Hamilton High School is producing four performances of “The Phantom of The Opera,” Broadway’s longest-running musical, March 20 through 22.
With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Charles Hart, sets by Dave Schlechten and voices by Peggy Bucheit’s choir students, the musical will be stellar.
The play was originally based on the book by Gaston Leroux published in 1911. The story has been somewhat altered over time and has become the dramatic love story that is performed in theaters everywhere, winning seven Tony Awards.
The plot is that a musical genius deformed from birth is the Phantom of the Opera (Aidan Carmody), who many think is a ghost. He lives beneath the famous Paris Opera House.
Raoul de Changy (Jacob Rogers) comes to the Opera House to take over as the new manager.
To celebrate, the opera throws a gala event during which the company’s prima donna Carlotta (Emma Olbricht) rehearses a selection from their production of “Hannibal.” Falling stage scenery nearly kills her and she refuses to perform. Christine Daae (Annie Carroll), a young soprano who the Phantom has been tutoring to sing lead in the play, is given the part.
Raoul and Christine fall in love, enraging the Phantom who also has feelings for her. The Phantom kidnaps Christine so that she will be his bride, unaware of the lengths that Raoul is prepared to go to get her back.
The Hamilton High production is dramatic and professional.
“Everyone is doing an amazing job,” said HHS senior Annie Carroll. “We are all putting our heart and soul into this show and you can really feel it. This show has made us grow stronger as a team and as a choir.”
Carroll said she has always loved “Phantom of the Opera,” as it is her favorite, and she feels very lucky to be part of it.
“My hope is to give the audience a real Broadway experience,” said Carroll. “The Phantom of the Opera is a very challenging show in general, but I think the most difficult part about playing Christine is that I’m on stage 95 percent of the time and hardly have a water break and my costume changes are extremely fast. But it’s all worth it in the end.’’
Carroll said she feels very confident in her upcoming lead performance in the play and loves every minute that she spends on stage.
Aidan Carmody, playing the lead role of the Phantom, feels the challenge of being the character and singing the music.
“For me, the hardest part of being the Phantom is acting like the Phantom, or becoming the Phantom because the actual character is nothing like me at all,” said Carmody. “I am a fun and loving guy and the Phantom doesn’t exactly fit those classifications. Once my Phantom character was more developed, it made the music that much more spectacular than it already is.”
The set was designed and built by Dave Schlechten, a semi-retired architect, who has been working on the set since January.
“I have learned an awful lot of how hard it is to make ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ set. I mean, that set is colossal,” said Carmody. “The size of the set contributes to its creativity, all thanks to Dave Schlecten and his helpers.”
The cast list and support crew is lengthy.
Executive Producer/Music Director: Peggy Bucheit; Phantom – Aidan Carmody; Christine – Annie Carroll; Raoul – Jacob Rogers; Piangi – Hannah Peterson; Andre’– Marcus Wuensche; Firmin – Caleb Hill; Buquet – Cameron Meikle; Don Attilio – Brandon Cleveland; Passarino – Colter Mason; Auctioneer – Ben Gillum; Porter – Markus Schoellen and Cougan Jones; Reyer – Joey Ostler; Lefevere – Finn Belanger; Slave Master – Casey Hammond; Carlotta – Emma Olbricht; Madame Giry – Courtney Miller/Emarie Majors; Meg Giry – Olivia Kern; Confidant/Vocal Trio – Annika Moore; Jeweler/Vocal Trio – Sierra Gideon; Hairdresser/Vocal Trio – Brittany Nelson; Dancers – Alyssa McCrossin, Hannah Grable, Athena Lande, Courtney Miller/Emarie Majors, Tess Gallagher Clancy, Kaitlin Stromberg, Olivia Kern, Taylor Bess.
Chorus Members: Jaylee Albert, Karill Apedaile, Jordan Bauder, Finn Belanger, James Bess, Taylor Bess, Orion Bos, Brandon Cleveland, Riley Della Silva, Kimberley Denton, Baylie Duce, Breann Duce, Robert Few, Tess Gallagher Clancy, Sierra Gideon, Ben Gillum, Hannah Grable, Brianne Hall, Casey Hammond, Ciara Isaak, Carlie Jessop, Cougan Jones, Jayson Kareck, Georgia Kimball, Vanessa King, Athena Lande, Tanner Lehr, Mariah Lund, Emarie Majors, Hagan Majors, Colter Mason, Alyssa McCrossin, Maquala McGouldrick, Dorje McPherron, Cameron Meikle, Andrew Merkel, Courtney Miller, Annika Moore, Brittany Nelson, Kaylin Noffsinger, Colton Orr, Bailey Pitzinger, Tabatha Pritchett, McKayl Rothie, Markus Schoellen, Guy Schreckendgust, Eveanna Scott, Jordan Stewart, Kaitlin Stromberg, Julia Zepeda, Elizabeth Zohner, Grace Zohner.
Rehearsal Accompanist and Keyboards: Tricie Callagan-Stover.
Pit Orchestra Members: Tasha Athman Fain and Sushmita Stridhar – violin, Frank Lawrence – viola, Lexi Nuttal – cello, Ellen Holleman – flute, Bob Prince – clarinet, John Wilson – trumpet, Chris Porter – trombone, Steve Corn and Misty Gaubatz – French horn, Jack Barnings and Alex Petrusaitis – percussion, Robert Thomas – Keyboard bass, Tricie Callaghan-Stover – keyboard.
Acting Coach: April Johnson; Blocking: April Johnson and Peggy Bucheit; Assistant Vocal/Acting Coach: Eric Monson; Choreographer: Stephanie Light assisted by Cherylynn Jessop; Set Designer and foreman: Dave Schlechten; Set Building Carpenters: Kevin Clark, Rick Bucheit, Klint Cleveland, David King, Set Construction: Troy Olbricht, Jim Grable, Paul Gillum, Jim McCrossin, Bill Nelson, Vinny Zepeda, Mr. Bess, Mr. Clancy; Set Art: Dave Schlechten, Katy Majors, Alyssa McCrossin, Finn Belanger, Monica Grable, Hannah Grable.
Light Design and special effects are by Austin Athman.
Sound is directed by Rick Bucheit and assisted by Jennifer Ray.
Seamstresses are Bonnie Wickham, Laura Bess, Marj Guilland, Jen Carmody, Ekle Olbricht, Dulcie Belanger, Joanne Cleveland, Jane Mason; costume organizers are Peggy Bucheit, Bonnie Wickham and Gina Wilson; Backstage Parents are Kee Ostler, Jeff Kern and Jessica Randazzo.
HHS Choir department gives thanks to Tasha Athman Fain for assistance with auditions and private vocal lessons, Bitterroot Ballet, Hamilton Players and MCT for costume loan, Frenchtown High School choral department for the loan of some set pieces and microphones, Cornerstone Church for the Genie Lift, Hamilton Players for fog machines and microphones and Stacie Duce for program and poster art.
Major sponsors are Greg and Beth Behm at Ravalli Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Rapp Family Foundation, Massa Home Center, Evans Ace Hardware, Rocky Mountain Homes, Discovery Care Center and the Living Center.
The music for “Phantom of the Opera” is hauntingly beautiful and very demanding for the musicians and performers.
“Learning the music has been a major struggle, not only in my part, but also for the whole choir in general,” said Carmody. “Phantom of the Opera’s music is amazing but also challenging.”
“Playing the part of Christine has made me a stronger singer; some notes that were difficult to sing, I have no problem with now,” said Carroll.
Bucheit is the driving force behind the musicals produced at Hamilton High School. She devotes her time into helping the students in their singing and crafting a great show. The quality of the performance makes the audience forget these are high school students.
“Mrs. Bucheit is an incredible director and teacher,” said Carroll. “She gives 100 percent to her students and the successful Hamilton High Choral Department. We couldn’t do it without her.”
“I feel the performance will be amazing,” Carmody said. “It will be worth the ticket!”
Phantom of the Opera performances are March 19, 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. and March 22 at 2 p.m. Tickets are on sale at the HHS Office and cost $12 for adults and $5 for students.