The applause during Act 1 of Barbara Ingram School for the Arts’ “Phantom of the Opera” was no figment of the imagination, nor were the accolades from audience members during intermission Sunday afternoon.
“We’re very blessed and fortunate in Hagerstown to have a high school performance of this quality,” said John Lestitian, who watched the Sunday matinee from a box seat at The Maryland Theatre.
The downtown Hagerstown theater was packed for Sunday’s show, the fourth and final show of “Phantom” by Ingram’s students. Director Ruth Ridenour, lead theater teacher at the school just a few doors down from the theater, said the show filled about 4,600 seats for the four shows.
“To have a high school performance of this caliber is tremendous and a blessing for this community,” said Lestitian, 45, of Hagerstown. Lestitian said he saw “Phantom” on Broadway, in Washington, D.C., in Boston and in San Francisco.
“Amazing,” was how Boonsboro-area resident Michael Slifer described Sunday’s show. Slifer, 55, said he’s seen “Phantom” 10 times, including on Broadway.
“They are high school kids. I am really impressed” with the vocals, costumes, sets, all of it, he said.
“I think it is fantastic. I am so impressed that young kids can put on such a professional show,” said Sybil Attardi, 66, of Hagerstown. Attardi has seen “Phantom” on Broadway twice.
Attardi said Merrick Jensen, who portrayed Christine Daae, was magnificent, graceful and gorgeous.
During the first act, an audience member could be heard saying, “She is awesome,” after Ashley Warfield and other cast members left the stage following the song “Prima Donna.” Ashley portrayed Carlotta Giudicelli, a role that called for drama, humor and hitting some high notes.
“We’ve really become a family this year, more so than ever,” Ashley, 17, a junior, said of the show’s cast and crew.
Ryanna Waugh brought her family, including husband, Dion, to see “Phantom” because their daughter will be a freshman at Ingram next school year.
“It’s really good,” said Aiden Waugh, 14, of Maugansville, who is excited about studying dance at Ingram this fall.
Monique Broadus, 39, of Hagerstown, came to see her neighbor, Alex Moore, who portrayed Ubaldo Piangi in the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Broadus said she knew Alex could sing, but wanted to see his performance.