Brentwood stages Canada’s first-ever high school production of Phantom of the Opera
The buzz from news Brentwood College School would be the first Canadian high school to stage Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical masterpiece Phantom of the Opera hasn’t ended.
It’s only just begun.
The school’s first showing of the full-fledged version of Phantom hits the stage next week and director and producer Edna Widenmaier said the first two shows are already sold out.
“We’re making it out really well,” Widenmaier said. “We’ve done a couple of runs of the show already.
“It’s a very complex show, so there’s a lot of technical elements that need to be seamlessly worked into what’s happening on stage in terms of the performers, so his Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we build in the orchestra, and that’s a 31-piece professional orchestra. Then on Saturday we do our cue-to-cue check, and that’s the final icing on the cake.”
Excitement’s been brewing at Brentwood, since the third week of September after Widenmaier had gained rights to stage Phantom at a cost of about $5,000.
Webber’s agents in New York had announced the playwright would start allowing high schools to present Phantom with one stipulation: he won’t allow schools to use a (musical) backing track.
Student performers trying out for Brentwood’s take went through a comprehensive and rigorous selection process, which included testing and retesting their vocal ranges as well as their acting skills.
Phantom’s 10 principals include Davin Killy as The Phantom, Maggie Davies as Christine Daae, Daniel Hilhorst as Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, Hannah Wade as Carlotta Giudicelli, Alex Marback as Ubaldo Piangi, Joel Wilson as Monsieur Firmin, Toby Green as Monsieur Andre, Min Kim as Madame Giry, Charlotte Wilson as Meg Giry, and Gavin Stephen as Joseph Buquet.
There were also more than 20 smaller acting and singing solo roles for students to fill, including a very busy Corps de Ballet of eight dancers required to have strong classical training to qualify.
Widenmaier’s gang is currently working on a few technical challenges, mostly with Webber’s segue scene changes.
“The way Webber posed these parts is that they’re a very integral part of the show as well,” she said. And those things need to be practiced and practiced so that they’re seamless.”
The Brentwood bunch, so far, hasn’t been too overwhelmed taking on Webber’s seven-time-Tony-award winning masterwork.
“They’re so dedicated and open to direction and they’re very, very excited,” Widenmaier said. “They’re very keen to actually work with the orchestra and to work with the audience and that’s the next challenge, to build all of those elements and maintain them with an audience.”
Most of the crew was already familiar with the hit production.
“It’s a sing-through production and so there’s very little dialogue.
“There are two scenes, for example, in the manager’s office and you have six characters holding their own musical line against each other with a very long piece of music and they’re doing brilliantly on it and I’ve been blessed with some very good singers – extremely good singers – and, I mean I wouldn’t have done the show if I thought that I didn’t have the horses to do it.
“These kids have just been absolutely delightful.”
On Sunday, the crew holds their first dress rehearsal with the orchestra, which is being led by musical director Phil Newns. The school then hosts a family, faculty and staff viewing Monday.
The Friday, March 11 and Saturday, March 12 shows are sold out. Tickets are still up for grabs for the Tuesday, March 8, Wednesday, March 9 and Thursday, March 10 7:30 p.m. performances.
What: Brentwood College School presents The Phantom of the Opera
When: March 8 to 12, curtain 7:30 p.m.
Where: T. Gil Bunch Centre for Performing Arts
Tickets: $25. Reserved seating available online at tgb.brentwood.bc.ca, at the box office 250-743-8756 or at the door. (Not suitable for those under seven years old)