Coleman Among First Schools to Produce Phantom of the Opera


John A. Coleman Catholic High School in Hurley, New York is among the first schools to acquire the rights to produce Andrew Lloyd Webber's Broadway classic "The Phantom of the Opera," the longest running show in Broadway history. The independent Catholic-affiliated school, founded in 1967, has an enrollment of 185, yet the cast of "Phantom" will consist of over 40 young people from the Hudson River Valley. Coleman High School Musical Theater Director Lise Hopson states that "Phantom" is the biggest challenge of her 20 year career at the school.

"The kids found out the rights had just been released and they just deluged me with requests to do the show' Hopson said. "At first I wasn't sure I wanted to take on a show this mammoth, this elaborate and demanding, but they convinced me with their enthusiasm and their passion. They turned up during study halls and kept singing the music to me. I became convinced we had the voices to do the show. It is a complex show vocally, but I am not worried; these kids will come through." Hopson feels the biggest challenge to putting the show up will be the costumes, sets, and lighting, which are opulent. "We have to create the feel of the Paris Opera House." Since late August parents have been putting in countless hours sewing costumes, building sets, and collecting props. The entire school is mobilized.

The enthusiasm at the school is palpable: "I am so excited to be playing my dream role with my best friends," said sophomore Anne Clare Gibbons-Brown who plays Christine. "I am thrilled to be playing the Phantom in the biggest production Coleman has ever attempted," adds senior Zachary Pesner. Junior David Schillinger said: "This is a production that no one will want to miss."

"The Phantom of the Opera" tells the story of a masked figure that lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, exercising a reign of terror over all who inhabit it. He falls madly in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine, and devotes himself to creating a new star by nurturing her extraordinary talents and by employing all of the devious methods at his command. It sensational score includes Think of Me, Angel of Music, All I ask of You, Masquerade, and The Phantom of the Opera. "Phantom" won seven Tony Awards in 1988, and propelled Sarah Brightman (in the role of Christine) and Michael Crawford (as the Phantom) to theatrical fame.

The show will receive six performances at Coleman High School on successive weekends in November; Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 pm on November 19, 20, 26, 27, and Sundays at 3:00 pm on November 21 and 28. Ticket prices are $15 for adults and $10 for children under 12. Due to the overwhelming popularity of the show, tickets are currently on sale and may be reserved by calling the high school at 845-338-3054.

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