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U of M Will Present Phantom of the Opera Feb. 16-25, 2012, at Mainstage Theatre University News
For release: November 9, 2010

For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901/678-2843 or
Alice Berry, 901-678-3184

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The Mid-South’s first amateur staging of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s beloved musical, The Phantom of the Opera,will take place early in 2012 as part of the Centennial Celebration of the University of Memphis. Together, the University’s Department of Theatre & Dance and the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music will present Broadway’s longest-running musical February16-25, 2012, on the Mainstage Theatre.

Tickets for the eight performances will go on sale in November 2011. Fall 2011 auditions will be open to the campus; their exact dates will announced at a later time.

Phantom is the largest production to be undertaken by the University, and it is only possible with the additional financial support from the University’s Centennial Campaign. “The University challenged us to ‘dream big’ for its 100th birthday,” said Bob Hetherington, chairman of Theatre and Dance, “and there is no bigger undertaking than Phantom. We are very proud to have been granted the rights to produce this special event, which we hope will show Memphis the very best that the University of Memphis has to offer.”

Phantom’s production at the U of M will capitalize on the mutual successes of the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and the creation of a new undergraduate program in musical theatre in Theatre & Dance that will admit its first incoming class next fall.

This will be the fifth collaboration between the two arts programs in the College of Communication and Fine Arts. Their first was a critically acclaimed production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd in 2000.

The Phantom of the Opera is the most successful work of entertainment of all time, produced in any media, and its success is continuing all over the world. It recently celebrated its 10,000th performance in London. It is estimated that Phantom has been performed in no fewer than 14 languages and has been seen by more than 100 million people worldwide in 149 cities and in more than 25 countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

The show has won more than 50 major theatre awards including three Olivier Awards, the most recent being the 2002 Oliver Audience Award for Most Popular Show; an Evening Standard Award; seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical; seven Drama Desk Awards; and three Outer Critic Circle Awards.

Based on the classic novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Charles Hart, additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe, and a book by Lloyd Webber and Stilgoe. The play tells the story of a masked figure who lurks in the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera House, exercising a reign of terror over all who 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.

"It's a major achievement in the musical theater and a high water mark in the phenomenal Lloyd Webber career,” wrote Richard Hummler in a 1988 issue of Variety. “The bonus this time is that the glittering technical wizardry and pop-opera music have been wedded to a strong story and characters. (It’s a) gloriously old fashioned romantic musical spectacle."

Critic Jack Tinker said in the London Daily Mail in 1986, "Four words sum up the unstoppable success of Andrew Lloyd Webber's triumphant re-working of this vintage spine-tingling melodrama – stars, spectacle, score, and story. Together they add up to that old magic ingredient: theatricality. There is simply nothing on earth to transport you so quickly or so far into fantasy as a feast of illusions."

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