By Eva Petersen
Special to the News-Press
The lights came up, the dramatic overture began, and the infamous chandelier slowly rose to the ceiling. Hearts couldn’t help but beat a little faster. So began George Mason High School’s romantic and intriguing performance of The Phantom of the Opera. The show featured a superior combination of talent and technical marvels. Riveting music and astounding special effects made for a rapturous evening of wonder and left the audience cheering with ebullience.
The Phantom of the Opera was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1986, based on the French novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux. Taking place in a Parisian opera house in 1881, the well-known story revolves around a disfigured and mysterious musical genius and his obsession with a young soprano whom he takes under his wing. The show is perhaps most famous for its special effects, most notably the falling chandelier at the conclusion of Act I. It is the longest running Broadway show in history, the first production ever to surpass 10,000 performances. The Phantom of the Opera has grossed over $5.6 billion worldwide, further proving its immense popularity.
Anchoring George Mason High School’s production of The Phantom of the Opera were the fantastic special effects. The excellent fly system took on the tough task of making incredibly large props fall from the ceiling with aplomb. The well timed “drops” were brilliantly heart-stopping.
The Phantom was portrayed with scary passion and intensity by George Castillo. Playing Christine Daaé was the lovely soprano Alexandra Smith, whose technical skill elevated the show as a whole. Her voice was most beautifully exhibited in the songs “Think of Me” and “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again.” The fantastic chemistry of the two leads gave the show a heart-wrenching credibility.
Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny was played by Arijeet Sensharma with a tenderness that perfectly contrasted the Phantom. His duets with Smith as Christine were beautiful and sweet. Gabe Brown, in the role of Meg Giry, elevated every scene with her lovely voice and convincing acting. August Wilson, who had multiple comedic roles throughout the show, stole every scene he was in with his funny facial expressions and hilarious voice.
George Mason High School’s production of The Phantom of the Opera was a technical success. Along with the aforementioned fly system, the technical elements added to the overall strength of the show. Effective lighting set the mood for every scene, whether it be the vibrant colors of the masquerade ball or the darkness of the Daaé family tomb. The makeup team showed a wide range of skill, from the gruesomely realistic disfigurement of the Phantom to the funny, mask-like face of Don Attilo in the opera-within-an-opera, Il Muto.
George Mason High School took on The Phantom of the Opera, a very technically-tough show, with much skill and passion. Astounding special effects and some strong performers made the show delightfully intriguing and darkly enchanting.