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Henderson hosts show that combines silent movies, live actors

About 10 years ago, Kevin Saunders Hayes went to the dollar store in search of new underwear.

He left with an idea for a new take on old movies, something combining his musical expertise with classic silent films.

This weekend, that idea will be on display in Vox Lumiere’s version of "Phantom of the Opera" at the Henderson Pavilion. But don’t dismiss it as yet another rendition of a stage classic; this "Phantom" is anything but typical.

The concept, Hayes says, is "rock concert meets silent film." A cast of eight will perform live while the classic silent film "Phantom of the Opera," starring Lon Cheney as the Phantom, is projected onto a screen.

The live actors give voice to the characters in the film, both in spoken words and song. The music is original, written and arranged by Hayes, who has, for the past 15 years, earned a living in Hollywood as a composer and songwriter. To date, he has scored about 45 feature films, documentaries and shows.

"It’s like we’re performing the soundtrack to the film but it’s much more than that," Hayes says of his production company, Vox Lumiere.

Actors and band members wear costumes appropriate for the film; they interact with characters in the movie as well as serving as their voices, Hayes says.

Vox Lumiere, a combination of the Latin word for "voice" and the French word for "light," started off as an experiment. Hayes is often called to either write songs or compose music for film. Rarely is he called to do both.

"I had this idea to do both and I wondered, ‘What director in his right mind would let me do that with his movie?’ " Hayes recalls. "I came up with ‘nobody!’ "

Around that time, in need of new underwear, Hayes visited a dollar store.

"There was a bin that said ‘silent movies, $1,’ " Hayes says. That’s when he realized, he could do soundtracks for silent movies. "Of all the ah-ha moments to have, standing in an Odd Lots, looking for underwear. And I came away with silent films."

At first, the whole thing was a soundtrack idea that would serve as an example of his musical abilities.

His friends volunteered to sing the music. It didn’t take long for a festival organizer to ask Hayes to perform something live. An invitation to perform at the Avignon Opera house in France led to Vox Lumiere’s second production, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

Hayes and his friends continued to perform around the world, usually for nothing more than travel costs and room and board. It was a hobby, in a way. About five years ago, Hayes’ wife told him, "Maybe you should pay attention to this thing."

Now, Vox Lumiere is almost a full-time job for Hayes. It has received Grammy nominations, a nationally televised PBS special and two 21st Century Filmmaker Awards.

Vox Lumiere presents "Phantom of the Opera" Friday and Saturday at the Henderson Pavilion, 200 S. Green Valley Parkway. Shows start at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $10.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit HendersonLive.com, call 267-4849 or visit the Henderson Pavilion box office Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at spadgett@ reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564. Follow @StripSonya on Twitter.

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