Staff and students at the Elizabethan were overwhelmed when their production of The Phantom of the Opera became a total sell out for all four performances! Neil Brownhill, Head of Expressive Arts at the Academy and director of the show, was not surprised in the slightest. He told us “The Phantom of the Opera was the very first show I saw in the West End and to say that it has had a significant bearing on the path my life has taken would be an understatement. Now, 27 years later, I have had the opportunity to return to the show that inflamed a passion for theatre in myself and watch it do the same for a whole new generation of Drama students”.
Rehearsals started in September for what is one of the biggest shows in musical history. All year, Elizabethan Academy students have been encouraged to “aim high” as part of the Academy’s ASPIRE message… and they don’t come much higher than Phantom!
Acting Principal, Jason White, told us that Phantom was the “perfect showcase for the wide range of talent we have at The Elizabethan – musical, theatrical and artistic.” Indeed, such was the talent on offer that it was possible to double-cast most of the leading roles.
The role of Phantom was shared by Post-16 students Brandon Dodsworth and Evan Horton.
Brandon told us “Phantom has always been a favourite of mine, so I felt really honoured when I heard I’d got the lead role in the Academy’s production, it was a dream come true. The production was a huge challenge for everyone involved and the whole cast worked extremely hard to make the show a roaring success! For me stepping onto the stage at the end of each performance with the rest of team Phantom to a standing-ovation made it all worthwhile.”
Evan whose last venture into musical theatre was several years ago said “I was over the moon when I heard I had got the role of the Phantom and I was looking forward to working on what would be my last production with Mr Brownhill. I felt really proud to have been given the lead in such an iconic musical and proud of all the cast too, who put their heart and soul into making it a huge success! All in all playing the Phantom made it a pleasant return to musical theatre for me.”
With an amazing army of staff, student and parent helpers it wasn’t long before Phantom was ready for opening night. For the first time in the Academy’s history, all four nights were a total pre-show sell out and every evening the audience came away with nothing but the highest praise for the production.
The audience were visibly moved by each performance, with a standing ovation on every single night. Many have since contacted The Elizabethan to pass on their congratulations.
As part of a programme of events to help students make the transition from primary to secondary school, all students in the Academy’s feeder primaries have taken part in an Expressive Arts Day, with a Phantom focus, at The Elizabethan. This saw the students learning routines from the show and designing masks for the Phantom. Having enjoyed the day so much, a group of two dozen students from Everton returned with their teachers for Phantom’s opening night. Adam Boddy said “The Phantom of the Opera was 'amazing'! Realistic, convincing characters gave us a variety of emotions; sadness, fear, happiness, confusion. The teenagers looked like they had been doing it for years.”
Acting Principal, Jason White, said he was “incredibly proud” of all those who had taken part in the production. “In 25 years of watching school productions, I have never seen anything like our performances of Phantom. I have the greatest respect for all those involved.
The Elizabethan Academy Trust is an exempt charity and a company limited by guarantee, registered in England with Company Number 7964360 and has a registered office at Hallcroft Road, Retford, Notts. DN22 7PY