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RIVERSIDE, Calif. (April 9, 2015) -- California Baptist University's season-ending production of "Phantom" begins a two-week, seven-performance run April 10.

Written by by Arthur Kopit and Maury Yeston, the play is based on the 1910 novel "The Phantom of the Opera" by Gaston Leroux.  However, CBU's production is different from Frank Lloyd Webber's musical adaptation of the book. While the overall story is still about a phantom who lives under the Paris Opera House, there are differences, said director Debbie Prutsman.

"There are many small, fine details that are different and that add so much to the story line," she said. "I think the Yeston/Kopit version brings much more humanity to the character of the Phantom."

Prutsman is married to Dan Robinson, CBU's theatre technical director. She has worked professionally in musical theater for more than 30 years as an actor and director, and once the CBU theatre program booked the show, Prutsman was asked to direct.

There are challenges to telling this story, from space to the music to the number of performers, Prutsman said, but each challenge was overcome.

Lee Lyons, professor of theatre, created a second level on stage, to provide actors multiple levels in the story-telling. He also incorporated the use of video projections, Prutsman said.

The production's music features a distinct, classical sound while incorporating the story-telling. Dr. Angela Brand, associate professor of music, effectively blended the two styles, Prutsman said.

The cast consists of 24 CBU students, one music faculty member and six dancers from The Redlands Festival Ballet Company.

"It is nothing short of miraculous to find college students who have the theatrical prowess and technical know-how to pull off these characters," Prutsman said. "Those who see the show will be amazed by the skill and heart of the performers."

Ethan Park, a theatre senior, plays the title role of The Phantom.

"I am so excited for audiences to see this show. It will be grandiose, quite a spectacle to see and hear, but I hope they can take away something much deeper," he said. "This show is about love, about sacrifice, about appearances and judgment, and I hope they see the beauty in all the nuances."

Gabrielle Green, a theatre junior, plays the female lead, Christine. Green said her greatest challenge in preparing for the production was understanding the character who is soft spoken and naïve. Her biggest reward, Green said, is being able to sing the beautiful songs.

"I hope audiences love watching it as much as we love performing it," she said. "I hope that the audience really grasps the story for what it really is -- a tale about forgiveness and acceptance."

Performances begin Friday, April 10, at 7:30 p.m. and continue Saturday, April 11, with a 2 p.m. matinee and a 7:30 p.m. show. The play will resume Thursday, April 16 through Saturday, April 18, with performances each evening at 7:30 p.m. and a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday, April 19. General admission tickets are $15, with discounts offered for matinees, senior citizens and CBU students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Click here to purchase tickets online. For more information or to purchase tickets by telephone, call the Wallace Theatre box office at 951-343-4319.