When it came time to select a musical for Barren County High School’s spring production, Glenna Gardner’s students told her they wanted to do “The Phantom of the Opera.”
“I was very hesitant,” Gardner said.
“The Phantom of the Opera” is her favorite musical, so she was familiar with the production, but she wasn’t sure the students could pull it off.
“They convinced me that this is what we needed to do and they really took ownership of it once we decided ‘Phantom of the Opera’ would be our spring production,” she said.
It was the quality of the vocal talent available among the students that persuaded Gardner to do the musical.
The students chose to do the full Broadway production of the musical, which has not been attempted by any other high school in the area, Gardner said.
Putting the show together has been challenging.
“Had I known how difficult ‘Phantom of the Opera’ was going to be to put together, I’m not sure I would have tackled it,” she said. “But now that I’m on the back side of it, we’ve survived it.”
Playing the lead male role, the phantom, is Braxton Smith, a senior, who said he loved the music in the show the first time he heard it.
“When I heard the music and listened to the story line, I kind of fell in love with the play and knew I wanted to be involved as much as possible,” he said.
In 2013, Smith portrayed Gaston in the school’s production of “Beauty and the Beast.” The phantom is a different type of character than Gaston, who Smith described as being “a big egomaniac, macho man.”
“The phantom is a lot more laid back and he’s a lot more emotional,” he said. “He really just puts a lot of heart into everything he does. It’s different. It’s a lot of fun.”
Smith loves to sing and said his favorite song he performs in the musical is “Music of the Night.”
“That song really encompasses everything that the phantom feels for the girl he is in love with,” he said. “He shows all of his emotions for her, his hate that he knows he can’t be with her. He just pours his heart out to her.”
Playing, Christine, the female lead in the production is Bailey Birge, also a senior.
“It has always been my life-long dream to be Christine in the ‘Phantom of the Opera,’” she said. “I saw this production when I was very little at TPAC [Tennessee Performing Arts Center] and I fell in love with the show. I always wanted to do it. It’s just an honor to finally be in this role.”
Birge describes Christine to be very wishy-washy when comparing her to characters she has portrayed in other productions.
“She’s a very sweet girl with a powerful voice,” she said. “I really enjoyed playing this.”
As for her favorite song, Birge said it is “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again.”
She likes the song, she said, because, “It’s so fun with all the notes. I enjoy the range that is in the song.”
“The Phantom of the Opera” will be presented at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday at the school. Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased at the door.
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