EOU pulls coup with staging of ‘The Phantom’

By Observer editorial November 11, 2010 01:03 pm
It’s amazing what a small university with big ambitions can accomplish. Take “The Phantom of the Opera,” for instance. It’s the longest-running musical in Broadway history. And now it has come to La Grande. The Eastern Oregon University production ends its run this weekend with shows tonight, Friday and Saturday night at 7 and Sunday at 2 p.m. in McKenzie Theatre.
Remarkably, and as a real feather in the EOU theatre and music department’s caps, it’s the first time a university in the United States has presented the show. Talent from both the community and the college, and from Portland Opera, is making the show one to remember. Professional opera performer Stacey Murdock is playing the role of the Phantom. A cast of about 30, including students, EOU employees and community members, is appearing on stage in the Kenn Wheeler-directed show.

It’s a mammoth production. EOU Costume Design Professor Heather Tomlinson designed more than 100 costumes for the show. April Curtis built the masks for the musical number “Masquerade.” Many other talented people are responsible for lights, wigs, choreography and the myriad of details that make such a show possible.

The EOU theatre and music departments should be commended for bringing a bit of Broadway to La Grande. In fact, EOU is the first university that has presented an amateur production of a musical while the professional production is still playing on Broadway. That’s right. The first in the entire United States.

More than 100 million people have enjoyed the show around the world. Now local audiences can enjoy the show too — without leaving the Grande Ronde Valley. Shows like “Phantom” make living in La Grande a joy. This week, take the opportunity to enjoy “Phantom” and add your support to our first class EOU music and theatre programs.