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Julia Picked as Phantom's Muse
5th December, 2013

What is it like being the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius? 

Hamilton soprano Julia Booth will soon be able to tell you, when she steps into the leading role of Christine in the Hamilton Operatic Society's upcoming production of The Phantom of the Opera.

Performing opposite Roy Snow's titular organ-playing basement-dweller, Booth will have the honour of performing in what is likely to be the largest and most expensive locally-produced musical ever staged in Hamilton.

Part of the Musical Theatre New Zealand Consortium tour of New Zealand, the semi-professional production of Phantom will be staged at Founders Theatre in May. The show premiered in Wellington in July for a four-week season and was recently staged for two weeks in Napier.

It features a $500,000 set and costumes created by production designer Allan Lees, who has worked for Opera New Zealand, the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Opera Australia and other international companies.

The Hamilton show will be produced by a local team led by director David Sidwell, musical director Campbell Douglas and choreographer Margaret Fairhead, working alongside professionals from around the country.

The cast is comprised of Waikato-based amateur and professional performers, with some of the company coming from outside the region. 

"The standard of those who auditioned was exceptionally high, the highest that we have probably seen," Hamilton Operatic chairman Jason Wade said.

"We have a large number of Waikato University music students who study voice and many Hamilton Operatic regulars also."

Both Booth and Snow come with no shortage of experience. Canadian-born Booth completed a Master of Music at Waikato University, where she was awarded the Wallace Corporation's Performer of the Year Blues Award and the Sir Edmund Hillary Medal for outstanding academic achievement.

She has also earned support from the Dame Malvina Major Foundation, both as an emerging artist with New Zealand Opera and as the winner of the New Zealand Aria Competition. She placed third in the Lexus Song Quest, which enabled her to study and perform in Florence and Rome.

The Phantom of the Opera will be staged at Founders Theatre from May 3 to 17. Tickets are available from Ticketek.