Elgin native and professional actor Andy Bero returns to his hometown to star in the Elgin Community College production of "The Phantom of the Opera."
The Kane County premiere of the longest-running musical in Broadway history will be presented Sept. 16-25 at the Elgin Community College's Blizzard Theatre, 1700 Spartan Drive in Elgin. Performances will be 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays.
To mark the beginning of its 25th anniversary season, the board of directors of Children's Theatre of Elgin wanted to celebrate by inviting alumni back to perform alongside talented local high school and college students in the most beloved musical of all time.
"My best memories and some of my best friends are from my time with CTE," Andy said. "I'm proud to have made a full circle with this production of 'Phantom of the Opera'."
When Andy was in sixth grade, he and his family attended a performance of "Phantom," and it was there that his love of theater and music, and his goal to become an actor, was born. Andy attended Central High School in Burlington with his friend, Chris Cherry. Andy and Chris participated in high school drama productions, and then, together, attended Millikin University in Decatur, Ill.
After graduation, Andy moved to New York and was fortunate to sign with a theatrical agent. Steady work followed in more than a dozen regional productions, including "Grease," "Oklahoma," "Taming of the Shrew," and "The Great American Songbook." Additionally, he performed in two national Broadway touring shows: "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Wonderful Town." He also performed with Cirque du Soleil.
"I would consider myself an artist," the 29 year-old actor said, when asked about his acting philosophy. On FVTC, he adds, "They gave me an outlet, when I did not have one."
With music written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Charles Hart, "The Phantom of the Opera" tells the story of a disfigured musical genius living in the catacombs of the Paris Opera House. His obsessive love for the beautiful young soprano, Christine, creates a frightening rage. This haunting and romantic musical has been captivating audiences for 25 years and has been seen by a billion people worldwide.
Joining Andy in this production is his childhood friend, Chris Cherry, as vocal director and in the role of Firmin. Chris is also the choir director at Hampshire High School. Chris' sister, Allison Cherry, who is also a CTE/FVTC graduate, is the assistant director.
Alumna Andrea Leith is the choreographer. Her resume includes dancing on the big piano at FAO Schwartz in NYC and on the "Grandeur of the Seas" cruise ship. She has a degree in dance performance and choreography from the University of Illinois.
"Phantom" is directed by CTE/FVTC's Artistic Director-Drama, Tish Lyon, who is a member of the adjunct faculty at Elgin Community College and McHenry Community College. The show is produced by CTE/FVTC co-founder, Peter Akemann.
The Fox Valley Theatre Company was formed in 1993 to expand the opportunities for graduates of the Children's Theatre of Elgin. CTE was founded in 1988 and has become one of Illinois' largest and most acclaimed children's theater companies. FVTC present one show each fall and joins with CTE in a summer song-and-dance extravaganza.
Tickets to "The Phantom of the Opera" are $12 adults/$10 students and seniors, available through the ECC Arts Center Box Office by calling (847) 622-0300 or online at www.elgin.edu/community.
Children's Theatre of Elgin/Fox Valley Theatre Company is an Illinois nonprofit corporation in-residence at Elgin Community College. Its programs are also funded in part by the Illinois Arts Council, Grand Victoria Foundation, Palmer Foundation, and a special grant from EFS Foundation.