Shenandoah Valley's Drama Club brought light from the darkness with their rendition of Phantom of the Opera this past weekend.
By: Andrew Pietkiewicz
As the weather continues to get better, spring weekends in Schuylkill County are ripe for activity.
On Saturday night, as the warming glow of the sun made it’s pass out of our hemisphere, the light from the moon crept just far enough away from the sun’s waning shadow to keep watch on Shenandoah Valley High School’s Drama Department, as they too hoped to bring light from the dwelling of darkness.
This talented group of young people compelled sound to siphon silence from its’ seat and fire out, back in a display of vibrant condemnation. Emotions that cast a spoken stone out from the end stage, and sought to build rafters out of ripples among the floor boards of the auditorium’s ceiling. But why only build rafters when you can build mountains?
Shenandoah Valley Drama Club’s adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s, Phantom of the Opera, set out to accomplish just that.
To build cloud shredding peaks out of the timbers of a stage with which they gracefully navigated.
Under the passionate direction of Sarah Elizabeth Yorke, Wendy Nicodemus, and Bridget Rooney, the cast and crew of SVHS Drama Department, as an ensemble, as well as individuals, brought to the stage a brilliance that defied expectation.
As a member of the audience, you felt that this could be something special, and by all means, these people did not disappoint. There are times where a play feels that it has been rehearsed to death. Where lines are spoken, but not embodied. It is a scene far differing to what these performers were able to accomplish Saturday night.
With strong leading performances by Leanne Rooney (Christine), Riley Guers (The Phantom), and Rocco Roguskie (Raoul, Vicomte de Changy), complimented with the equally remarkable backing of the supporting roles portrayed by Jesse Carl (Monsieur Firmin), Sean James (Monsieur Andre), Valentina Thomas (Carlotta Giudicelli), Jackie Bubnis (Madame Giry), Irvin Garcia (Ubaldo Piangi), and Abby Conroy (Meg Giry), they brought passion, they brought rage, dread, empathy, whimsy, heart and soul.
They managed to delight audience members with jubilant displays of wonder and discovery from the very second the curtain called. The energy of the cast was potent, captivating those nestled in their seats and cradling their attentions and heart strings as if to keep them from the grip of the Phantom’s looming lasso.
“Keep your hand at the level of your eyes”, was the advice given before the story of the Phantom leaped off.
The vocal talents of Rooney, Guers, and Roguskie did no less than thrill patrons with magnificent renditions of “The Phantom of the Opera”, “All I ask of you”, and “Little Lotte/ The Mirror (Angel of Music)”.
The performance left one hard pressed to believe these kids are only in high school. As act one wound down and intermission found its place in the audience, the tension in the air for resolution was anxiously coursing through the aisles.
Act two only sought to delight this tension in a full company performance of “Masquerade” that called upon an army of goosebumps to leap from their seats- standing, begging to be presented and accounted for.
Bringing us back to earth with the eerie melodies of “Wishing you were somehow here again” before sending us back skywards with the ominously powerful “Past the point of no return”.
All in all, these students struck out to deliver a story about the trappings of brilliance and passion as it crumbles into obsession of the strength of a fiery heart as it fights for supremacy in a war with the devilish hands of night’s chosen soldier.
The only cause for regret from this performance was that it hadn’t lasted longer! There was a limited number of performances available to prospective audiences, so viewings were reserved for those quickest to the box office.
With a large portion of this year’s cast returning next year, there is great excitement to be had for one of this region’s hardest working student organizations.
Next time Shenandoah Valley High School puts on a show, don’t be the one to miss it.