Fort Salem Theater to open with 'Phantom'

SALEM, N.Y. - Fort Salem Theater will open its summer Mainstage season with the Rose Center Theater production of Tony winners Arthur Kopit and Maury Yeston's romantic musical, "Phantom," running one weekend only, June 20-22.

Fort Salem's Phantom is directed by part-time Salem resident Tim Nelson, artistic director at The Rose Center Theater in Westminster, Calif. "Every summer we look forward to a trip to Salem to bring one of our winter hits to the Fort Salem stage," says Nelson. "This year we reprised our popular 2007 production of Phantom, and it was even more successful. We can't wait to show it off to the Salem audiences."

Shortly after winning their Tony Award for "Nine," Best Musical of 1982, librettist Arthur Kopit and songwriter Maury Yeston adapted Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel, Phantom of the Opera, into a Broadway-style musical. Just as their producers set out to announce plans for a Broadway opening, they were ambushed by British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, fresh and financially fortified by the success of Cats, who produced his own version, Phantom of the Opera, first in London and then in New York. Kopit and Yeston lost both their investors and their interest in the project until Kopit turned the show, without songs, into a four-part miniseries for NBC. The first production of Phantom, in 1992, received rave reviews, and the Yeston score has found its own cult following.

In summarizing a 2013 production in London, online reviewer Peter Scot-Presland, notes: "In truth, as a piece of writing, Yeston's Phantom' is altogether more engaging than Lloyd-Webber's. It is tighter, more intimate and informed by more human sympathy." Bringing the story to life, Director Nelson has gathered a talented cast, many of whom have been featured in the group's classic musicals the Rose Center has presented over the years in Salem.

"Expect some real vocal gymnastics," predicts Fort Salem's artistic director, Jay Kerr. "Tim's wife, Mary Murphy-Nelson, playing the wife of the owner of the opera house, will raise the roof with This Place Is Mine,' a song that suggests she can sing whatever parts she likes, because her husband runs the show.

Fort Salem Theater hosts The Rose Center production of Phantom Friday and Saturday nights, June 20-21, at 8 p.m, with a Sunday matinee, June 22, at 2 p.m. More information is available on the theater's website ( or by calling the box office, (518) 854-9200.


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