A Dark Tale

‘The Phantom of the Opera’ comes to WHS

The Phantom (Nick Stevens) sings to Christine (Sydney Valaer) during “Music of the Night.” Buy this photo

If you go...

Shows will begin at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 16-17; and Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 22-24 at Washburn Performing Arts Center, 1201 39th St.

Tickets are $8 at the door for adults, and $6 for students and senior citizens.

photo

Revelers at the Masquerade dance make the most of the night. From left are Keira Stogin, Savannah McHolland, Jacob Lively, Danielle DeVall and Mac Wright.

Cast list

• Nick Stevens - The Phantom

• Sydney Valaer - Christine

• Tyler Schroeder - Raoul

• Lauren Tofell - Carlotta

• Mac Wright - Piangi

• Keira Stogin - Madame Andre

• Jacob Lively - Monsieur Firmin

• Zoe West - Madame Giry

• Nicole Gamble - Madame Reyer

• Liza Hess - Meg Giry

• Carson Connors - Joseph Bouquet

• Danielle Devall - Auctioneer-passarino/ensemble

Ensemble: Elysia Pfeifer, Shannon Leininger, Kailey Dayton, Courtney Burton, Stefanie Loersch, Venessa scheg, Jenny Wilson, Mia Sellem, Melia Stewart, Sonja Adams, Abbie Barnes, Maddy Turner. Sidney Childers, Naomie Gilmore, Holly Erikson, Paris Mitchell, Matt Quist, Nate Strickland, Christian Edmondson, Andrew McLean, Michael Stevens, Liam Britt- Ensemble, Tristan Fackler, Fransisco Perres, Savannah McHolland.

Obsession. Madness. Love. Forgiveness.

All of these will portrayed on stage for audiences with the opening of “The Phantom of the Opera” at Washougal High School this Friday.

Based on a novel by French writer Gaston Leroux, it is partly inspired by historical events at the Paris Opera during the nineteenth century. Its plot revolves around a beautiful soprano, Christine Daae, who becomes the dark obsession of a mysterious, mentally ill musical genius with a severe disfigurement.

In 1986, the production, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, opened in London’s West End and on Broadway in 1988. It is the longest running show in Broadway history and the second longest-running West End musical, after Les Misérables. It continues to play in both venues.

Drama director Kelly Gregersen was inspired by Phantom as a young man, and is excited to have his students bring the musical to life for audiences in Washougal.

photo

Theatre managers (Jacob Lively and Keira Stogin) discuss the strange turn of affairs their show has taken.

“With a lot of our shows, it’s really looking at the kids we have and things we want to do,” he said. “Jen Mahorney, our music director, loved this show as a kid. I have the book and the Phantom mask was hanging on my wall in college. It just seemed like the right choice, and we have the (student) voices to do it, the kids who really have what it takes to pull the show off.”

Gregersen requested rights to the show last spring, not really expecting anything.

“I was really excited when we got it, because there are only a certain number they give out to amateur groups,” he said.

Senior Nick Stevens play the Phantom. He is a talented singer who plans to major in vocal performance at Pacific Lutheran University.

“He is probably the most unique character I have ever played,” he said. “I feel really awesome about being able to do it.”

Stevens noted that his “typical character” is usually an authority type.

“Now, I’m cast as a lunatic who is in love with a girl far too young for him,” he said. “With his disfigurement, the Phantom has been deprived of power, and is trying to compensate.”

The Phantom first appears to Christine as an “angel of music,” but soon the unusual relationship becomes a danger for everyone involved, especially her fiance and childhood friend, Raoul.

“I am really excited to be playing the Phantom for my senior show,” Stevens said. “People really get into this and they love it. I love all the singing and the music. It is great.”

Sophomore Sydney Valaer plays the role of Christine. It is her first high school production, though she acted in Christian Youth Theater productions for several years before taking a break.

photo

The Phantom causes a commotion among the guests of the Masquerade.

“I feel really privileged to have a lead role,” she said. “It feels amazing. I love singing and this has been my favorite musical since I was a little girl.”

She describes her character as a talented young woman who isn’t sure what she wants out of life.

“She isn’t really sure who the Phantom is, and is in love with Raoul but still wants the Phantom because he mesmerizes her,” Valaer said.

Although the role is challenging, she is looking forward to showing audiences what she can do with it.

“I am excited to perform in front of people again,” she said.

Senior Tyler Schroder plays the role of Raoul.

“He is a very passionate person,” he said. “He cares for Christine and is very protective of her. He doesn’t want to lose her to anyone, especially a demented man who is deceiving her.”

It is the first time Schroder has played a romantic leading man.

“It is such a change,” he said. “Usually, I portray an angry, powerful character.”

He added that the singing is a “big challenge.”

“I have never had a vocal teacher, so I’m working with Mrs. Mahorney and trying to listen to all of the recordings because I don’t know how to read sheet music.”

With family traveling from California to watch him perform, Schroder is excited for opening night.

“My extended family has never heard or seen me perform before and my immediate family has never heard me sing before,” he said.

While cast members have tackled the music, volunteer seamstresses have been undergoing the challenging task of creating several new, elaborate costumes for the production.

Fran McCarty spearheads the efforts. She is assisted by Cheryl Prebble, Diane Ladwig and Marilyn Washburn.

“They made 30 new costumes for this show, and it really changes the whole feel and look of the program,” Gregersen said. “We are very fortunate to have them.”

Despite the challenges of “Phantom,” Gregersen, like his students, is eagerly anticipating opening night.

“I always enjoy watching the audience get taken to a new place,” he said. “We’re going to have some surprises in store for them.”