Phantom a hard act to follow

LAUNCESTON'S Encore Theatre Company production of  The Phantom of the Opera  will prove to be a hard act to follow, with ticket sales showing a record 10,022 people filled the Princess Theatre over the three-week season.

As the curtain fell on the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical classic on Saturday night, director Belinda King described the journey for the cast and crew as having been ``one helluva good ride''.

``It's definitely an Encore record with 10,022 tickets sold, but from all accounts it seems it could be a record for any Launceston amateur production, even counting the Launceston Players' big musicals of  the eighties,'' King said, as bump out of the $300,000 production was in full  swing yesterday afternoon.

Encore's previous audience record was 7000 for  Jesus Christ Superstar  in 2012.

``We are clearly over the moon how Northern Tasmania has taken this production to its heart,'' said King.

``I congratulate my wonderful cast and crew because it was a risk taking on such an internationally popular musical, and we are so in awe of the audience reaction.

``All the actors have put in so many months of commitment to rehearsals, the crew has worked tirelessly behind the scenes and our orchestral ensemble was just awesome.

``We've become a tight-knit `Phamily','' she said, smiling wryly.

``But none of it would be worth it if the audiences didn't come, but we have attracted four sell-out shows and every other performance was heavily booked.''

Encore's next blockbuster production will be  War of the Worlds  and British actress Sue Hodge has accepted to guest star in  The Vicar of Dibley  in November.

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