BWW Review: GOOSEBUMPS: THE PHANTOM OF THE AUDITORIUM at The Rose Theater May Give You Shivers!

BWW Review: GOOSEBUMPS: THE PHANTOM OF THE AUDITORIUM at The Rose Theater May Give You Shivers!

GOOSEBUMPS: THE PHANTOM OF THE AUDITORIUM may not give you the shivers because it is scary, but those beautiful young voices may raise a few goosebumps!

GOOSEBUMPS, currently on stage at The Rose Theater was adapted from R. L. Stine's hugely popular Goosebumps books by John Maclay (book and lyrics) and Danny Abosch (music, lyrics, orchestrations and arrangements.) You might say that it's a teen version of the Broadway classic, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, but couched in terms that the younger set will identify with. Rather than occurring in some haunted opera house, this story takes place in Woods Mill Middle School with a secret lower level accessible by an elevator and trapdoor.

Ms Walker (Ashley Laverty) is the school Drama Club teacher who is determined to complete a play that her great grandmother attempted 73 years before. For some mysterious reason, the production never took place. Best friends Brooke (Audrey Saucier) and Zeke (Elliot Kerkhofs) are cast as the leads. Tina (Sophie Williams) is unhappily relegated to understudy and given the multiple tasks of running all backstage functions. The other students, Anna (Olivia Bryant), Camille (Annlynn Casey), Steve (Camden Park) and Corey (Carson Bishop) are given minor roles which they accept with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Ms Walker insists that "there are no small parts, only small actors." These teens are proving they are not small actors. They interact with an unpleasant night janitor, Emile (Alphonse Kroeten) who tries to discourage them from becoming too snoopy. When a new student, Brian (Christian Wintle) joins the Drama Club, a bit of expected romantic interest is added...and possibly, another mystery.

The story is predictable. But paired with the music and staging, it is a pleasure. Music Director Jerry Brabec and Choreographer Sue Gillespie Booton have done a commendable job with this young cast. The music conjures up BRING IT ON with its catchy contemporary melodies and 'rhyme every line lyrics' (especially the awkward but sweet duet, "Babbling Brooke," between Wintle and Saucier.) These kids and Laverty all have strong, beautiful voices and can sell the songs. Group numbers are a treat for the eyes and ears. And I especially enjoyed Williams' solo performance in "Understudy Buddy."

Lighting designer Craig S. Moxon has created interesting effects using flashlights to highlight faces, spotlights to pinpoint suspects, and simulated lightning to create tension. Streaks of light across the ceiling along with the use of painted backdrops suggest movement between floors of the school. The set designed by Bridgette Dreher is really impressive with its several shades of gray brick in the walls, coils of brown ropes, and brightly colored lockers and posters.

Director Suzanne Withem and Assistant Director Hayley Greenstreet have put together another fine production for The Rose Theater. The house was packed on Sunday with every seat filled. The show runs through November 11, so there's still time to catch it. But hurry. I am afraid you will miss it if you wait too long.

Photo Credit: Alex Myhre

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From This Author Christine Swerczek

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