News from the Tennessee Valley Diversions

‘Phantom of the Opera’ opens in Birmingham

By Patrice Stewart · 340-2446

“The Phantom of the Opera” opened Wednesday for a three-week run at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Concert Hall.

A variety of evening and matinee performances are planned through Oct. 28, with special opening week and student prices.

As part of its 2007-08 season, Broadway across America is sponsoring the Cameron Mackintosh Really Useful Theatre Company Inc. production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous “Phantom” musical.

This musical surpassed “Cats” as Broadway’s longest running show in 2006.

Based on the classic novel “Le Fantôme de l’Opéra” by Gaston Leroux, “The Phantom of the Opera” tells the story of a masked figure that lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, exercising a reign of terror over all that inhabit it.

He falls madly in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine, and devotes himself to creating a new star by nurturing her extraordinary talents and by employing all of the devious methods at his command.

John Cudia heads the 36-member company as The Phantom. Sara Jean Ford will play the young soprano, Christine, with Greg Mills as Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny. Sarah Lawrence will play the role of Christine at some performances.

The elaborate set includes the gold-faced Paris Opera House proscenium, from which the Phantom appears and disappears during the performance, and the 10-foot high, half-ton chandelier that crashes onto the stage from the theatre ceiling regularly as part of the script. It took five scenery shops more than three months to construct this chandelier, which contains more than 35,000 beads.

Performances are Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. and Sunday evenings at 6:30 p.m., with matinees on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Regular price tickets range from $17 to $67, with reduced prices for all performances opening week. Tickets are available by calling Ticketmaster at (205) 715-6000 or (800) 277-1700 or online at www. ticketmaster. com.

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