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On beyond the school musical

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There is a danger when praising one school’s musical production, that you will unfairly overlook very worthy efforts at other schools. That’s true. But the Wenatchee High School Choral Department’s production of “The Phantom of the Opera” is something else. It transcends the category. Don’t call it a high school musical. Don’t call it the school play, even if it is. You will shortchange it. For this performance, subdue logic. Alter expectations. Musical theater always requires a massive suspension of disbelief. Normal people don’t go around singing to each other, for instance. I don’t think there is a massive, yet unknown lake under the streets of Paris where a deformed multidisciplinary genius has built himself an apartment and musical studio, complete with pipe organ. Yet, hear the voices and orchestra, see the set, the lighting, the mists and fog and candlelight, and for a few hours you can believe. You are drawn in. That’s what good theater does and this production succeeds, with a major bonus. What is astonishing, and most difficult to fathom, is that you are watching and listening to teenagers. Therein is the greatest treat of this or any well-performed school musical or dramatic production. I have said it many times — you get to see just what remarkable things young people can do. You can see how highly skilled and sophisticated they are, how they have jumped into the complex crafts of music and drama and found success. They have not yet mastered them, but they have a taste of how hard work and attention to detail lets you grab an audience and raise emotions to a new level.

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