Past students came back to campus to haunt Irvine Auditorium last night, filing into the smoke-filled, cavernous hall to hear a traditional organ-accompanied rendition of the silent film Phantom of the Opera. The evening's main event, attended by both graduated and current students, was the 1925 movie and accompanying organ music played by Don Raphael, who dressed for the part as the phantom. The crowd of about 150 was quiet for most of the 90-minute movie, since most noise was drowned out by the bellowing organ. Audience members seemed enchanted by the music, but most also laughed at the corny written dialogue and the melodramatic facial expressions of the actors. Just before the film, smoke filled the stage as the phantom was dragged off by the hunchback and the organ played by itself. The phantom walked down the aisle minutes later chanting "I'm out of my dungeon," and began playing again as the movie was shown. The organ-accompanied Phantom showing has been a University tradition for the past 18 years. Ned Sanyour, a 1988 College graduate, said he drove from New Jersey to see his fifth show. "It's nice to go to Irvine and hear what was meant to be heard here," he said. Many former University students were in attendance, and Schoebrun called the performance "the last of a tradition of students coming to Irvine to watch a film." Before the film, the crowd followed the lead of the hunchback -- 1988 College graduate Ben Schoenbrun -- in singing a host of Halloween carols, including Pumpkin Wonderland, Pumpkin Bells, and I'm Dreaming of the Great Pumpkin. More than 20 students showed up in costume for the first of two shows, and a contest followed the singing. Costumes ranged from traditional clowns and witches to variations on the Bush family and an investment banker. Schoenbrun said he thought the first part of the evening "gives college students a chance to dress up and act like kids for a change." A person dressed as Data, from the new Star Trek, and a young child dressed as Superwoman won by garnering the most applause. Kevin Chun, the Organ Society's administrator, said that "using music to communicate a story without words is fascinating." Sanyour said he enjoys the performance every time because "each show is interpreted differently." He said the phantom "can play the audience depending on their response." But although everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, the crowd was substantially smaller than shows in the past. Chun said that there was minimal advertising for the show this year.Comments powered by Disqus
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