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"The Phantom of the Opera" comes to Dog Story Theater

A brand new stage adaptation of the classic novel, "The Phantom of the Opera" by Gaston Leroux. The tragic love story of the Opera Ghost is reimagined in this bold, new, non-musical play.
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More information and ticket access is available on our website.

/Scott Baisden

FOX17 Morning Mix

FOX17 Morning Mix /FOX17

First day of rehearsal with the cast and crew

First day of rehearsal with the cast and crew /University Wits

The University Wits is a collective of theatrical designers, directors, and talented performers. They are best known for creating original works as well as producing published classics. Their upcoming production “The Phantom of the Opera” is an adapted play by Kyle Walker. Performances for this new adaptation will be January 22, 23 at 8 p.m. and January 23, 24 at 3 p.m. at Dog Story Theater on 7 Jefferson Ave.

Past productions from The University Wits include original collections of “Marilyn's Kennedy,” “In a Single Bound,” “The Sixth Guest,” and “Shadows at the Sanford,” and published works such as “The Rocky Horror Show,” “Lucky Stiff,” and “Barefoot in the Park.”

“I have loved the story of “The Phantom of the Opera” since I was very little and have watched all of the stage and film versions I could possibly find” says writer/director Kyle Walker. “But they all stray pretty far from the original novel by Gaston Leroux. I wanted to make a version that is based and inspired heavily upon the novel... the story lends itself very naturally to a stage adaptation.”

Grand Valley State University alumnus, Kyle Walker, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Theatre. Walker is a co-founding member and the Treasurer of The University Wits theatre company and has been involved in the Grand Rapids theater community for over five years. This is the fourth show that he has written and directed for The University Wits. Walker is excited to bring the classic story of “The Phantom of the Opera” to the Dog Story Theater stage.

In talking about his research and process Walker said that he focused on learning as much as he could about Gaston Leroux and Lon Chaney to the point that he had the opportunity to meet and speak to Lon Chaney’s great-grandson this past summer. “He was able to point me to some good research and sources into Lon’s life” shared Walker.

“I took a lot of inspiration from the 1925 silent movie classic starring Lon Chaney Sr” says Walker. A fictional meeting takes place when the story of the play begins with Lon Chaney and Gaston Leroux. The play is then told as a narrative by Gaston.

Most people know “The Phantom of the Opera” as the beloved musical, though the original novel is written through a series of first person accounts, letters, and correspondences. “So the musical aspect of the novel is told as more of a narrative...” says Walker “However, we do have a music element to our play.” Todd Lewis, a local composer, is writing original background/score music for the play.

Grand Rapids native, Todd Lewis, studied Music Theatre at Grand Valley State University. He is a composer, writer, director, photographer, cinematographer, actor, filmmaker and other great talents. His composing skills are self-taught and some of his highlighted works include original music for “Wait Until Dark” and “Noises Off.”

“Getting to compose original underscoring music for Phantom is a dream come true,” says Lewis. “There have been so many different artistic representations of this story, and getting to add my creative musical concepts to it is an honor... I only hope it lives up to the rest of the production.”

Lewis chose the theme of “love” for this story rather than taking a darker route as one might predict.

“At it's heart, this is a love story first, I feel, so getting a good theme that will work as a love theme was paramount," he says. "Much easier to start with the romantic theme and go dark with it than the other way around.”

“The Phantom has always been portrayed as either a sympathetic character or a villainous monster, but I wanted to present him as both,” says Walker. “While the Phantom is the only one hiding behind a mask, in many ways each character has a mask of their own.”

The cast includes: Mark Moran. Scott Baisden. Danielle “elle” Lucksted. Zachary Carlton Johnson.
Matthew Gommesen. Matthew Walker. Michael Duane Pollock. J.J. Lindke. Ashley F. Vierson.
Mary Mcguire Howing. Anessa Johnson. Sarah Zorn. Taylor Emmons.

Tickets are available at the door and online. Prices range between $12 (Students & Seniors) and $16 (General Admission). Additional ticket information on our website

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