GrandTheatre-HSP PhantomThe iconic tunes of “The Phantom of the Opera” are set to echo through the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario from September 19 to October 7, marking a major milestone for a unique community endeavor. This year’s rendition of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece is no ordinary production; it’s the silver anniversary of the High School Project, a celebrated initiative that has been shaping young talent for a quarter of a century.

Andrew Tribe, director of the production and a two-time alum of the High School Project, couldn’t contain his excitement. “The Grand Theatre is more than a venue; it’s a launching pad for a story that explores the complexities of love, identity, and personal growth. It’s not just entertainment; it’s a life lesson packed into a musical score.”

 

At the heart of this theatrical journey lies the figure of the Phantom, a disfigured musical genius lurking in the catacombs of the Paris Opera House. His tormented love for a young soprano turns into a perilous obsession, a compelling storyline that has held audiences rapt since the show premiered in London’s West End in 1986. It’s a narrative imbued with themes of compassion, resilience, and self-recognition, making it an ideal choice for a youthful cast embarking on their own journeys of self-discovery.

The accolades for “The Phantom of the Opera” are numerous. It has clinched the 1986 Olivier Award and the 1988 Tony Award for Best Musical, and it even ventured into the cinematic realm with a 2004 film adaptation directed by Joel Schumacher. Until its closing in April 2023, it was the longest-running show in Broadway history, amassing more than 13,981 performances, captivating over 20 million viewers, and raking in an astonishing $1.3 billion.

POST_PhantomHSP - smallBut accolades aside, what makes this Grand Theatre production truly grand is its embodiment of community and inclusivity. Tribe is joined by an ensemble of professionals like Floydd Ricketts, the music director, and Nicola Pantin, the choreographer. The creative forces also include budding talents in assistant directing, music, and design elements like costumes, lighting, and sound—a cross-generational fusion of skill and ambition.

The cast and crew size is one for the record books, drawn from a pool of over 300 high school students from grades 9 to 12. A total of 48 students have been selected for acting roles, 23 will participate in various behind-the-scenes functions, and three have even made it to the orchestra. Students come from a diverse range of backgrounds and locations, some hailing from as far as Woodstock and Petrolia.

“It’s amazing to see a blend of seasoned and rookie performers,” Tribe noted. “There’s a rawness, a newness that only adds to the emotional depth of the show. It reminds us why we all first fell in love with theater.”

For those wishing to catch this landmark production, you’ll have to act fast, with limited availability remaining. Ticket prices range from $26 to $46.50 and are available online at www.grandtheatre.com, via phone at 519-672-8800, or directly at the Box Office located at 471 Richmond Street.

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