Recent History – 2003
April 11, 2003
By Kelly Harris, Daily News Staff
During Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, a giant fireball is blasted from the stage, assaulting the crowd’s senses. Phantom of the Country Opera, which opened at Unchagah Hall Thursday, doesn’t have the same pyrotechnics. But in the second half of the show, musical director Dawn Taylor jumps into the play and belts out a few lines from one of the songs using her almost overpowering voice. It wasn’t a fireball, but for anyone in the nearly-full house for opening night, it was definitely memorable.
The Dawson Creek Community Players’ production stars Tammy McNutt, who plays the role of Christina Joseph – an established opera singer from Italy who returns home to her country roots in Nashville. McNutt’s performance is admirable and her voice shows terrific range.
In the script, Joseph upstages country diva Sally Barker (Cindy Watson). But during the play Watson’s performance as the petty and self-involved Barker grabs the audience’s attention through comic relief.
But both could have done little to draw from the stage presence of Thierry Wunderlin, playing the role of Antonio – Joseph’s Italian lover. The Swiss exchange student who celebrated his 18th birthday on opening night drew roars of laughter from the audience almost every time he took to the stage. His telegram bit and cowboy clothes and song were enough to provoke side-splitting laughter.
At one point it was difficult to tell if McNutt was laughing as part of the play or chuckling for real with the audience.
No one would mistake this play for Webber’s classic, the similarities are few and the music is 180 degrees from the operatic classic. The opening scene alone will tell anyone in attendance that. The set is La Scala Opera in Milan, Italy for the opening scene. The set is an opera stage yet the words being sung, a combination of Spanish, Italian and possibly French phrases and products, get the audience off to a laughing start.