Theatre students present A Phantom Returns

Raoul (Lyle Pelletier) and Christine (Madison Johnson) perform a scene from The Phantom of the Opera at Summerland Secondary School. - Black Press
Raoul (Lyle Pelletier) and Christine (Madison Johnson) perform a scene from The Phantom of the Opera at Summerland Secondary School.
— image credit: Black Press

Summerland Secondary School theatre students are getting a lesson of a lifetime working with a Broadway/West End theatre professional.

U.K. theatre legend, Peter Karrie, best known for his lead role in the Phantom of the Opera, is giving free workshops to the students. The students caught Karrie’s attention last year when he was on his Canadian tour and he was so impressed he promised to return to work specifically with them.

Coming off the back of the highly touted student production of Phantom of the Opera, the Summerland theatre students now have the opportunity to sit in a workshop with Karrie.

“I am so excited to be working with Peter Karrie. Phantom was a life-changing experience for me and this is an incredible opportunity,” said Aliah Heck.

Some of the Summerland students previously travelled to Vernon with their parents to work with Karrie.

“With my singing, it was one of those moments of realization of what I’m capable of,” said Patricia Henninger, one of the students who played Christine in their production of Phantom and sang the role of Christine in concert with Karrie in Vernon.

Karrie flew in from the U.K. to spend time giving them free workshops plus the opportunity to perform in concert with him. Organizers said with the B.C. teachers’ strike, those plans were put into limbo. However, Karrie felt bad for the students who were now possibly going to miss out on working with him. He had a show in Vernon on March 9 and invited any of the Summerland youths who wished to appear in concert to come.

Since then, the Summerland concert has been allowed to proceed as planned Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Centre Stage Theatre.

“The youths of today are the stars of tomorrow. However, it’s today that they need to be on stage,” said Karrie. “They need to gain stage experience and confidence. As far as I have been able to find with my research, they are the first school in B.C. to have done a school version of Phantom and also had their cast perform with an actual stage Phantom from the professional version of the musical. It is a rare opportunity.”

Karrie currently holds the world record as the actor who has played the Phantom more than any other actor, over 2,700 performances.

The professional is also known for playing the lead in Les Miserables in London for two and a half years. Other major musicals he has performed in include Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, Chess, Annie and Fiddler on the Roof.

The Centre Stage concert, A Phantom Returns, is not just a rehashing of their production. It features numbers from various popular musicals and will feature the students on their own, as well as in numbers with Karrie. He will also have solo numbers of his own.

Tickets are $20 and are available at the door, The Beanery and at the school office.

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