Phantom production ready to impress

DEAN Cocker and Amelia Reynolds are preparing to play the biggest roles of their stage careers in Encore Theatre Company's $300,000 production of  Phantom of the Opera .

The pair has spent the past seven months rehearsing for the show and on Friday night will make their Princess Theatre debuts as the Phantom and Christine.

Cocker, who is well known in Launceston's theatre scene having recently played Sweeny Todd in the show of the same name and The Beast in  Beauty and The Beast , said Phantom was the show he had been waiting for.

``As a high baritone this is the biggest role in musical theatre, so I'm really enjoying it,'' he said.

Cocker was made up to look like the Phantom for the first time yesterday as the cast of 44, orchestra of 24 and crew of 30 practised its first full dress rehearsal at the Princess Theatre.

Reynolds said Phantom was her musical theatre debut at the Princess Theatre and also would be the first time she has danced on pointe.

``It's very exciting, I've always wanted to play the role,'' Reynolds said.

``It's a show that you just have to do and for a female lead this would be one of the biggest roles you could play.''

Director Belinda King said the $300,000 show was extremely risky to put on and would be the biggest budgeted production performed by a Northern Tasmanian community theatre company.

``It's a risky show to put on because if you're going to spend the money you're hoping you're going to attract an audience,'' she said.

``It's also a risky show in terms of all the technical elements, like crashing a chandelier to the stage, having dry ice, pyrotechnics, disappearing thrones, two-way mirrors - there's so many elements that could go wrong.

``But I'm surprisingly calm at the moment.''

The dazzling 1.8-metre crystal- encrusted chandelier alone cost the company $10,000 to hire, plus it had to import many of its props and costumes from across Australia and America.

STAGE CALLING

WHAT: Phantom of the Opera, presented by Encore Theatre Company.

WHERE: Princess Theatre, Launceston.

WHEN: Opens Friday, runs until March 29.

TICKETS: Phone 6323 3666, visit the Princess Theatre box office or see www.theatrenorth.com.au.

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