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Stage Door Chicago: Phantom

Phantom, with Book by Arthur Kopit and Music & Lyrics by Maury Yeston is the latest undertaking of Porchlight Music Theatre. Based on the novel "The Phantom of the Opera" by Gaston Leroux, Phantom's lead actor's Lara Filip and Peter Oyloe with Director L. Walter Stearns speak to Michael Roberts about the production.

Phantom is playing at the Theatre Building Chicago from September 16 through November 11 at 1225 W. Belmont Avenue, Chicago, IL 60657

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The press release for Phantom follows:

2007-2008 Season Opens With

Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit's Musical Sensation


"The Most Successful Musical Never to Play Broadway"

Chicago, IL- Porchlight Music Theatre presents PHANTOM, by Arthur Kopit (Indians, Wings, Nine) with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston (Nine, Grand Hotel, Titanic).  This internationally acclaimed musical is based on the Gaston Leroux 1910 novel, The Phantom of the Opera.  The musical, which is described as the most successful production "never to have played Broadway", will preview September 14, open Sunday, September 16 at 2:30 p.m. and run through November 11, 2007 at Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W Belmont.

The evolution of PHANTOM is an interesting story. Yeston and Kopit had just finished the musical Nine, winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1982, when they were approached by Actor/Director/Choreographer Geoffrey Holder to write an American musical based on the Leroux novel. Holder had obtained the rights from the Leroux estate, making PHANTOM the first and only Phantom of the Opera musical to do so.

 Yeston and Kopit had plans to take the musical to Broadway when a real threat emerged.  Variety announced that a musical production of The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber was also headed to Broadway.

The race was on to bring the story of The Phantom of the Opera as a musical to the stage.  Andrew Lloyd Webber had instant fame with his rendition in Britain.  In the meantime, the three million dollars that Yeston, Kopit and Holder raised for their own Broadway production evaporated as investors pulled out.   Eventually their project was put aside. According to Arthur Kopit, it was one of the bleakest moments of their lives because they had come to love their work.

Shortly after that, Kopit saw the Andrew Lloyd Webber version of The Phantom of the Opera in New York and realized that the approach he and Yeston had taken was so fundamentally different that it could still work on the musical stage.

Arthur Kopit rewrote the script outline into a miniseries and sold it to NBC where it premiered on television in 1990. Kopit said, "I told Maury to hold on. Maybe someone would see the miniseries, think it would make a good musical we'd be ready." In effect, this is what happened.

In January 1991, Houston's Theatre under the Stars presented the world premiere of the Kopit/Yeston musical. It was later presented in Seattle and in San Bernardino. But the production that really launched the show was here in Chicago, staged by Bill Pullinsi at the now defunct Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, receiving rave reviews in publications including Variety and the Wall Street Journal which led to interest from theaters around the country.

With more than one thousand independent productions worldwide, Yeston still refers to PHANTOM as "the most popular hit never to star on Broadway." This show has grossed over 71 million dollars to date, becoming one of the most popular musicals of all time. Theater devotees refer to this version as the "smarter" PHANTOM

Kopit and Yeston did not like the monstrous Phantom as portrayed in the movies.  They instead created a more human character who lives in the catacombs of the Paris Opera and falls in love with the voice and beauty of Christine. Drama ensues when a scheming diva, Carlotta, attempts to sabotage Christine's opera debut.  A passionate tale of murder, intrigue and love, PHANTOM is an exhilarating musical with a lush and compelling score that captures audiences.

Porchlight's PHANTOM stars Lara Filip as Christine, Naomi Landman as Carlotta, Jim Sherman as Gerrard Carriere and 2007 Jeff Citation winner Peter Oyloe as The Phantom.  Several actors from Porchlight's recent Ragtime will be joining the PHANTOM cast including:  David Jiles Jr., Renardo Johnson, Drew Mikuska , Leah Rose Orleans , Gerald Richardson  and Daniel Waters.  Rounding out the cast of PHANTOM are Virginia Brazier, Dennis Folwarczny, Jillian Jocson, Kenneth Kendall, Jack Mulopulos, and Jennifer Tjepkema.  The artistic team for PHANTOM is led by director, L. Walter Stearns, with musical director Eugene Dizon, choreographer Annie Hackett, scenic designer Robert Martin, and costume designer John Nasca.  Jennifer A. Kincaid serves as the stage manager.

Ticket Information

Porchlight Music Theatre will present PHANTOM at Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 West Belmont (at Racine), from September 14 through November 11, 2007.  The performance schedule is: Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m., and Sunday afternoons at 2:30 p.m.  Tickets are $34 on Friday and $35 on Saturday and Sunday shows.  For tickets or more information, call the Theatre Building Chicago's box office at 773.327.5252 or visit  Tickets are also available through TicketMaster at 312. 902-1500 or  For group discounts, call 312.423.6612 or visit

 About Porchlight Music Theatre

Porchlight Music Theatre, originally founded in 1995 as Porchlight Theatre, has made a name for itself by producing engaging musicals with a focus on new works and inventive adaptations.  A professional, not-for-profit organization, the company has staged 35 shows including five World Premieres and seven Chicago Premieres.  The rapidly growing mid-sized theatre company has received 5 Jeff Awards as well as 13 Jeff Award nominations, 31 Joseph Jefferson Citation nominations, 11 Jeff Citations, and 20 After Dark Awards. 

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From This Author Michael J. Roberts

Michael is originally from New York where he ran a theatrical production company for many years. Encore Theatrical Productions produced many east coast tours of (read more...)

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