Make no mistake this is no Masquerade, The Maltings Youth Theatre are tackling the musical of all musicals – The Phantom of the Opera.
Never one to do things by halves, director Wendy Payn is celebrating the 20th birthday of her talent breeding ground by putting her cast through arguably theirs and her toughest challenge to date.
Based on the novel ‘La Fantome de l’Opera’ by Gaston Leroux, the long running and award winning musical, which has starred the likes of Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman over the years, tells the story of a masked figure that lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, exercising a reign of terror over all who inhabit it.
And behind the mask for the Youth Theatre is Oliver Payn, last seen as Lord Asriel in both installments of the Youth Theatre’s take on Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’.
He told ‘WOW’ that being handed such an iconic role was a challenge he was enjoying getting stuck into.
“It’s definitely the most demanding role I’ve played to date but it’s also the most enjoyable.
“The show has a very demanding score with some very tricky notes to hit, but it’s full of amazing songs.
“I love ‘Music of the Night’ and ‘Past the Point of No Return’
“I think the production will be a real spectacle and there’s a real buzz about the cast.”
Aiming to hit the high notes as Christine, who the Phantom aims to nurture into an extraordinary talent, is Katie Hindmarsh.
No stranger to to a challenging leading role, in the last few years Katie has wowed as Mary Magdelene in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, Mimi in ‘Rent’ and Dorothy in ‘The Wizard of Oz’.
And like Oliver she is thrilled to be taking on one of musical theatre’s most famous parts.
“It’s an absolute dream come true to be playing Christine,” she enthused.
“Everything from the amazing songs to the costumes I get to wear is fantastic.
“I’m a huge fan of the show anyway and it’s definitely the biggest thing the Youth Theatre has done.
“Rehearsals have been going really well and everyone is in high spirits.
“A show like ‘Phantom’ could probably sell itself but we need to do more than that. It’s a much loved musical and I know of people who are coming along that don’t know anything about the Youth Theatre but are ‘Phantom’ super fans so we need to do it justice.”
Fresh from starring in ‘Medea’ last week, Frazer Smiles is starring as Raoul, a role which will give his singing voice its hardest challenge to date.
“It’s definitely the most singing I’ve done in a show but the music is just phenomenal,” he told ‘WOW’.
“I’m involved in so many songs and I’m on stage an awful lot so there’s been a lot to learn!
“I am feeling a bit of pressure but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I can’t do a show if there’s no pressure at all.”
‘The Phantom of the Opera’ will begin its four night run at The Maltings on Wednesday, November 27 and at the helm once again, Wendy is hoping it will continue the Youth Theatre ‘s fine run of form which has won them rave reviews for the likes of ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ in the last few years.
“Musically and technically it is going to be something special,” she commented.
“It’s a hard show to stage but I’m lucky to once again have an amazing cast.”
The Phantom of the Opera, by Maltings Youth Theatre, runs from Wednesday November 27 to Saturday November 30, at 7.30pm.
Tickets are £12 and £10.