Wednesday, June 29, 2016

'AN EVENING WITH THE PHANTOM' creating many memories.

 A Spectacular Masquerade Ball
By Susan Walker

After hearing Andrew Lloyd Webber's mesmerising music from 'The Phantom of the Opera', its power and beauty are not forgotten in a hurry.   Such was the case with captive audiences when the Esk Community Choir performed 'An Evening With The Phantom' at the Somerset Civic Centre in Esk, the Gatton Shire Hall and Toogoolawah's Alexandra Hall, where stages were cleverly transformed to replicate the Opéra de Paris and together with a narration, beautiful accompaniment on piano, violin and guitar and a cast of colourful characters and costumes, this magnificent love story was again brought to life.

Emily FitzGerald
With Narrator, John Hooper at the lectern, he eloquently began creating the scene for Emily FitzGerald's opening song, 'Think of Me', and her voice truly that of the Angel her character Christine Daae was purported to be.  As the story unfolded with beautiful songs interwoven through further narration, other members of the Choir in the roles of Christine, Raoul, Meg Giry, Carlotta,  Armand and Firmin, the New Managers, the Opera Chorus and not forgetting The Phantom himself, created an unforgettable canvas of intense, intimate and colourful performances.

The Phantom - Phil Caffin
Christine Daae's torment which lay between love and loyalty was further told through Susie Walker and Nola Niemeyer's tender rendition of 'Angel of Music' which heralded the voice of Bob Hardy in the role of The Phantom.  Phil Caffin as The Phantom then implored his Christine to trust, to feel, to sense, to surround herself with the 'Music of the Night'.

With a change of pace, Eric Von Nida and Roger Woodman aka the new Managers along with  Steve Cox as Raoul burst on stage perplexed and questioning the demands through letters written by the Phantom only to have the Company's self obsessed 'Prima Donna', Carlotta,  brilliantly characterized by Kathleen Watts, settle the score in song.  
Soothing Carlotta's shattered ego - Eric, Kathleen and Roger

 With Christine now terrified and confused, Bob Hardy as her friend, Raoul, professed to her his protection and love and with Christine, at different times portrayed by  Susie Walker and Carolyn King, performed with passion the quintessential 'Phantom'  duet 'All I Ask of You'.   In a climactic act of heartbreak, fury and revenge and a perfect avenue to interval, menacing sights and sounds descended the stage as The Phantom's threats were seen to be carried out.

The choir with the magnificent Chandelier constructed by Tom Byrne

And it is at this interval that mention must be made of perhaps the real star of the show, the one who became the focus throughout the performances.  The Chandelier...that magnificent complex cobweb of beads which shone like morning dew and lights that illuminated centre stage in so many ways at each of the performance venues.  Breathtaking special effects were no less felt at each of the venues than they would have been anywhere in the world...give or take a few hundred thousand dollars disparity in budgets.  For this creation and his other design effects which majestically brought life to this story on every stage go glorious accolades to Tom Byrne whose obvious talents and the gifts of his time were priceless.
A Grand Entrance for the Masquerade Party.

Interval over, raffles drawn, and it was gala 'party time' with a melange of magnificently masked
costumed Choir members meandering onto the stage for the celebratory 'Masquerade'.  Singing the beautiful 'Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again', Maree Lansdown as Christine gave an impassioned plea to her now departed father to enable her the strength let go of the say goodbye.  With an outpouring of emotion Carolyn and Lloyd King gave a moving portrayal of 'Point of No Return',   the Phantom's last bid to win over his love, culminating in the chorus by the entire Company on stage.  Finally, capitulation by The Phantom bringing to an end 'The Music of the Night'.

For the Esk Community Choir to undertake a production of this magnitude is a daunting task for to get it right is to honour the creators of the original amazing score.  And so it is to those who made this event possible that we of the Choir are truly indebted. To Alexis, Margaret, Iain, Lucy and Logan, the musicians whose faultless accompaniment added so much richness to the singing;  to Carolyn and her team for the breathtaking costumes;  Kathleen for her design and stagecraft strategies; Tom who deserves a second mention for his fabulous set designs; Lynette for her artwork on the Banner; to photographer, Darryl Green for his professionalism in capturing special moments for posterity; to Kerry Corbett for her craft talent in creating the masks that adorned the halls and foyers; to the sound and lighting teams who make us sound and look so much more than we can hope to be; and the catering crew led by Sue Cox who have kept our culinary reputation in tact; and finally, but by no means least, to Alexis FitzGerald OAM who throughout the weeks and months had nothing but high praise for her Choir stating 'this time the Choir has EXCELLED themselves'; who constantly feeds our souls with beautiful music in all its forms and in doing so, transforms lives.
The Managers - Steve Cox, Eric von Nida and Roger Woodman

Pat the Point of no Return - Carolyn and Lloyd King

John Hooper
Nola, Bob and Susan
The Phantom - Bob Hardy
The Orchestra in rehearsal: -
Logan McIvor, Iain Maclean, Margaret Philp and Alexis FitzGerald OAM

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