Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Manatee Players
Review by William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's recent review of Alabama Story

James Alexander Hyde and Sophia Masterson
Photo by Brian Craft
Anyone hoping to see Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera in regional or community theaters is going to be disappointed, as those rights aren't going to be available anytime soon. Phantom is a different version based on the same source novel and written by Maury Yeston (music and lyrics) and Arthur Kopit (book). Each version has its pluses and minuses; The Phantom of the Opera, emotionally, is almost of opera proportions while this version is more intimate, revealing many details of the characters' backgrounds and even giving the Phantom a name, Erik. I am a big Maury Yeston fan and this is one of his best scores, containing one sensational duet, "Home," excellent solos for the leads, "Without Your Music" for Erik and "My True Love" for Christine, another duet "You Are Music," and a show-stopping comic song for Carlotta, "This Place Is Mine."

Manatee Players' cast is full of excellent voices: James Alexander Hyde as Erik; Sophia Masterson, an actual opera singer, as Christine; Kris Sethi as Carlotta; Chris Caswell as Gerard, the former manager of the Paris Opera House; Tristan Martin as Philippe, the Count de Chandon; and Cory Woomert as Alain Cholet, Carlotta's paramour. The ensemble also sings very well, but the night I saw it the score didn't go soaring, and applause after songs was perfunctory. Perhaps it was a question of exhaustion after a week of tech rehearsals and dress rehearsal, but what I saw on stage simply did not have sustained energy behind it.

Steve Dawson's direction also seemed to suffer from energy deficiency, chases around the opera house looked ragged, as did much of the ensemble movement. Much of the dance work was among the best elements of this production. Scenery by Dan Yerman, lighting design by Joseph P. Oshry and costumes by Becky Evans seem to be victims of end of the season fatigue and do not represent the best this company is capable of. It is impossible to judge the music direction of Aaron Cassette, usually very reliable, which may be suffering from the general fatigue.

I am glad to see Manatee Players offering Phantom as it is a show I like very much. I hope the production improves greatly when the cast is more rested.

Manatee Players presents Phantom through May 8, 2016, at Manatee Center for the Performing Arts, 502 3rd Ave W., Bradenton; 941-748-0111,

Erik: James Alexander Hyde
Christine Daae: Sophia Masterson
Phillippe, The Count de Chandon: Tristan Martin
Gerard Carriere: Chris Caswell
Madame Carlotta: Kris Sethi
Alain Cholet: Cory Woomert
Inspector Ledoux: Mark Eichorn
Jean-Claude: James Olson
Joseph Buquet: D. Callaghan Mayer
Flora: Amelia Woerner
Fleure: Anne Progner
Florence: Taylor Reister
Minister of Culture: Peter O'Malley
Opera Tenors: Peter O'Malley, Jalex Scott
Opera Divas: Alice Byrne, Carol Ciancia
Belladova Dancer: Diana Dizon
Belladova Voice: Amelia Woerner
Young Erik: Jasiu Sebastian Hyde
Young Erik Voice: Maddie Cashen
Oberon: Jalex Scott
Carlotta Staff: Craig Engle, Bradley Keville, Dan Wuethrich
Policeman: Bill Cairo, Bradley Keville, Jalex Scott
Ensemble: Emily Branton, Nancy Brining, Alice Byrne, Bill Cairo, Kaity Cairo, Maddie Cashen, Carol Ciancia, Diana Dizon, Craig Engle, Becky Evans, Tori Greenlaw, Nicolette Huit, Sofia Johnson, Bradley Keville, D. Callaghan Mayer, Ana Moss, Peter O'Malley, James Olson, Anne Progner, Taylor Reister, Anna Grace Robinette, Jalex Scott, Sarah Van Keuren, Amy Woerner, Dan Wuethrich
Ballet Dancers: Emily Branton, Diana Dizon, Sofia Johnson, Ana Moss
You Erik Understudy: Tori Greenlaw

Phantom Orchestra:
Conductor: Keyboard: Aaron Cassette
2nd Keyboard: Teresa O'Connell
Reeds: Teri Booth
Trumpet: Victor Mongillo
Percussion: John Januszewski

Directed by Steve Dawson
Choreographed by Vanessa Russo
Musical Direction by Aaron Cassette
Production Stage Manager: Kristin Ribble
Scenery Designed by Dan Yerman
Lighting Designed by Joseph P. Oshry
Costumes Designed by Becky Evans

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