CCM Blog # 4

Posted in Uncategorized on December 6, 2010 by CCM Phantom of the Opera

Blog # 4 ……And What a Masquerade: 

“The County College of Morris’s production of Phantom ran to completely sold out shows with standing ovations every night. There is no doubt that the timeless tale of Phantom and the stirring beauty of the musical’s score is a true favorite among theatre lovers. The challenges and intensity of producing the show were rewarded fully by seeing the joy in the faces of the audiences as they rose to their feet and generously rewarded the cast with applause that made for long curtain calls. What a worthwhile and magical endeavor.” Colleen McArdle, Producer & Choreographer  


 Thoughts from a cast member: “It has been a few weeks since the end of our run of Phantom, and I find myself missing this special show.  We were led by an amazing team: Marielaine Mammon, the director; Rick Edinger the musical director; Colleen McArdle, the producer and choreographer; and many more.  The talented cast and hardworking crew did an amazing job.  We all really came together as a team, well, actually, it was more like a family.  I was so proud to be a part of it.  It was exciting to have generated such interest from the college and outside community.  The show’s music is technically difficult and we had a large cast. I was quite simply in awe of the fact that in 8 weeks, we put together such a tough show with such great success.  The cast was so excited to go out there and perform knowing we were sold out!   I will never forget having taken part in this production.” Susan Saunders

 Thoughts from the audience: (Kathleen Brunet Eagan). “I saw Phantom with my mother and husband. For each of us, this was the first time we had attended a CCM production. The performance was exceptional, one of the best I have ever seen on a community stage, if not the best. There certainly is a lot of great talent at CCM as evidenced by the students who acted, sang and danced in this production and the teachers who served as director, producer and chorographer, along with the technical staff. I give CCM a lot of credit for taking on such a challenging musical. You captured all the wonder and complexity of Phantom and made me even prouder that I am now part of the CCM community. The performing arts at CCM surely has gained numerous new fans with this outstanding production.” Kathleen Brunet Eagan, Director of Communications and College Relations.


Blog #3 Interviews with Christine & the Phantom

Posted in Uncategorized on October 29, 2010 by CCM Phantom of the Opera

Blog # 3 Interviews with the Phantom & Christine

With less than a week to opening night, the intensity is heating up as we work through our final dress rehearsals. Adding each layer – lights,  costumes, props, technology – presents a new challenge for the actors. We sat down with the Phantom and Christine to ask them a few questions about their journey with the show:

Why were you interested in playing this role?  

Phantom (Robert Farrugia, Rockland County, NY): “Since I first saw the show on Broadway, there was something that fascinated me about this character. I went into auditions with a strong passion that I really wanted the opportunity to experience the role of  the Phantom and that is what I set in my mind to do.    

Christine (Kelly Miller, Rockaway, NJ): “This is a dream role for any soprano. After recently playing Cinderella in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella and Miss Dorothy in Thoroughly Modern Mille,” I was excited by the challenge of playing this dynamic character.”

 What has been the biggest challenge in your journey to develop your characters?

Phantom: “Once I told my friends and family the auditions’ results, everyone asked me, Will you play the Phantom as an angry soul or a sympathetic man? I discovered during my character development in rehearsal and through the director’s notes that he actually has to be both. Finding the balance between those two traits is the crux of what makes the Phantom an ultimately tender individual to the audience. Your sympathy needs to see through the evil to the man’s soul behind it.”  

Christine: “It is often a challenge to play the ingénue because she something “appears” meek. With Christine, the director challenged me to develop a character that has many contrasts from her soft vulnerability to her fiery passion for love.”

What are you most looking forward to on opening night?

Both actors agreed that they are excited to have the energy of a full audience to play to, to connect the emotions on stage with those of the spectators.

Advanced ticket sales are at a historic high and we have had many comments our blog. It is great to be among the first to present this show. Many groups that will be producing it in 2011 are coming to see our production to see how we met the challenges and to get excited for their productions.

Coming Next: Opening Night

Photos: Life In Motion Photography







Blog # 2 The Technical Challenge

Posted in Uncategorized on October 15, 2010 by CCM Phantom of the Opera

This week’s blog comes to you from the choreographer and assistant producer of the show.

My name is Colleen McArdle and I am the Coordinator of Special Events and Foundation Programs and an adjunct professor of dance at the County College of Morris in New Jersey.

Once our creative team knew that Phantom would be our fall show we started production plans immediately. Phantom was a musical that came along in the era of the large Broadway spectacle. It is not possible to fully recreate that grandeur on a small community college stage, never mind the budgetary issues. Our biggest challenges were: our theatre was originally built as a lecture hall. It has a wide stage with less depth that most. There is limited wing space and no fly space. Without a scene shop, set pieces also have to be built on stage.

The decision was made to keep the sets small, light and floating. To support our “less is more” theory, we are using lighting in many scenes to create the sense of space that would otherwise be taken up by large set pieces. Projected images and video movies also are being incorporated. It took a lot of “outside-the-box” thinking to solve the technical dilemmas surrounding our current theatre space, but we believe we have solved them all. Though team meetings, we decided what set pieces are our “must haves” and those were the ones we built first.

As choreographer, I was challenged to design Masquerade without a staircase. This being one of the larger full-cast production numbers in the show, we wanted to be sure to capture its majesty.  Going back to my marching band days, the director and I decided work the cast into several formations that created the essence of descending down stage. With a cast of 47 members that certainly is a trick to perform. Educating the students on the proper posture and gestures of the era also was a lesson in both acting and history.

With this show, it is essential to have a full and experienced technical crew. There are so many constantly moving pieces. When asked why he chose to be part of the tech team, Eric Lancaster replied, “I wanted to be able to take the knowledge I learned from being on stage and bring it behind the scenes where the magic is created.”

With 47 cast members costuming also is a budgetary concern. Making the opera scenes dress rehearsals instead of full outfitted performances cut back on costuming and set pieces while maintaining the line of the plot. I do not want to give away all of our secrets but I believe the success of our production lies with the director. Professor Marielaine Mammon’s direction highlights the acting and vocal beauty of both the story and score. The sets are a backdrop to the plot and music, not the primary focus.   

As for the chandelier, well you will have to come see our production……………………….

 Next Blog: An Interview with Christine & The Phantom

Photography: Life in Motion Photography

#1 An Interview with the Director

Posted in Uncategorized on September 30, 2010 by CCM Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera!

A two-year program is a unique experience in that there is little time to expose students to a variety of musical theatre styles. Participation in the musical Phantom is an opportunity to expand the learning experience.   

“The difficulty of the musical score creates a culture of understanding as to what future challenges lie ahead for those on a true professional track,” says Professor Marielaine Mammon, director and chair of the Department of Music, Dance and Performing Arts at County College of Morris.

The creative team supporting the director was aware of the production’s challenges regarding both the venue and the budgetary constraints of a small college. The team met several times through the summer to brainstorm technical options that would carry the plot and work in the community space. Ultimately, the idea was to focus on the most important ‘effects’ and let the voices be the true “stars of the show.”

Professor Mammon explains, “I wanted to take on this challenge because I wanted to create something both beautiful and lyrical for the students and the audience.”

Look forward to our next blog: # 2 The Technical Challenge, interviews with the Musical Director, Choreographer, Set Designer & Crew posting the week of October 11th!