Earlston pupils’ performance ensures that Phantom is the real deal

Earlston High School - Phantom of the Opera
Earlston High School - Phantom of the Opera

The programme for the Earlston High School 2016 production of Phantom of the Opera welcomed the audience to a “spectacular performance”.

What an understatement! Spectacular, brilliant, fabulous, fantastic, unbelievable, awesome – none of those words do justice to the incredible performance witnessed.

Phantom of the Opera is based on a book by Gaston Leroux and the music written by Andrew Lloyd Webber. His music is very different from that to which the young members of the senior choir are accustomed, but you would never have known that.

The story takes place in the Paris Opera House which has a “ghost”, a man deformed from birth who lives in the labyrinth of the premises.

He is a music composer and he falls in love with Christine Daae, a young chorus singer and he tutors her privately. He makes many demands on the new owners of the opera house with the promise of drastic consequences if his wishes were not carried out. His main wish is that Christine is given the leading roles in many of the operas. When his orders were disobeyed, he caused the chandelier to crash to the floor and caused leading soprano Carlotta Guidicelli to develop a voice like a toad.

At a gala performance to celebrate the reopening of the building, a childhood friend of Christine’s, Raoul, Vicompte de Chagny reintroduces himself and their love is rekindled. When the phantom discovers this he becomes angry and jealous, and kidnaps Christine for himself. It is then up to Raoul to rescue her.

The Phantom was played to perfection by Lewis Wilde. His singing and acting stole the show – a truly outstanding performance. His strong voice revelled in the numbers “Phantom of the Opera”, “Music of the Night” and in his duet with Christine, “Point of No Return”.

Christine, played by Ella Inglis, charmed the audience. With her beautiful soprano voice, she most certainly was the “Angel of Music” and reduced the audience to tears with her haunting rendition of “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again”.

Another rising star, Gareth Williams, played the love stricken, but also heroic Raoul. With his dashing good looks and rich, powerful voice, not only did Christine fall in love with him, but females in the audience did too. His duet with Christine, “All I Ask of You”, one of the most popular songs of the show, was superb.

Josephine Paterson (Madame Giry) delivered a very mature performance and had a significant presence on stage. Another strong voice (where do they all come from?), and she was ably supported by Amy Thomson who played her daughter, Meg.

Mitchell Green and Gregor Milligan, as Monsieur Firmin and Monsieur Andre respectively, provided much of the humour. Their nervous actions, panic and indecision kept the audience laughing. Finlay Anderson (Ubaldo Piangi) also provided some light relief as the rather ageing, pathetic counterpart to overpowering prima donna Carlotta, convincingly portrayed by Mhairi Chirnsidey.

Everyone on stage gave their all, singing and dancing their way through this highly-acclaimed West End show, with a few younger members setting a benchmark for future school productions

Beautiful costumes, especially in Masquerade, slick scene changes, special visual effects, special sound effects and excellent lighting all contributed to the chilling, eerie, mysterious atmosphere – in fact it was hard to believe that we were sitting in Earlston High School hall. The audience had definitely been transported to the Paris opera house.

Musical director, producer and choreographer was Jeff Thomson, choreographer Jan Baird and stage manager Roan Torrance.

The result – standing ovations every performance and the “best ever” show yet.