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Wed, Nov. 20

Witucki: Get out your hankies; Phantom arrives at college

It may seem foolish to write a review of a production that I haven’t seen yet. But let me explain why I think an upcoming show at Yavapai College is probably going to be pretty good.

Several years ago I was walking through a video rental store (yes, it was that long ago), and I happened upon the movie version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera.” I had never seen the play, but I had heard and enjoyed a few of the songs, so on a whim I rented the DVD and watched it that evening.

A few hours later, after the tears had pretty much subsided, I sat there in disbelief. The story, the songs — were they really as good as I thought they were? I watched it again later, and yes, they were. It became a favorite film, and the play itself is probably my favorite musical theatre production of all.

Since that time, I have seen clips from other Phantom productions (notably the Albert Hall performance, which was also released on DVD), and at one point I did get to see it live. Each production was a bit different of course, and each one could be said to have good points and poor points. But the basic core was always the same, and that is what shines through, even if the singing is off, or someone misses a cue, or the candles don’t look right.

Actually, criticizing “Phantom” has been a long tradition. There are people who have chosen certain actors as their favorites, and they criticize everyone else who dares to take on those roles. That isn’t fair, regardless of how great those actors were. We will never see the original actors who played in “Romeo and Juliet,” but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy the play now.

One of the “Phantom” clips that I watched online was from a high school performance. You might not think that a high school would be able to pull off such a complicated production, but they did very well with what they had. Those who would criticize such a show for its imperfections probably would find something wrong with any production of “Phantom.” If you look for something wrong with anything, you will likely find it.

I recently got to peek inside the theatre at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. It’s quite impressive — big, but not too big. It would be a great place to see any show, and the fact that the Phantom is in town just gives me a good excuse.

Visit our website at dcourier.com for more information about the production. I’m not much of a gambler, but I think it’s a fairly safe bet that “Phantom” is going to be a great show. It always has been.

Steve Witucki is community editor for The Daily Courier of the Prescott News Network. Email him at switucki@prescottaz.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1104.

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