Review: Stirring production of 'Phantom of the Opera' at Taylor High School

Forlorn, romantic and intelligent, the man behind the mask is much more than meets the eye. Today, many people are judged and labeled for their mask or outward appearance that shrouds the inner self.  Taylor High School’s production of “The Phantom of the Opera” directed by Bret Albright and Allison Heisel is just such a tale that heaves with fear, desire and drama that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat.

This musical is based on the novel by Gaston Leroux, in which a young singer, known as Christine Daaé, discovers the secret of the Paris Opera House. In the underbelly of the theater lives a masked phantom that haunts the Opera House. Christine finds herself drawn to this man of the shadows, despite his deformed face behind the mask. However, Christine is torn between the Phantom and Raoul, a past lover. Thus, the Phantom wreaks havoc on the opera house in murderous desperation to win over his protégée and heart’s desire.

Taylor High School’s production of this well known and loved show was quite an undertaking. Regardless, the performers and crew brought forth an excellent reproduction of the Broadway show. Lead and supporting roles were actively consumed by their characters and brought forth an emotional and engaging show. From the lifelike elephant in the beginning to the dramatic disappearing act of the Phantom in the end, the effort and dedication of these students showed brightly in each detail behind the curtain.

The performances of the lead actors were exceptionally moving. The Phantom’s (Nick Wasserbauer) role could have been particularly trying; nevertheless, Wasserbauer’s portrayal of the Phantom’s emotions through falling upon the floor when in most pain inflicted great sympathy upon the audience. Ringing out through the theater, Christine Daaé’s (Alyssa Batsakis) voice was also powerful and enduring through her 11 scenes. 

Not a single character neglected to add excitement. The Ballet Chorus, specifically Scott Hannum, Stacy Nuss, and Abby Parrigan were graceful and captivating as the glided around the stage. These dancers were not only a joy to observe, but were en pointe throughout their entire performances.

The technical aspects of the musical were parallel in skill to the actors and actresses performing. The props set the mood particularly well in Phantom’s lair under the opera house and at the grave of Christine’s father. They utilized lighting, fog and pyrotechnics along with the well-built props. For example, the boat in the Phantom’s lair moved smoothly across the stage draped in black fabric that added to the eerie atmosphere. Additionally, flashing lights were in time with the clear music and bursts of fire from their pyrotechnics engaged the audience in dramatic scenes.

The production of “The Phantom of the Opera” was an incredible journey of music, light, sound and emotion. Taylor High School earned its standing ovation with a nearly flawless production that unveiled the man behind and mask. 

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