Winters Theatre Company presents a different kind of phantom

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Appearing in “Phantom of the Opera House” are, from left, (front) Dona Akers, Ana Kormos, Alexis Velasquez, Elizabeth Williams and Emma Johnson; (back) Jim Hewlett, Jason Williams, Jesse Akers and Trent Beeby. Courtesy photo

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By GERMAINE HUPE/Winters Theatre Company

The Winters Theatre Company’s dinner theater production, “The Phantom of the Opera House,” will be presented at the Palms Playhouse on Saturday, May 19, and Sunday, May 20. The Palms is a very appropriate venue because it was called The Winters Opera House over 130 years ago and continued to be known by that title until its restoration.

Set in 1890, the play is an original melodrama and concerns a fictional acting family, the Burbages, who inherit the Winters property and present plays and vaudeville acts there. Robert Burbage, a former Shakespearean actor, is the owner-manager of the Opera House. His family includes his actress wife, Portia, and her younger sister, Rosalind, who is now the company’s leading lady.

After initial success, the Opera House has recently fallen on hard times and is in financial difficulty following a series of accidents, and far worse, the appearance of a ghastly creature who haunts the premises.  Attendance has fallen off, and the Burbage family faces the time-honored situation of melodrama plots, foreclosure and loss of their way of life.

The local residents have dubbed the apparition “The Phantom of the Opera House,” but this specter is actually a villainous former actor, Junius Brutus Ravensby, who hates the Burbage family because they testified against him and caused his incarceration in earlier days on the East Coast. Ravensby is determined to destroy the Opera House and all those associated with it. The Burbage family is not easily defeated, however. They join forces with the local sheriff, former acting friend and especially manly hero, John Garrick.  Together, they plot to foil the villain and save the Opera House.

Since melodramas feature interaction with the audience, patrons who wish to “get into the act” are encouraged to dress in 1890’s style, but costumes are optional.  The dinner will be catered by the Buckhorn and includes the restaurant’s famous tri-tip menu. A vegetarian lasagna option is available.

The Palms doors will open at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. All tickets are $45 and advance purchase is encouraged. For tickets, go to palmsplayhouse.com, winterstheatre.org, or call 530-795-4014.

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