Phantom Fans Show Off

Larry Tetewsky, 50, and his wife, Janice Mergenhagen, 62, made it to Phantom Fan Week in Las Vegas despite a cruel scheduling dilemma. This is also the weekend a pirate convention takes place aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif.

"We cursed for a while," Tetewsky said.

The world’s first "Phantom of the Opera" convention kicked off Thursday morning at The Venetian’s Phantom Theatre, drawing superfans from around the globe to celebrate the long-running Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.

Continuing through Sunday, the convention includes Q&A sessions with cast members from "Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular" and demonstrations of costumes, makeup and the show’s famous giant chandelier.

"We just said, ‘Hey, we got crazy fans; wouldn’t it be fun if they came out and had a week of everything Phantom?’ " said Gary Leffler, director of marketing for the Vegas production, which opened in 2006.

The original production of the musical debuted in London in 1986, while the Broadway version opened in 1988. Both of those shows still are running.

About 150 fans attended the convention’s first event, a Q&A with Anthony Crivello during which the Las Vegas "Phantom" star revealed a closely guarded secret: It’s not him hanging from the chandelier at the end of the show. ("I can’t be in two places at the same time," Crivello said, explaining that the Phantom Theatre lacks a catwalk system.)

On Thursday morning, Leffler said about 300 fans already had registered and that more were expected as the weekend rolls forward.

Bonita Hammill traveled alone from Melbourne, Australia — where she has seen the show 106 times — specifically for Phantom Fans Week.

"It was something I had to do," said the 37-year-old nurse. "The Phantom’s a person you just want to hug because he’s an outsider but you want him to be accepted. And I’m a bit of a loner myself as well, and I’d love to be accepted."

Janis Sartin is such a fan, her dog bears the name Phantom.

"Well, it’s his middle name," said the 54-year-old grocery clerk from Castaic, Calif. "My husband bought him as a hunting dog, so his first name is Buck, for buckshot."

After they finished cursing, Tetewsky and Mergenhagen said they decided to shelve their pirate hats, because she has seen 125 "Phantom" performances — here and in New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Toronto.

"We’ve been places we never would have gone," Mergenhagen said. "We’ve met an incredible amount of people who we have become friends with. It’s a real community."

Every fan interviewed planned on donning period costumes for Thursday night’s masquerade ball, patterned after a pivotal scene from the musical.

Another buzz event is the keynote address by show director Hal Prince at 2 p.m. Saturday. According to Leffler, Prince has not returned to Las Vegas since the premiere — at least not on official "Phantom" business.

Lloyd Webber, who created the 1986 London musical the Las Vegas production abbreviates to 90 minutes, also was asked to speak. But, Leffler said he is "right in the crux" of putting together a "Phantom" sequel, scheduled to launch in London and New York next year.

Another thing Phantom Fans Week does not include is a backstage tour, which is available to 10 to 15 guests as part of a nightly $250 VIP package. ("It’s too tight back there," said a show spokeswoman.)

Instead, costumes and makeup will be displayed onstage at the 1,800-seat theater, where today at 10:30 a.m., two randomly chosen fans will receive a "Phantom and Christine" makeover.

Passes still are available for $250 to $475 by calling 414-9000.

Contact reporter Corey Levitan at clevitan@ or 702-383-0456.

News Videos
Jim Foley talks about 30 years of living HIV-positive
Jim Foley, who was diagnosed as HIV positive 30 years ago, talks at his home in Las Vegas on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Traffic Slows to a Crawl on I-15S Near Primm
Traffic slowed to a crawl around 2:30p Sunday, on I-15S near Primm, Nevada.
Homeless residents speak about safety
The homeless residents living at the corner of Owens Ave. and Main St. reflect on how they feel about their safety after two homeless men died, one was hit crossing the street and another was beat to death by another homeless man. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
CCSD Superintendent address alleged racially motivated threats at Arbor View
CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara gives update on alleged racially motivated threats against Arbor View High School, and says such threats will not be tolerated. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Super Bloom Near Lake Elsinore, California
Crowds packed the hills near Lake Elsinore on Saturday to capture a rare selfie amidst the super bloom of poppies turning the landscape purple. The super bloom was caused by the larger rainfall this year. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fiery accident in Las Vegas
A three-car accident on Spring Mountain Road around 6:30 pm on Monday night
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Stardust implosion anniversary
Twelve years ago today, the Stardust Resort and Casino was imploded. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Lawsuits filed against security contractors at Nevada National Security Site
Two lawsuits were filed today against the current and former government security contractors for the Nevada National Security Site, one on behalf of Jennifer Glover who alleges sexual discrimination and assault and the other on behalf of Gus Redding who alleges retaliation after he gave statements supporting Glover’s claims. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New housing option helps Las Vegas moms keep kids while kicking drugs
WestCare Nevada Women and Children’s Campus in Las Vegas has added a new transitional housing wing for women who have completed the inpatient treatment at the behavioral health nonprofit to help them as they go through outpatient treatment, shore up their finances and prepare to secure long-term housing. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Teenager in critical condition after being struck by an SUV in Henderson
Authorities were called about 2:45 p.m. to the scene in the 2100 block of Olympic Avenue, near Green Valley Parkway and Sunset Road. The teenager was taken to University Medical Center in critical condition. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Water Question Part 3: Conservation loves a crisis
Future growth in the Las Vegas Valley will rest almost entirely on the community’s ability to conserve its finite share of the Colorado River.
The Water Question Part 7: How much can we grow?
Many experts agree that Southern Nevada can continue to grow, so long as residents are willing to do what needs to be done to stretch our crucial resource as far as it will go.
The Water Question Part 6: How many people can Southern Nevada’s water sustain?
The number can swing wildly depending on a host of variables, including the community’s rates of growth, conservation efforts and the severity of drought on the Colorado River.
Mylar Balloon Demo
NV Energy presented a demonstration Wednesday to depict the damage that can be caused by the release of Mylar balloons.
Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students.
Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students. Educators from around the State are bringing the Red for Ed movement to the steps of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City, NV, and to the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Nature Conservancy Ranch
The Nature Conservancy just bought the 900-acre 7J Ranch at the headwaters of the Amargosa River, north of Beatty. The property could become a research station, though ranching will continue.
Swift water rescue at Durango Wash in Las Vegas
On Thursday, February 14, 2019, at approximately 8:42 a.m., the Clark County Fire Department responded to a report of a swift water incident where people were trapped in the Durango wash which is located near 8771 Halcon Ave. Personnel found one person who was trapped in the flood channel. The individual was transported to the hospital in stable condition. Video by Clark County Fire & Rescue.
Flooding at E Cheyenne in N. Las Vegas Blvd.
Quick Weather Around the Strip
Rain hits Las Vegas, but that doesn't stop people from heading out to the Strip. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries. The Cleveland Clinic will begin researching the brains of retired bull riders to understand the impact traumatic brain injuries have on cognition. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Matt Stutzman shoots arrows with his feet
Matt Stutzman who was born without arms shoots arrows with his feet and hits the bullseye with remarkable accuracy. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Secretary of Air Force Emphasizes the Importance of Nellis AFB
US Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson visited Nellis Air Force Base during Red Flag training and described how important the base is to the military.
Former Northwest Academy student speaks out
Tanner Reynolds, 13, with his mother Angela McDonald, speaks out on his experience as a former student of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff member Caleb Michael Hill. Hill, 29, was arrested Jan. 29 by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office on suspicion of child abuse.
Former Northwest Academy students speak out
Tristan Groom, 15, and his brother Jade Gaastra, 23, speak out on their experiences as former students of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff and excessive medication.
Disruption At Metro PD OIS Presser
A man claiming to be part of the press refused to leave a press conference at Metro police headquarters, Wednesday January 30, 2019. Officers were forced to physically remove the man. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience after the city began operating around the clock. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas parts ways with operator of homeless courtyard
Jocelyn Bluitt-Fisher discusses the transition between operators of the homeless courtyard in Las Vegas, Thursday Jan. 24, 2019.(Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police and Raiders partner with SafeNest
Las Vegas police and the Raiders partner with SafeNest on Project Safe 417 (the police code for domestic violence is 417). The program partners trained SafeNest volunteer advocates with Metropolitan Police Department officers dispatched to domestic violence calls, allowing advocates to provide immediate crisis advocacy to victims at the scene of those calls. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
North Las Vegas police chief discusses officer-involved shooting
North Las Vegas police chief Pamela Ojeda held a press conference Thursday, Jan. 24, regarding an officer-involved shooting that took place on Jan. 21. The incident resulted in the killing of suspect Horacio Ruiz-Rodriguez. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Home Front Page Footer Listing