Pyper Johnston, Kemp McKeekin, Kat Wolf, Zach van Noppen, Kathleen Konopka

Submitted by Elisabeth Rubli

How can you not be carried away with this collection of fantastic music presented by the North Grenville Concert Choir? Along with Hairspray, Mamma Mia and Wicked, medleys from Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables will also be part of the show!

Phantom of the Opera is Broadway’s longest-running and financially successful musical, based on the French novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux, an out-of-print book that Andrew Lloyd Webber (thankfully) discovered whilst browsing through a used bookstore one day. Webber wrote the magnificent music, with lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe; because of its score and vocal demands, it is often staged as an opera.

It has run in 28 countries and numerous languages, and won seven Tony awards. The score has snippets or themes from such diverse composers as Mozart to Gilbert & Sullivan appearing. A single performance has 230 costumes requiring 14 dressers; it uses 281 candles, 10 fog machines and more than 500 pounds of dry ice. The Phantom’s facial prosthetics are manufactured in London and shipped globally, and several Phantoms have actually gotten their lip prosthetics stuck on Christine during performances.

Les Misérables is based on Victor Hugo’s veritable monster of a book (well over 1,000 pages), and was originally a French-language production that opened in Paris to poor reviews. It opened to even poorer ones on the West End. The music is by Claude-Michel Schönberg and lyrics by Alain Boublil & Jean-Marc Natel (French), and Herbert Kretzmer (English). It is the second-longest-running musical globally, has played in 42 countries and 22 languages. It is currently playing its third Broadway run, having previewed in Toronto (go Canada!). The production requires 392 costumes, which is over 5,000 individual pieces of clothing and 85 wigs.

It takes place during a time period that encompasses both the American Revolution (which was helped to victory by the French) and the French Revolution. The 2014 film version sparked the film industry’s renewed interest in movie-musicals and it was so huge that the Oscars’ theme was ‘Movie Musicals.’ In 2004, Queen Elizabeth II invited the French President and British Prime Minister to Windsor Castle for a 40-minute highlight reel. Presidents Obama and Clinton used the anthem ‘One Day More’ as campaign songs; not hard to understand why.

The choir is full of new talent this season, and several young members will be featured as soloists. There is something for all to enjoy, so pick a show date and come one, come all. Friday, May 13, 7:30 at Winchester United Church, and two shows on Sunday, May 15, 2 pm at St. John’s United Church, Kemptville and 7:30 pm at Holy Trinity Church, Merrickville. Tickets $15 at the door or call

Photo: Pyper Johnston, Kemp McKeekin, Kat Wolf, Zach van Noppen, Kathleen Konopka


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