The Phantom of the Soap Opera
Carson City, NV 89703
For those of you who thought Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera couldn’t get any cheesier, let me say now that you were wrong. Sure, Webber’s silly lyrics and irritating tunes really get inside your mind and refuse to leave. But then again, Webber never actually rhymed “yucky” and “ducky” in any of his lyrics—and for me, the show is the poorer for it.
But where one fails, another succeeds brilliantly. It’s The Phantom of the Soap Opera, a mystery/comedy spoof written by Craig Sodaro and performed by Carson Performing Arts at the Brewery Arts Center.
“This is a really cheesy, fun, slapstick show,” says Karen Chandler, director of Carson High’s theater department and the CHS Capitol Stars, the school’s musical theater company. “The music is actually similar to the original Phantom but with the worst lyrics you’ve ever heard. It’s absolutely hilarious.”
Regina Brooks, played by Carinne Powell, is our lovely heroine. She plays a leading role on As the Heart Burns, a drama full of all the back-biting, bad writing and bad boys you’d expect from a ‘70s soap. There’s our aging diva, Daphne Davis (Elisa Sala), needlessly haughty in her hot-pink jumpsuit. The soap’s nervous director, Addison Meriwether (Josh Wold) swigs Pepto-Bismol incessantly for his peptic ulcer. Regina’s true love is Harlan (Cam Shirey), long-haired lead on the competing soap, The Sands of Time. And the sandwich guy (Philip Wortman) actually sells ham and cheese. (Get it?)
The Phantom, meanwhile, lurks backstage, watching the fair Regina, waiting for his chance to make her his. Finally, during a rehearsal, he snatches her. Now it’s Digby Wright (Dakota Dutcher) to the rescue. Wright is the Columbo-esque detective charged with finding Regina, with the help of his trusty assistant, Eve Potter (Lainey Henderson).
Many of Webber’s most memorable moments have been retained—albeit refurbished. The famous chandelier crash lacks its usual drama, since the chandelier is made entirely of plastic and lands, instead, with a thud. The candlelit dinner that our Phantom prepares for Regina consists of Big Macs. And the boat designed to row her away to romance ends up being like those great soap opera beach scenes we’ve seen before, where you can actually hear footsteps on the sand. Then, of course, there are those lyrics.
“Our singers will actually be bad on purpose in many scenes,” says Chandler. “They’re supposed to be terrible.”
Usually, however, they’re not. The Capitol Stars are full of talent. Alex Crounk and Elizabeth Peebles, who play minor roles in the show, actually write their own music. Cam Shirey is already pursuing a professional acting career, and Elisa Sala, Chandler says, has a “world-class voice.”
The Phantom of the Soap Opera is a fundraiser for the Carson High theater program to enable them to travel to regional competitions. Last year, the group went to Hawaii, and this year they hope to make it to San Francisco. “This way, they raise their own money, and it really raises the stakes for them to do a great job,” says Chandler.
Plus, it’s just so easy to make fun of Andrew Lloyd Webber.