Oklahoma City Ballet is just in time for Halloween with 'Phantom of the Opera,' two years in the making

features a new score by composer Kermit Polling, who also will conduct the Oklahoma City Philharmonic during Saturday and Sunday's shows, and original choreography by company ballet master Jacob Sparso. The two previously collaborated on last season's hit production of "The Wizard of Oz."

"We knew we wanted to work with Kermit again since his score for 'Oz' was absolutely delightful. We knew he could do something great for 'Phantom,'" said Robert Mills, OKC Ballet artistic director. "I also know Jacob is a great storyteller, so I asked him to do the choreography, and he jumped at the chance."

Mills said OKC Ballet has been programmed into Halloween weekend at Civic Center Music Hall for many years now and, as with last year's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," wanted to continue the trend of staging a show that embraces the holiday.

"'Phantom' has many layers within the story, but the simple, eerie element of a disfigured, psychotic man that lives in the cellars of the Paris Opera House seemed pretty fitting for Halloween," he said.

The two-year process of creating the new ballet began with Sparso developing a libretto to serve as the narrative framework.

The end result is a score that Mills described as lush, romantic and, at times, dark and brooding. The choreography goes beyond the steps, he said, providing each dancer the opportunity to portray their character with depth and understanding.

The production includes elaborate sets and exciting visuals accompanied by a host of colorful, period costumes designed by resident costume designer, Michael Jones.

Following Sunday's matinee, OKC Ballet, Safe Kids Oklahoma and Downtown OKC will host "Phantom Fest," a safe, indoor trick-or-treating event with candy, games and an opportunity for kids to meet and take photos with the cast. As part of the event, children are encouraged to attend the performance in costume.

Mills noted parents shouldn't be concerned about "Phantom" being too scary for young audience members.

"It is completely kid-friendly," he said. "They will love the dancing, the sets, costumes and technical tricks, and the story is quite easy to follow." "?Eric Webb

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