Saul Gibney is the only Nelsonian on in Blenheim Musical Theatre’s production of Phantom of the Opera. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Saul’s Phantom commute

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Saul Gibney’s commute has been longer than most.

For the past seven months the Nelsonian has been heading over to Blenheim to rehearse for his role in Marlborough Musical Theatre’s production of Phantom of the Opera.

The musical tells the story of a masked figure who lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, exercising a reign of terror over all who inhabit it. He falls madly in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine, and devotes himself to creating a new star by nurturing her extraordinary talents and by employing all of the devious methods at his command.

Saul is set to play Raoul, Christine’s lover.

“The role has been great,” says Saul. “It’s one of those bucket list roles that I’ve always wanted to do.”

However, he almost didn’t get the chance as he was unable to attend the original auditions.

“But after the auditions they were struggling to cast this particular role so Nelson Youth Theatre mentioned me to the Blenheim producers. I drove over on a random Tuesday and auditioned.”

He became the only Nelsonian in the cast, having to head over the hill up to four times a week for several months.

“It’s been pretty intense, but the cast has been really welcoming and I haven’t felt like an outsider at all.”

Luckily the past week or so has been a bit easier, with him using a specially sign-written car promoting the show.

Saul says the budget for the production is $150,000 and is using the professional consortium set as well as sound engineers from Christchurch.

“It’s such a high standard of musical theatre.”

He will play alongside classically-trained Canadian performer Aria Bakker, who landed the role of Christine.

“Phantom requires a big stage and the ASB Theatre is perfect for it,” he says.

Saul, who will spend two weeks in Blenheim during the performance, also hopes that Nelsonians will come over for the experience. He already knows several people making the trip.

“It will be well worth it.”

The show is on from May 8-18. Tickets range from $25 to $75 and can be purchased through Ticketek.