
“Ignorant fool, this bold suitor.”
“You have the cheek to long for my flower of victory!”
One of the singing segments for<<Phantom of the Opera>> — <<The Mirror>>
Female lead Christine’s debut on stage was a huge success. At the same time, she had received the favour and an invitation of Viscount Chagny. As she got dressed to get ready for the meeting, the Phantom’s singing voice rang out from the mirror behind her, degrading the Viscount contemptuously, then luring the female lead to enter the mirror.
“You want to give me up for her?” Ning Ning smiled at Chen Guan Chao, she slowly reached out a hand from underneath the curtain, just like a priest extending the back of his palm to a follower, “Christine.”
She was full of self-confidence, she was aloof, as if she was certain the other party would not go against her will for just an ordinary man. Because she was his teacher who taught him how to sing, molding him from a mere newcomer into a musical angel, making him turn into the theater’s main star, she was the Phantom of the Opera.
“What is she on about?” the socialite pouted. As she turned around, she bumped into a suit jacket.
Chen Guan Chao loosened his collar, then walked over in reverence, knelt down on one knee in front of her, as if he was a follower seeking forgiveness from his priest, putting his forehead on the back of her hand. Ning Ning was not well versed in musicals, so she recited the previous lines. But he replied by singing in the same delivery as a musical, “Please don’t abandon me, teacher…”
When he was done, he looked up with a smile and blinked at the Director, “How was it?”
The Director furrowed his brows and remained silent with his arms crossed.
“I told you, the Phantom should be a woman!” Chen Guan Chao lept from the ground, ran to the Director and put his arm around his shoulders. “Previously you were unwilling to compromise, citing a lack of suitable candidates, don’t we have one right now? ”
Under both their gazes, Ning Ning was slightly shocked.
…What was going on? The current Phantom for <<Phantom of the Theater>> was not female?
Ning Ning carefully recalled the recruitment advertisement in the newspaper, apparently it really wasn’t. The advertisement only stated that the adaptation of <<Phantom of the Opera>> titled <<Phantom of the Theater>> will begin filming, they need a female lead, female supporting role and several crowd actors. It did not state what the lead female character was, which meant to say, the current female lead this movie was lacking was very likely to not be the Phantom, but the female lead character Christine from the original works?
“…the risk is still too big.” The director was still showing signs of hesitation, “If the difference from the original work is too big, it would definitely be chewed out by the critics…”
“So what, movies are made for the audience anyway, they are not made for critics.” Chen Guan Chao had a look of indifference, “Controversy creates interest, the most important thing is……”
Ning Ning pricked her ears up beside them.
<<Phantom of the Theater>> was both Director Chen’s first work and a failed piece of work. The end result was just like what the two of them discussed. It was heavily criticised by the critics, but because of the controversy the movie remained relevant for quite a long time. Even up until now there were still quite a number of people talking about why he would adapt such a masterpiece in such a way, why did he have to flip the genders of the male and female lead characters.
“……I don’t have to play an ugly character.” The young Chen Guan Chao seriously stated, “As compared to the ugly Phantom, I’m more suited to play a handsome actor!”
As he finished, he struck what he felt was a dashing pose and winked at the Director and Ning Ning. “After all, I am so pretty hahahahaha.”
Ning Ning, “…”
……Where was the video camera!! She wanted to record this moment and bring it back to the present! It would topple the viewpoints of the people who were still digging for the meaning for swapping the male and female character roles of <<Phantom of the Theater>>.
The Director took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. He might have teared a bit. Before putting his glasses back on, he agreed to Chen Guan Chao’s suggestion. “Alright, I also feel that from all aspects you are more suited to be the female lead……”
Ning Ning felt that he was talking about Chen Guan Chao’s mental capacity…
“No no no, I am not going to cross dress as the female lead. I want to be this. Lu Yun He, after losing his fortunes he wandered into a theater and became an actor. Handsome and talented, with eyes that could kill and the voice of an angel. Even if he was to fall into a swamp, he would retain a heart that was as pure as a lotus flower…” Chen Guan Chao took out his script from his suit pocket and pointed it out word for word to the Director. This was probably a first draft, and not the final finished product Ning Ning had seen. She felt a little thrilled although she didn’t know what was written on the draft. As the Director read it, tears once again rolled down his cheek…
“What about me?” The Socialite came over at this moment and said to Chen Guan Chao sweetly, “Didn’t we agree on letting me be the female lead?”
“Of course you are the female lead baby.” Chen Guan Chao told her intimately, “A wealthy and pretty lady, do you like this character?”
The Socialite answered, “This lady loves it!”
Chen Guan Chao added, “It’s just that her looks is slightly worse than mine.”
Ning Ning watched the scenes unfold as a bystander. A narcissistic scriptwriter cum male lead, a socialite female lead, a teary-eyed director…she now knew why the movie flunked so hard.
“…Hello…” A timid voice suddenly rang out, it had a hint of hesitation and an extremely low self-confidence. “Is this…the audition for <<Phantom of the Theater>>? No, do you…still need people?”
Ning Ning and the rest looked over where the voice was coming from. They saw a half-opened door, a woman was hiding behind it. She had a beautiful appearance, was in her early 20s. She was wearing a white shirt and black pants and sported a single-braided pigtail. She looked unsophisticated, her face had the fear and anticipation of someone who had left a small county to see the world.
Director and Chen Guan Chao had seen a lot of these kinds of people over the past few days, so they had no reaction upon seeing her. Chen Guan Chao even waved his hand at her impatiently, “No no, please leave.”
But when Ning Ning saw her, her movements and voice completely stopped. Her appearance was like a slow motion video, every frame brought the beautiful luster of yearning, sentiment, love and nostalgia. Everything reflected in Ning Ning’s eyes, tears slowly blurred her vision.
Her heart shouted softly, “Mama…”
“You don’t need anyone anymore?” The young Ning Yu Ren didn’t even have the courage to argue. She looked down disappointingly. As she was about to turn around and leave, someone behind her held her back.
“Let her audition.” Ning Ning told director and Chen Guan Chao, then turned back and looked at Ning Yu Ren with slightly red eyes. She said with a smile, “Let them see your acting.”
Ning Yu Ren was slightly at a loss. She was pulled in front of everyone by Ning Ning. Chen Guan Chao rolled his eyes and said, “Then do the confession scene to the male lead.”
Ning Yu Ren trembled and looked at Chen Guan Chao, then she looked at Ning Ning while still trembling. As if she drew some courage from Ning Ning’s gaze, Ning Yu Ren took a few deep breaths, then suddenly looked up, flared her nostrils, glared and rushed towards Chen Guan Chao like a raging bear running down a mountain while shouting, “I LOVE YOU AHHH!!”
Chen Guan Chao, “…”
Ning Ning, “..”