Tag Archives: Megan Probert

Interview: GMTG presents ‘The Phantom of the Opera’

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The Phantom of the Opera, the well-loved musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe, is set to hit our student shores next week. Its sweeping musical score, powerful operatic voices, and choreography, not to mention the costumes and masks, are sure to make this show unmissable. Elisha Owen spoke to Director Megan Probert, and Musical Director and Producer Josh Sood to find out more. 

1) For those who don’t know the show, give us a little synopsis.

The Phantom of the Opera is essentially one of the greatest love stories ever told. A masked figure lurks in the shadows of the Paris Opera House. As rehearsals for a new production are underway, new owners take over charge of the theatre surrounded by whispers of a Phantom of the Opera. Christine Daaé, a beautiful, impressionable chorus girl, emerges from the chorus, capturing the new manager’s attention – and Phantom’s heart – with her haunting voice. Determined that Christine will be his protegée, and desperate for her love, the Phantom devotes himself to nurturing her extraordinary talents. As devotion turns to obsession, the Phantom will risk everything for her love.

2) Tell us a bit about your role in Phantom of the Opera.

M: As Director, my job was to get the Phantom on its feet, and on the stage. Helped out by an incredible crew, and a wonderfully committed cast, it has been a real joy – the sense of collaboration and team spirit has really characterised this process.

J: I’ve acted as the Musical Director and Producer for Phantom, which (as MD) has mainly involved training the cast up to be able to sing the score, rehearsing the orchestra, but as producer has meant sorting out the financial, legal and administrative side of the production.

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3) How did the audition process work? Were you ever worried you weren’t going to find your Christine and Phantom?

We held open auditions in the guild, so anyone could come and audition who1017740_1495764173985259_3422569402405726013_n fancied it. I don’t think we were ever worried about finding people to play the roles – with a show such as Phantom, it automatically draws a lot of people in as it has a huge following. It was a very exciting and nerve-wracking experience – I think we were as nervous as the auditionees! Phantom is an incredibly demanding show and there are very particular voice types that are required, so in this way it was quite daunting.

The roles of Christine and Phantom, probably the two most iconic roles in the show, are incredibly challenging in terms of vocal and acting ability. We were blown away by Andy and Abby’s auditions, and they both have taken to their roles so well. It’s really exciting to have a whole heap of music students involved in the production as music is so central to Phantom. We are very excited for everybody to hear the cast and orchestra, actually – a very, very talented bunch.

4) The musical is known for being a large-scale production. What have been the difficulties and joys of transferring it to a student stage?

It’s been great to work with the cast in recreating and reimagining iconic scenes. The biggest challenge has probably been creating the spectacle that Phantom is famous for – so elaborate sets, and so on. We’ve really stripped back this aspect as we want the focus to be on the beautiful music and on the characters. That being said, you can still expect a level of spectacle that we hope audiences will enjoy.

Also, the score is vocally very demanding, and it has taken a lot of rehearsal time and drilling to get right. We have a cast of about 40 people, so getting everyone working together is the first and most important thing to achieve. There are several special effects in the show which have caused a few issues here and there and have been a challenge to overcome, but we’re getting there with it all!

5) What has been the most fun part of the rehearsal process?

The most exciting and fun part of the rehearsal is the sitzprobe; after months of rehearsing with just a piano, to have a full 27 piece orchestra and full cast singing together is really amazing and gears everyone up for the final push before the show.

6) Why should people come to the show? What can they expect?

It’s The Phantom of the Opera! You can expect a stunning score, beautiful story, and a wonderful evening of entertainment. We have a truly amazing cast, orchestra and crew, who have worked incredibly hard over the past 3 months or so.  It’s not often that amateur productions of Phantom happen so I think people should make the most of the opportunity, as it will be a real spectacle. Please come and support us!

7) And lastly, the question on everyone’s lips – will there be a chandelier?

It wouldn’t be Phantom without the chandelier now would it…

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The Phantom of the Opera will be running 13th-17th May 2014, in the Debating Hall, Guild of Students. 

Tickets can be purchased online at: http://www.guildtickets.co.uk/GMTG

For more details and photos, like their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/GMTG-Presents-The-Phantom-of-the-Opera/1470435719851438

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GMTG presents: The Comedian @ The Guild of Students

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You’d be forgiven for thinking that GMTG’s most recent musical, The Comedian, was a light-hearted comedy. It was definitely funny but didn’t deliver the happy ending the audience were expecting.

The play tells the story of Tim Adams, played by Matt McConnell: an awkward stand-up comedian who we meet on the edge of his ‘big break’ and follow as he struggles to deal with the pressure of his new-found fame. McConnell is a likeable lead who wins us over with his hilarious childhood anecdotes as he delivers a stand-up routine directly to the audience. Although a somewhat nervous singer at the start, this made him incredibly endearing and was shattered by his later solos which were angry, anguished and powerful.

Tim’s big break comes when he is offered the chance to host a panel show, the wittily titled ‘News Flush’. These episodes were the highlight of the musical for me as the audience are invited to play the role of a live audience, cheering and clapping along with the sparring between the panel show’s guests. However Tim’s inability to get a word in edge-ways results in him being panned by critics and he resorts to cocaine to boost his confidence. Whilst his drug-fuelled comeback wins the respect of the panel and the critics, he loses the love of his doting fiancée Hannah- played by Megan Probert.

Probert is a talented singer and the heart-breaking solo in which she realises she no longer recognises the man she loves in Tim gave me shivers. However the stand out role for me was that of Tim’s manager, ‘best friend’ and eventual drug dealer Ollie, played brilliantly by Ciaran Cresswell. Smarmy, suave and self-assured, I hated him and admired him in equal measure. Tim is as under Ollie’s influence as the audience are and, with Ollie’s encouragement, continues taking cocaine.

What follows are Tim’s more and more tragic attempts to win Hannah back whilst he spirals into addiction, leading to an unexpectedly disturbing ending. His quest for critical success causes him to lose everything and left me thinking about the way we constantly strive for more without realising what we have already.

What amazed me most of all, however, was that the script and music was written completely from scratch by Leo West and Josh Sood. The play was well written and the songs in particular were so catchy that you couldn’t believe they were original. At times the play even seemed to mock the emotional aspect of musicals, such as when Tim wanders on stage for a moving solo and is so upset that after several attempts to start singing he gives up and leaves. Although the anti-climax made the audience laugh, it was also very touching.

Overall it was this ability to intertwine comedy and tragedy, often in a single line or song, which I found most impressive about this musical- I never knew whether to laugh or cry.

By Ellicia Pendle

@elliciapendle