‘Phantom’ visits Vilar Center
BEAVER CREEK ” First it was a novel, then an internationally acclaimed musical, then a major motion picture. Now, it is a family-friendly theatrical production. Only a story featuring timeless themes and rich, complex characters can endure so many varied interpretations while maintaining its heart, integrity and popularity. Gaston Leroux’s “Phantom of the Opera” is one of those masterpieces.
Performed in just 60 dramatic, humorous and action-packed minutes Thursday at12 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek, this version of “Phantom” is a gentle and warm adaptation of the classic, designed for audiences young and old with a central, crafted and thoughtful message at its core.
Six passionate actors bring this tale to life and present a narrative focused on the teacher-student relationship between the reclusive Phantom and the charmingly naive Christine.
“I love the story,” said Scott Napier, who portrays the Phantom, “It is about accepting your differences and realizing that in spite of what society may imply, everybody has something to contribute. The things that make you different are the things that make you special.”
The phantom, lives as a recluse in the Paris Opera House after a tragic fire leaves him disfigured and disillusioned. He finally comes out of hiding after meeting Christine, a young country girl who’s gentle spirit and genuine reverence for the phantom’s true self reminds him of all that he has to offer.
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“Everybody can relate to the experience of feeling different, left out or misunderstood,” Napier said. “This would have been a great show for me to see as a child. I was shy. I can identify with the phantom’s struggle.”
Krista Severeid, who plays Christine, agrees.
“This is an age-old story that reoccurs throughout time” she said. “When we meet Christine, she is reeling from the death of her father. When she meets the phantom, he takes on an important role in her life as a teacher, mentor and friend. This relationship is one so many of us can relate to and appreciate. It is a lovely story with a wonderful ending.”
It is a story enriched, Severeid said, by the relationships the actors are cultivating on the road. The national tour just completed the second month of a six-month cross-country road trip.
“We eat, sleep and breathe together,” said Napier. “Sometimes, the traveling is a bigger challenge than the acting. You are constantly learning more and more about each other. What buttons you can push and which ones you can’t.”
That, added Severeid, makes the performances on stage more real.
“It can go both ways in this profession, but in the case of this group, the more we know about each other the more we draw from one another on stage,” he said.
These actors also share a responsibility, they feel, to their audience.
“I am honored to have an opportunity to indirectly affect the children and parents that come to the show,” said Severeid. “Maybe they will go home and talk about what makes them feel alone or different in their own life, or how they could reach out to another person who may be experiencing those emotions. There are so many things that keep us separate from each other that don’t need to. I think that’s the general message of the show.”
The actors said the show’s message is also enhanced by the sophisticated and challenging music that plays its own role in this modified “Phantom.”
“My favorite part of musicals is when each song reveals something new about the character. That is true for the songs in this show,” Napier said.
Award-winning composer David Spencer is the talent behind the poignant lyrics and score. Together, with Director Rob Barron, Choreographer Joyce A. Presutti, Stage Manager Daniel Boulos and the cast, the traveling Theatreworks USA team presents a version of “Phantom” that engages and entertains adults while reaching and affecting children.
“You can see the children glued to their seats, leaning forward and riveted. You can hear their cheers and feel their passion,” Napier said. “It is the most amazing part of this production.”
“It is exciting to bring live theater to young people,” Severeid added. “There are great movies, there is great television, but this is great theater. There is something special about seeing something happen right before your eyes.”
For tickets, call 845-TIXS (8497) or go to vilarcenter.org.