Theatre Information

Freedom High School The Phantom of the Opera

By • Apr 27th, 2012 • Category: Cappies, Virginia

It can be argued that no musical has had a greater impact on pop culture than The Phantom of the Opera. From popularizing the half mask, to providing immeasurable glee to anyone with a microphone and a good hiding place, to making the idea of a disfigured recluse lurking in the bowels of a national landmark somehow acceptable, Phantom has left its mark. By courageously embracing the musical, along with the preconceived notions that come with a show of such great popularity and history, Freedom High School was able to make a mark of their own.

Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and based on the novel by Gaston Leroux, the musical tells of a mysterious “opera ghost” inhabiting the Paris Opera house. Hackles are raised after new owners, Monsieurs Firmin and Andre, struggle with the demands of both the phantom and the prima donna Carlotta, while chorus girl Christine’s loyalties are torn between childhood sweetheart Raoul and the mysterious phantom. The Phantom of the Opera opened on West End in 1986 and moved to Broadway in 1988 where it continues to hold the record as the longest running show in Broadway history having recently passed its 10,000 performance and has amassed numerous Drama Desk and Tony awards.

Strong vocals are crucial to driving the plot and creating an emotional impact in the show, and in this aspect, the leads excelled. Taylor Del Vecchio’s versatility was impressive; as Christine she was equally at ease with sweet and low melodies as she was with spot-on operatic notes. As the phantom, Tim Lewis’s silky, entrancing voice was perfectly suited to the character while Tyler Cramer’s steady voice maintained the sense of security that Christine finds so appealing in Raoul.

Every good prima donna knows how to steal the spotlight and, as Carlotta, Shelly Walsh did just that. An indomitable whirlwind, Walsh sang with power and control beyond her years and played the star with the perfect amount of comedic timing. Never losing character, she elevated the status of Carlotta from intolerable diva to yappy lapdog, annoying, but all the more endearing for it. Jim McCarthy and Nate Boorom, Firmin and Andre respectively, performed at their best when together. Whether acting or singing they were a hilarious and impressive couple. The cast’s shining moment came during “Prima Donna.” The cast’s voices flowed and mixed beautifully in the complex number involving seven characters and a great amount of concentration.

Faced with the difficulty of bulky sets, huge candelabras, and a plethora of extension cords, the running crew was remarkably effective. Crew members were hardly ever seen moving set pieces through difficult, yet smooth transitions, giving the illusion of automated changes. The phantom’s lair was executed very well, with great control of fog effects and a romantic array of candles fabricated by the prop crew.

Freedom High School tackled the musical beast that is Phantom with fervor, performing a spectacular production.

by Gretchen Kuhn of Briar Woods High School

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