Countdown to curtain up for that Phantom

January 27, 2018

John Wright and Mark Thomson will co-direct Echuca-Moama Theatre Company's production of Phantom of the Opera.

FOUR months and counting.

Well, Echuca-Moama Theatre Company is counting.

Because it is exactly how long it has to perfect the biggest production it has ever staged.

Rehearsals for The Phantom of the Opera began in earnest last week and already things are looking good.

Co-director John Wright said he was extremely pleased with the progress being made by the 47-strong cast members.

‘‘I think the biggest advantage we’ve got and the benefit we’re getting is fantastic engagement from the cast,’’ he said.

‘‘They all want individually and collectively to make it fabulous. That sort of commitment is going to make it worth it, so I’m delighted.

‘‘I think there’s a real expectation being set by individuals in the group about what they want from this, and it’s not standard. Which means, from a director’s point of view, it’s a joy because we’ve just got to keep people focused in that direction.’’

Mr Wright said he had not seen this level of drive in a show before.

‘‘If it all goes well over the next three to four months, I really believe it will be a performance and experience that patrons are going to absolutely adore,’’ he said.

And with 12 performances scheduled instead of the usual eight, Mr Wright said it was extremely important to have strong audience engagement.

‘‘Like in anything, we take risks and we’ve really made a commitment here. It’s not silly, it’s measured but we really do need the community’s support,’’ he said.

‘‘We need our people to come along, to get their feet on the ground and watch this fabulous show because that’s what’s really going to make it work in the end.

‘‘I know that the work is going in, I know the preparation in terms of the show, the theatre, lighting we’ve not had before, sound we’ve not had before, costumes we’ve not had before as well as sets and props we’ve got from the best amateur theatre companies in Melbourne, so we’ve gone the extra yard to get all those components together and all those little bits will add up to something.’’

Because of the magnitude of the show, the Paramount has agreed to let EMTC bump into the theatre three weeks before the show opens at a discounted price, which Mr Wright said was a first for the group.

‘‘We’re doing some work on the face of the theatre and internally at the stage entrance and we’ll transform it into the 1890s,’’ he said.

‘‘I won’t give it away but I think audiences are going to love it. The whole ambience of the French opera theatre is going to be re-created.

‘‘Having the theatre for that time is really important because it will take us probably two weeks to get that really set and having that opportunity with the cast to rehearse together in the theatre environment is really important.

‘‘Without that, it would take a little away from the preparation we need to do here.

‘‘We just can’t afford to say we’re going to pop in there and sing really great and make it a great show. The Phantom’s different, it’s an opera. The quality of the voice, the timbre, the tone, the characterisations have got to match the voice. It’s far different to any other musical.

‘‘That’s why it’s an icon. It’s why it’s the zenith of musical theatre.’’

The Phantom of the Opera will take to the stage at the Paramount from May 25 to June 9, 2018.

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