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updated: 11/3/2010 11:21 AM

'Phantom of the Opera' takes stage at North Central College

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  • Angie Snodgrass of Naperville is one of two actresses playing Christine in North Central College's production of "The Phantom of the Opera." Six performances are being staged tonight through Sunday.

      Angie Snodgrass of Naperville is one of two actresses playing Christine in North Central College's production of "The Phantom of the Opera." Six performances are being staged tonight through Sunday.
    Courtesy of North Central College

  • North Central's production of "Phantom" includes stunning costumes and sets.

      North Central's production of "Phantom" includes stunning costumes and sets.
    Courtesy of North Central College

  • Tanner Smale of Elkhart, Ind., plays the lead in North Central College's production of "The Phantom of the Opera."

      Tanner Smale of Elkhart, Ind., plays the lead in North Central College's production of "The Phantom of the Opera."
    Courtesy North Central College

 
 

A chandelier drop. A smoke-filled lair. A mirror revealing the "Angel of Music."

All the classic scenes from "The Phantom of the Opera" will come to life beginning tonight and through the weekend on stage at Naperville's North Central College.

It's one of the first times the musical will be performed by a college drama troupe anywhere in the country after the production rights recently became available for educational institutions.

The show takes center stage at 8 p.m. today at Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave., Naperville. Performances also are slated for 7:30 p.m. Friday to Sunday, and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

North Central's Fine Arts Director Brian Lynch serves as the musical's director and choreographer. He said he always has wanted to be a part of "Phantom" and couldn't be more pleased with the show's 36 cast members.

"They come in early for rehearsals and warm up on their own," he said. "They'll be up on stage practicing scenes and dance numbers on their own without me being there because they want them to be perfect."

The musical was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe. It's based on the novel by French writer Gaston Leroux, which tells the story of a masked figure who lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House and falls in love with a young soprano named Christine.

Tanner Smale, a 20-year-old junior majoring in music theater from Elkhart, Ind., plays the Phantom in North Central's show.

"I'm freaking out a little bit, but I'm totally excited," he said about the performances. "I'm usually not cast as this kind of character, so it's out of my norm."

Christine's childhood friend and love interest, Raoul, is played by Garrett Lutz of Aurora, a 21-year-old junior majoring in musical theater who said the show can appeal to a variety of audiences.

"It's great show, it's got a lot to offer," he said. "You've got a little comedy, you've got drama, you've got action all smashed in there. There's kind of something for everybody."

The cast has been practicing four nights a week for three hours a night since mid-September, a schedule the actors agree makes balancing school and "Phantom" a tough task.

"There's times when I just want to come home from rehearsal and go to sleep, rather than actually being a responsible student," Lutz said. "But I do what I can."

Naperville resident Angie Snodgrass, a 22-year-old junior who plays Christine, agrees that having classes, multiple jobs on campus and an internship this semester makes it hard to throw rehearsals into the mix.

"I'm not quite sure how it works," she said with a laugh. "I just take it one day at a time and I have to allow myself an hour or a couple of hours here and there to relax and give myself some me time.

"I'm very busy, much like the rest of the cast, but it works because we love what we do," she said. "We really enjoy it."

Smale said Lynch's high expectations for the actors which includes that they go to every class and keep up their grade-point average is what drives students to make the show as perfect as possible.

"When people come (Lynch) doesn't want them to say 'Oh, that was pretty good for a college show,'" Smale said. "He wants them to say 'That could have been professional, that could have been on Broadway,' and that's something we put great pride into here at North Central."

Snodgrass agrees and credits her director for a job well done.

"Brian Lynch always puts together wonderfully professional shows and this one is no different," Snodgrass said.

The musical runs about two hours and 15 minutes with intermission.

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