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‘The Phantom of the Opera’ to fill Columbus with music of the night

March 4, 2014

etchison.4@osu.edu
Cooper Grodin as The Phantom and Julia Udine as Christine Daaé in a scene from the North American tour of 'The Phantom of the Opera,' which is set to run at the Ohio Theatre March 5-16. Credit: Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

Cooper Grodin (left) as The Phantom and Julia Udine as Christine Daaé in a scene from the North American tour of ‘The Phantom of the Opera,’ which is set to run at the Ohio Theatre March 5-16.
Credit: Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

The Ohio Theatre is set to resound with “the music of the night” as a newly reimagined production of “The Phantom of the Opera” takes center stage in Columbus.

The production, slated to run at the Central Ohio venue from March 5-16, is set to feature new scenic design and staging, as well as new choreography and special effects, according to the touring production’s website.

Despite these changes, many aspects of the production remain true to the original show, said Hannah Florence, a cast member in the current North American tour.

“Audiences who are familiar with the original Broadway version can expect the same beautiful music, the same score, the same costumes and the same ‘wow factor’ spectacle that you get wherever you see the show,” Florence said.

Florence plays Meg Giry, a ballet dancer at the Paris Opera House and female protagonist Christine Daaé’s close friend and confidant.

“She is kind of that best friend of Christine’s who kind of pushes her friend into places that she doesn’t necessarily want to go to, but that’s sort of where Christine ends up needing to be,” Florence said of her character.

Having taken ballet from a young age, Florence, who studied musical theatre at New York University, said her love of dancing is only one aspect of her personality that connects to her portrayal of Giry.

“My personality does fit Meg in that I am a ballet dancer who kind of ends up being more of an actor than I thought I would be,” Florence explained. “I think I really fit Meg in that I always want to know what’s going on. She is pretty much like that as well.”

Florence said she joined the production in October.

Prior to joining the show, Florence said she was unfamiliar with the production, but has enjoyed learning more about the storyline and characters while performing on tour.

“It’s kind of fun when your career introduces you to new things that maybe you hadn’t been so familiar with (before),” she said. “I personally wasn’t totally obsessed with (‘The Phantom of the Opera’), but I like that this process allows me to get to know the show really well.”

Based on a 1911 novel by French author Gaston Leroux, “The Phantom of the Opera” debuted in London in 1986 and continues to be performed throughout the world in six different productions. The New York City production currently holds the title of “Broadway’s longest running musical,” according to “The Phantom of the Opera” website.

The long-running production has garnered a large following of fans, who often refer to themselves as “phans,” Florence said.

“There are such dedicated ‘phans’ to ‘The Phantom of the Opera,’ that it can be possibly scary or daunting just because it is such an iconic show,” she said. “Conversely, the fun part of ‘phans’ loving the show so much is audiences are pretty much always fantastic, and they seem to really embrace the show.”

Bringing the “best of Broadway” to Columbus has been one of the main functions of the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts, Rolanda Copley, publicist for CAPA, said in an email.

“Columbus loves Broadway,” Copley said. “Part of CAPA’s mission is to bring the world to our stages, and these Broadway productions are touring the world over. Columbus gets the opportunity to see what the world is talking about.”

Colin Young, a first-year in anthropological sciences, said he is looking forward to watching “The Phantom of the Opera,” in Columbus as he has never seen the production before.

“I was the Phantom of the Opera (for Halloween) when I was little … I must’ve been like 6 or 7, but I never have seen (the production),” he said. “(I am excited for) any excuse to go to the Ohio Theatre. I love the Ohio Theatre.”

Audrey Flood, a first-year in psychology, said she has previously seen “The Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway and is looking forward to watching the new production.

“I’m excited that it’s right here in Columbus, so close to campus,” she said. “I’ve heard that the costumes are amazing and it’s a large production and it should be a great show.”

Florence said she hopes the new production meets the expectations of “phans,” especially with the new choreography and staging featured in many of the show’s iconic scenes.

“I’d say that my ultimate favorite part of the show is just the entire opening sequence,” she said. “I think it’s magnificent visually and just very powerful music-wise. The beginning sequence also showcases our new choreography and I think it is just really, really fun.”

The current North American touring production of “The Phantom of the Opera” features a 52-person cast and orchestra, according to the production website.

Florence said performing in such a large-scale show is a “dream come true.”

“I’ve always loved performing,” she said. “I laugh about the fact that I am playing a ballerina. When I was little, I wanted to become a ballerina and now I am pretending to be a ballerina on stage. So that’s really fun for me.”

The Ohio Theatre is located at 39 E. State St. Tickets start at $48 and are available through the CAPA Ticket Center and Ticketmaster.


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