NYC Students See Behind the Scenes of 'The Phantom of the Opera'
By Jaime Bonchick

NYC Students See Behind the Scenes of 'The Phantom of the Opera'

July 12, 2017   |   Local News - Manhattan  

Inside Broadway’s “Creating the Magic” program recently gave students the opportunity to see the behind-the-scenes workings of Broadway’s longest-running show The Phantom of the Opera.


On June 6, over 2,500 New York City public school students gathered in the Majestic Theatre in Midtown for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at The Phantom of the Opera. Students not only learned about the musical aspects of the Broadway production, but the technical operation behind it, on top of meeting some of the cast members.

Students screamed in awe and excitement as the giant chandelier on stage was lifted above them, signaling the start of the show. Whispers of “oh wow” could be heard throughout the theater as Greg Livoti, the show’s production stage manager, explained that the chandelier has been with the show since it opened on Broadway in 1988.

The audience, made up of students from elementary school to early high school, were then introduced to members of the Broadway cast and production crew. During the program, the production stage manager, make-up supervisor, heads of props and carpentering, musical director, and pyro technician (a fan favorite of the crowd) explained and demonstrated their roles in making sure the show is able to go on. One lucky student was even taken on stage to be transformed into The Phantom by the show's makeup artist, Thelma Pollard, who has been with The Phantom of the Opera since it first came to Broadway 29 years ago.
 

young boy in the phantom makeupJaime Bonchick

NYC public school student Saif Asalat is transformed into The Phantom by the show's makeup artist Thelma Pollard.
 

Throughout the program students were treated to performances of songs from The Phantom of the Opera by the three lead characters: Christine (played by Ali Ewoldt), Raoul (played by Rodney Ingram), and The Phantom (played by Greg Mills). The actors also explained more about their characters as well as their own backgrounds and how they ended up in these roles. 

“It was really cool because I felt like I was a part of it,” said Ashanti Jupiter, a seventh grade student at P.S. 66, “like I knew what was happening backstage.”

Her classmate Ciarra Moore agreed. “It was a great experience,” she said. “[the program] could influence kids to go into acting and the other show biz stuff.”
 

cast members of the phantom of the opera on stageMelanie Einzig

Rodney Ingram (who plays Raoul) and Ali Ewoldt (who plays Christine) talk about their characters and backgrounds on stage at Inside Broadway's Creating the Magic event.
 

Michael Presser, founder of Inside Broadway, an NYC art nonprofit, explained why it’s important for children to see the assortment of jobs in theater. “There are wonderful and important careers here. So, if a child is interested in the theater, but is not going to be an actor, there are [still] many possibilities,” he said. Presser explained that the process of putting on a show is a collaborative effort, which is important for children to understand. 

The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of a deformed man who haunts the grand Paris Opera House from an underground hideout. The man tutors and composes operas for Christine, a rising star, who is torn between a suitor from her past and the mystery man.

Inside Broadway puts on programs throughout the year, giving NYC public school students a peek at the magic behind Broadway. Past Creating the Magic programs have included shows such as Chicago and Cats. “It’s very important because a lot of times [kids] think that the actors just come out on the stage and we turn the lights on and we have a play,” Presser said. “…and this type of program is introducing them to all of the people and all of the jobs that they do.” 

 

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Main image: The chandelier rises to start the program inside the Majestic Theatre in Midtown
Melanie Einzig