The Phantom of the Fort Payne Opera House

This year's play will be a comedic take on "The Phantom of the Opera" by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

This weekend’s festivities in downtown Fort Payne will feature several musicians, artists and along with them, the Boom Days Play.

This year’s play is titled “Phantom of the Fort Payne Opera House,” and is under the direction of Eddie McPherson.

McPherson said the short comedy would be performed on the stage of the Fort Payne Opera House this Saturday.

The play is free and air conditioned with two-morning show-times commencing at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. and two additional performances at 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

McPherson is known for writing the plays for the DeKalb County Children’s Advocacy Center Dinner Theatre. However, last year he wrote and performed his first play titled “Granny Dollar and the Trail of Tears” at the Boom Days Heritage Festival.

He said the cast is excited about performing this Saturday and thinks the audience will enjoy it.

“This year we are paying homage to the Fort Payne Opera House. It’s kind of a tribute to the opera house in an entertaining way,” McPherson said.

According to McPherson, he thought of doing a parody of Phantom of the Opera for this year’s play earlier in the spring.

“We took the whole story of Phantom of the Opera and put it into a 20-minute comedy,” he said.

Instead of the play taking place in Paris, it's 1889 Fort Payne when the opera house was still named Rice Opera House after the man who built it.

McPherson said the cast rehearsed all day last Saturday and will also rehearse a couple of times Friday night before the opening performance this Saturday.

According to McPherson, the play is set at the turn of the century when the Rice Opera House was built to attract more investors to the newly formed Fort Payne and Iron Company.

“What most folks didn’t know at the time was that a lonely hermit set up housekeeping down underneath the floors of this historic structure,” he said. “He was in love with the beautiful and talented actress, Christina, and would do anything to have her as his own.”

The cast of the show features Kyle Hancock, Tony Dobbs, Amanda Taylor, Linda Wooten, Sandra Lea, Miranda Chambers, Brian Baine, Todd Simpson, and Judge Jeremy Taylor.

“Watch dummies fall from the catwalk, chandeliers crash on top of actors’ heads while they all over-act this 20-minute comedy with zeal and silliness – all while trying to upstage one another,” McPherson said.

McPherson said the idea of performing a play at Boom Days came to him three years ago after his first time at the festival.

“I saw how big it was and I thought this is really good,” he said.

He said the festival reminded him of his visits to Six Flags as a child and going to the Crystal Pistol for a 15 to 20-minute show they performed throughout the day.

The Fort Payne Opera House is located on 510 Gault Ave. N. For information on McPherson’s plays or books follow him on Facebook at @eddiemcphersonplays.

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