Hi, welcome. As Witch says, it's very quiet here these days, so a new voice is always a pleasure. There used to be a big Phantom forum which had been running for many years. It had a large number of members and was always active. However, that site closed a few years ago, and the members have scattered or moved to Facebook. Facebook is okay in its way, but topics sort of drop off the bottom of the page and get lost after a few days. In a forum like this one (or "Deserted Phans," the other one that I read) it's possible to find subjects of interest by the titles, and revive them even if they've been inactive for years (as you did recently, in the one about Erik's kiss).
Like you, I'm in the UK. I had always liked the basic story of Phantom, had read Leroux and seen some of the earlier films. But it was the ALW stage musical (which I first saw in the late 1980's) which really captivated me. Over the years I've seen it about 10 times. I wasn't quite such a fan of the 2004 film with Gerard Butler, but I accept that not everybody can get to the stage show, and the film does bring the music to a wider audience. I prefer the video of the 25th Anniversary at the Royal Albert Hall. Because of limitations of the venue, there were a few things that couldn't be done the way they are in the show's "home" theatre, but it gives us about 90% of the stage show, and I'm very glad to have that. (I was in the audience the night they filmed it, which gives me another reason for liking that one!)
Just to mention a slightly off-beat version of the story, I wonder if you've come across "Wishbone"? That's an American TV show from the 1990's. There's a group of kids with a small dog called Wishbone. Each episode starts with a modern-day framing story, then Wishbone starts telling the story from a famous book. The version of Phantom is necessarily much abridged, but is surprisingly true to the Leroux novel. You can find it on Youtube here:
I gather from your username that you're a Jane Austen fan! There's also a Wishbone version of Pride & Prejudice, under the name of "Furst Impressions."
I look forward to chatting with you.