‘Phantom’ is beyond spectacular as McShane, Walden and entire cast deliver!

Unionville Drama Club has set a new standard as the curtain raises on “Phantom of the Opera”

By Dave Conard Sports Editor UnionvilleTimes.com

The Phantom's iconic mask is left behind inthe final scene

PARIS—Alert, alert, this is a public service announcement, the Phantom has been seen again lurking at the old Opera House on Unionville Road.

It was reported that he interrupted an auction as well as a masquerade ball, although he is not considered dangerous at this time, East Marlborough citizens should proceed with caution.  


It is hard to find the words that accurately describe the opening of this year’s Unionville Drama club and music department’s production of “Phantom of The Opera” as they raised the curtain in the new auditorium Thursday night to a packed house.


From the moment they enter the building, theatre goers are magically transported back to the early 1900’s in grand ole Paris.

Unionville junior Natalie Walden delivered a breath taking performance as Christine Daae

The illusion  is enhanced by details such as the beret-clad ushers, as well as  the freshly baked mandolin cookies and crepes being served at “le café” (aka the Unionville snack bar), the arts department and its army of parent volunteers, have gone above and beyond to elevate the feel and ambiance of a sensational show.


Through out the 1300 performances of the “Phantom” on Broadway in the which
”original phantom”, Michael Crawford took the stage, it is inconceivable than any one performance would have been delivered with more panache, intensity and passion than that turned in by Unionville senior Conner McShane in that role on opening night.


In an absolutely spot on performance, McShane almost dares the audience not experience the gamete of human emotions within as they follow the journey of a cast off child who shares his musical gift only to be betrayed by the love of his life Christine Daae, played by Unionville junior Natalie Walden, much to the dismay of Daae’s suitor Raoul, Vicomte de Chagney (Evan Dupuis).


Following an absolutely flawless performance, McShane was greeted afterwards by friends and family members, many with eyes still streaming from the tears that were pried from within their souls by the breathtaking vocals by McShane and Walden’s which were as haunting and overwhelming as the phantom’s pipe organ.


The Phantom (Connor McShane) dispells the myth of his exhistence by appearing at a costume ball

“This is amazing to be in a production like this,” said McShane as he continued to shares hugs and blessing from audience he had just hypnotized with his heart felt delivery of “All I ask of you” and the “Final Lair” during which he leaves behind his trademark white mask.


“To play a character like the Phantom is almost surreal, Michael Crawford was so amazing on Broadway, I just feel so lucky to have a chance to be a part of this cast and work with such an awesome group of people that have been so supportive.”


A veteran of five shows at Unionville High School this is McShane’s first lead role as has been involved in Les’Miserables and played the role of Senator Fipp in Urinetown last year, which were eclipsed by far by the iconic role of the “Phantom”.


McShane has no immediate plans after graduation of pursuing acting, but if Thursday night’s performance is an indication of things to come, he may want to consider revising his career path in the direction of the yellow brick road or 42nd Street and Broadway.


Sixteen year old Natalie Walden, who has been “singing since she could stand up” according to the diminutive Unionville junior, has dreamed of taking the stage as Miss Daae since saw “Phantom” performed professionally in 6th grade and she has taken the role to heart.


Christine (Natalie Walden) colapses in the Phantom's arms (McShane) when she see her phantom reflection.

“I just love singing,” said Walden following an absolutely stunning portrayal of the Phantom’s love interest, a quantum leap from her ensemble role of a year ago. “When we have been practicing it has been great, but to take the stage tonight and feel the energy of the crowd and see all of those faces and their reaction was unbelievable. This is just a dream come true.”


Fueled by the brilliant performances by the cast, along with beautiful period costumes, lighting, scenery, sets and props that would rival any professional company, “Phantom” is absolutely riveting from start to finish.


Cynthia Waibul, who portrays Carlotta Giudiceli, the opera vixen who is displaced by Daae, delivers time and time again with her powerful vocals along with quirky humor as she deals with playing second fiddle to the Phantom’s casting choice.


The audience could not resist beying spell bound as they experienced the emotional highs and lows of the performances of “Point of no return” and the reprise of “All I ask of you”. As the drama builds toward the climactic ending “Final Lair” number, the intensity and passion of Walden, McShane and DuPuis is palatable, leading to the Phantom freeing Raoul and having no further need to hide his “handicap” from his true love.


“The final scene is my favorite,” added Walden. “Everything builds to that and it so emotional challenging to perform it, feeling how they must have felt. This is just the most amazing cast and the orchestra did such a great job, wow it is hard to describe what I am feeling right now.”


Unionville drama club’s “Phantom of the Opera” is a truly magical performance of a classic that has endured the test of time and has raised the bar into the stratosphere for future UDC productions to be measured by, some tickets still remain available for Friday and Saturday’s performances at 7:30 pm.

To view a photo show of the entire production paste and click the following link –  http://www.photostockplus.com/home.php?tmpl=121&user_id=63742&action=viewalbum&event=1002118


The Phantom (Connor McShane) and Christine (Natalie Walden) were nothing short of brilliant in Unionville Drama Club's production of Phantom of the Opera

Unionville's Cynthia Waibel was amazing as opera diva Carlotta Giuicelli

Raoul (Evan Dupuis) and Christine (Walden) share their first kiss.

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  1. Craig Huffman says:

    I attended the Friday night show and was blown away by how good this show was. The singing, acting, dancing, stagecraft were all broadway quality. It was a great performance and kudos to everyone involved.

  2. Berta Rains says:

    I was blown away with the quality of this production. I brought a friend from Wilmington to see it with me on Friday night and both of us were thinking….broadway material. I want to particularly comment on the excellence of the lead, Natalie Walden, whose voice was beautiful, strong and totally consistent in its quality. The entire cast, orchestra, costumes, sets, sound and lighting worked in such congruence that the production appeared to be seamless. What effort, support and passion for excellence must have been put forth by so many – UHS staff and parents included. Bravo to all of you.

  3. Lori Joseph says:

    Kudos to all who gave the most outstanding high school performance I have ever seen, I echo Carol Catanese when I say that there were moments when I forgot these were high school students. And the orchestra, wow! But Connor McShane. Connor!! OMG!! There are no words, to see you develop as an artist has been amazing, you truly have a gift, one I hope you continue to share with the world!! Bravo to you sir, you are an unbelievably talented young man!!

  4. Carol Catanese says:

    I attended the Friday evening performance of The Phantom of the Opera, the UHS Spring Musical (we always called it the Spring Musical, but I guess it is still winter:)). Dave Conrad did not overstate the quality and depth of emotion in this production. I found myself, several times, saying in disbelief, this is a high school performance – no way!?
    The UHS theatrical performance continue to entertain!

    • dconard says:

      Thanks for reading and the comments, I actually took my wife and daughter to Saturday’s show and again it was stunning. I would be remissed if I did not metion what a sensational job that Evan Dupuis did on his vocals as they were delivered as well as any porfessional show, great job to the hunbdreds involved in treating the public to such a great show.

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