Voices of three "Phantom of the Opera" Phantoms to come alive on Fox Cities Performing Arts Center stage

October 25, 2011

Kara Patterson

Post Crescent

On Halloween weekend, three powerhouse tenors who each played the title role in “The Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway will perform “Music of the Night” and other show-stoppers during a Fox Valley Symphony concert.

It’s a pops program to fit the seasonal ambiance of painted faces on parade. In solo, duet and trio numbers, Craig Schulman, Ted Keegan and Brad Little also will perform signature songs from other musicals including “Jekyll & Hyde,” “Les Miserables,” “Camelot,” “My Fair Lady,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “The Secret Garden.”

“There is some mystery about this performance, which lends itself well to Halloween,” said Brian Groner, the symphony’s music director, who said the audience is in excellent company for the musical tour. “Each of these three gentlemen not only has a great voice, but they have great depth of experience in bringing the meaning of a song out with their voices. They have distinctive voices and distinctive styles but they are all hugely respected in Broadway circles. These gentlemen have a track record of basically thrilling their audiences.”

“Three Phantoms in Concert” begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in downtown Appleton.

To participate in the symphony’s “Music for a Cause” program, mention the code “shelter” when ordering tickets. The symphony will donate 75 percent of the face value of those designated tickets to the concert’s featured nonprofit organization, the Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley.

Schulman, who also produces the program, is based in the New York City area but has ties to the Fox Cities. His wife grew up in Neenah, and his in-laws still live in the Fox Cities.

“The day after the concert, we’re celebrating my father-in-law’s 90th birthday,” he said.

Schulman has portrayed hefty musical theater roles, including Erik, the Phantom; Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables;” and the title roles in “Jekyll & Hyde.” He developed “Three Phantoms in Concert” on the premise of “Phantom”’s popularity.

“The most popular music on any of the concerts I’ve done has always been ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ … and that turned out to be the hook,” Schulman said. “It suggests a level of artistic competence. Guys who play the Phantom of the Opera on Broadway have to be top in their field. My goal as a concert artist is to make the audience forget they’re sitting watching a concert, that… if you closed your eyes, you would think you were in a Broadway theater watching the show that I was singing the song from.”

Groner said the audience can expect to hear music from both ends of the Broadway songbook.

“To hear this broad spectrum of Broadway literature would normally require you to go to dozens of performances,” he said.

Rosie Cannizzo, the symphony’s executive director, said hearing the iconic musical numbers with the backing of a full orchestra will be a treat for audiences. In a staged production, the pit orchestra typically is much smaller, she said.

“I just think that’s really going to showcase all of the music,” Cannizzo said. “A lot of times the drama and the dancing and the sets and costumes and everything, that’s what people are focusing on when they see the Broadway show, but these are fabulous composers and the music is just great.”


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