WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Chris Guzman, 16, has been studying every rendition of the Phantom of the Opera he can get his hands on since he saw his name next to Raoul on the Archbishop of Stepinac High Schools casting list.
The White Plains sophomore hopes to synthesize elements from each performance when he debuts his biggest role yet on the April 27 opening night.
I started watching them the second Mr. Portanova announced the show. I havent seen it live at Broadway, but Ive watched every possible rendition of it, even if its other high schools plays on YouTube. Id like to take a piece of everything and combine it to make one Raoul, Guzman said.
Guzman has been rehearsing Raouls initial skepticism about his childhood sweethearts tales of a phantom terrorizing the Paris Opera house where she sings. Raoul eventually sets out to find this Angel of the Night and save Christine. However, the phantom catches Raoul and ransoms him off for Christines love.
My favorite scene would be when were down in the phantoms lair. The phantoms got Raoul and he gives Christine a choice: you stay with me or he dies, Guzman said. Christine chose to love phantom for the first time hes felt love, so that makes the scene really emotional.
The sophomore has been in White Plains Performing Arts Center productions and Stepinacs Twentieth Century, and A View From the Bridge. Last year he played Monsieur DArque, an asylum owner, in the high schools Beauty and the Beast, where he schemed to lock away Belles father to help her crush blackmail her into marriage.
With Raoul its a new experience because I am always admiring the people on stage who play heroes who you sympathize with. Ive always wanted to be that and have that effect on people in the audience. So its almost like a dream come true, Guzman said.
Guzman and about 50 other performers have been rehearsing before school, giving up lunch to practice and staying late. Guzman said he has the first of two acts memorized. Hes focusing most on the All I Ask of You love ballad and other songs because he has less singing experience.
Keith Sunderland, Stepinacs dean and drama club producer , said Guzman securing a lead role in his sophomore year is a testament to his talent.
Whats exciting about having Chris take on such a big role is over the short year and a half that hes been here, hes worked up to the big role, Sunderland said. For us, its exciting to see him develop over a short period and know that hes still developing.
The Stepinac Drama Clubs Phantom of the Opera spring performances coincide with the 25th anniversary of Broadways longest running musical. Tickets go on sale April 2 for the April 27 to May 6 performances. Admission is $18 for adults and $12 for seniors and children 12 or under. Reserve your tickets by calling (914) 946-4800 ext. 200.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.