Javert, played by Lachlan Scheuber with Jean Valjean performed by Brad Villiers.
Javert, played by Lachlan Scheuber with Jean Valjean performed by Brad Villiers. Contributed

Rockhampton's Phantom of the Opera leads announced

WITH the return of some major talent to Rockhampton over the years, casting for local musical theatre performances has become more challenging.

Rockhampton Music Union has announced the lead roles for Phantom of the Opera, and will soon announce the chorus.

Lachlan Scheuber and Francesca Higgins - who play the Phantom and Christine - are thrilled to accept the roles of a lifetime, after what seems a lifetime away.

Both of them grew up performing in RMU youth and adult choirs and musicals before heading for the big smoke.

Scheuber headed to London in 2004, from where he toured with musical theatre troupes around the UK and on cruise ships.

He returned to Rockhampton in 2017, just in time to successfully audition for the role of Javert in RMU's 2017 production of Les Miserables.

Similarly, Francesca had just returned from a six-year stint in Sydney when she learned the role of Christine was up for grabs.

"I've been doing Phantom songs for years with my singing teachers; it's one of my all-time favourites,” said the B. Music (Music Theatre) graduate who is studying for a Masters in teaching.

Both leads admit to being daunted at the prospect of tacking roles which have been made famous by such stellar performers as Australia's Antony Warlow.

Scheuber, who teaches with Capricornia Distance Education, said he's got a lot to live up to.

"There have been very good people in this role but I'll work hard and hopefully do it justice,” he said.

Higgins said the role of Christine requires a lot of stamina but she's definitely up for the challenge.

"I thought I knew the show but it wasn't until I got this part I realised how massive is the range of singing, acting and dancing,” she said.

"Because it's more sung than spoken, and there's so many scene and costume changes, all the roles will face a lot of work.”

And while they will be focussed on their own performances, both are looking forward to witness the evolution of the backstage design.

"I'd love to see a moving boat across the lakes,” Higgins said.

Scheuber, who will wear a mask most the performance, is intrigued how the crashing chandelier will work.

"There's a few good things they can do with prosthetics and makeup,” he said.

"Phantom goes from evil to gentle, loud to soft so there are lot of extremities to the role.”

Both actors say they've noticed a quantum leap in the staging of local musicals since they trod the boards as Rockhampton youngsters.

"There's been a huge advance in the quality not only of sets and costumes, but in the very vocals of these local performances,” Scheuber said.

"The thing that gets me going about RMU, in particular, is that volunteers put these shows together do without the big budget.

"Nobody's getting paid; they're in it with a passion for theatre and a love of the stage.”

RMU has also announced it has cast Jacob Goves as Raoul, Katrina Christensen as Carlotta, Matthew Dennis as Monsieur Andree, Darryl Strelow as Monsieur Firmin, Jeanette McLennan as Madame Giry and Trinity March-Hoolihan as Meg.

Phantom of the Opera will go to stage in the Pilbeam Theatre between November 1 and 3.

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