Complete with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous tunes and a chandelier crashing to the floor, Glenbrook North and South’s production of Phantom of the Opera will be the first in the north suburbs.
Opening this week, the play was an obvious choice for directors Chad Davidson and Julie Robinson. Rights to the Webber version only became available to high schools last year. And because the play calls for nearly 100 parts, it was perfect for the joint production by both high schools.
Although the music is technically difficult, and the show requires students to sing almost the entire time, Davidson says those challenges were no object.
“The stars aligned, and we realized we had the talent to do this,” he said. “We’ve had incredible participation this year.”
The play makes use of two casts combining students from both schools. One cast performs on Wednesday and Friday, while the other performs on Thursday and Saturday.
Glenbrook North senior Megan Orticelli and Glenbrook South’s Katherine Loiselle will each play the lead female role as Christine, an opera singer with whom the Phantom falls in love.
“Megan is going to major in opera performance at Oberlin College,” notes Davidson. “It’s one of the top colleges for vocal performances in particular.”
Glenbrook South’s Tim Kirby and Glenbrook North’s Nathan Salstone play opposite Orticelli as the Phantom. Other leads include Murray Campbell and Aaron Kohrs as Christine’s love interest, Glenbrook North’s Julia Levinson and Erin Helgeland as the opera singer Carlotta, and GBN senior Jordy Shulman as the opera singer Ubaldo Piangi.
Glenbrook North senior and football team captain Mike Ermel plays Monsieur Firmin, one of the male comedic leads. Ermel was recruited by several different colleges to play football, but he limited his choices to schools where he could not only play football but also study theater, according to Davidson. He will attend North Central College in Naperville.
“You don’t see very many theater majors who are 6’5” and 275,” comments Davidson.
The joint musical is a long-running tradition in District 225. It was started in the early 70s because Glenbrook North did not have an auditorium, and because participation in music and drama was small at the time. Now, however, finding participants is obviously not a problem.
All told, there are 93 actors in the cast, 54 musicians in the pit and some 20 to 25 students working crew, according to Davidson. More than 175 students tried out for a part.
The musical is an opportunity not just for students to show off their talents but also for kids at both high schools to come.
“We frequently see [Glenbrook South] on the football field, or in other sorts of competitive events, but this is one of a very few handful of things we do together,” Davidson said. “Obviously, it’s special, because the kids get to work with students from the other schools that they wouldn’t ordinarily.”
Tickets to the musical are nearly sold out, but as of this afternoon, there were a handful of seats available for purchase at seatyourself.biz/gbn. The musical will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at the Sheely Center for Performing Arts at Glenbrook North.