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PHANTOM OF THE COUNTRY OPERA Music by Michael Duff. Lyrics by Cheri Coons. Book by Sean Grennan and Kathy Santen; Synopsis This hilarious country and western send-up of "The Phantom of the Opera" takes place backstage at the Country Palace in Nashville, Tennessee, where former operatic ingenue Christina Joseph gets a job singing back-up to the "Reigning Queen of Country Music." Changing her name to Chrissy Joe Jenkins, Christina finds a mentor in Aaron, the mysterious janitor who turns out to be a closet composer with a fabulous recording studio in the Palace's basement, who guides her to stardom at the Country Palace... STORY At La Scala., we see “backstage” and “onstage” spaces. The ensemble, Gabriella, Antonio and Chrissy are performing “onstage.” The two divas are trying mightily to upstage each other. “Ho paura molto agitato quatro fromaggi!” and “Mezzo-soprano Lucretia Borgia,” they sing. The upstaging continues until Gabriella begins her dramatic death, “Salmonella! Salmonella!,” and she dies. The Gabriella exits to the “backstage area.” She complains to her husband Carlo that the American has upstaged her and demands that she be fired. “But the Opera, she’s not finished!” Gabriella will take Chrissy’s place for the second act. Chrissy enters the backstage and Carlo kisses her hand saying the contracts for the next season are ready. She hesitates. Though her successful opera career is what her mother always wanted, Chrissy is not happy. Just as she resolves to quit, she is summoned back to America by the Guild of Opera artists. She sings “Somebody’s Calling Me Home,” as the rest of the ensemble continues the Opera onstage. Chrissy prepares for her entrance. The ensemble is dancing in a large vat of grapes “Scusi! Scusi! Basta Jacuzzi.” Meanwhile, Gabriella, dressed in an identical costume, enters from the other side. They both sing while the ensemble tries to figure out whom to follow. In a panic, Carlo calls out to bring down the curtain. The chandelier appears from above. The music continues as lights fade; a singer holds a note while the underlying music becomes more “country.” The singer’s upper costume tears away revealing a country costume. Now Carlo is in front of The Country Palace. He sings “Street Singer.” A chorus of guys and gals enters singing “everybody here’s got a suitcase full of rhinestone, fringe and cowboy boots/and everybody here’s got a briefcase full of two-step tunes and heartache.” As they sing, Chrissy and Skipper enter, when suddenly a pickpocket removes Chrissy’s wallet from her purse. Skipper trips him as he tries to get away. Officer Tammy Fay June Ellie Fay Crenshaw arrives and demands the wallet from the thief warning him “I am a weapon.” Skipper pipes in “Youth Nabs Cornpone Capone--Nashville safe again!” (Skipper reads the Inquirer and the Star every week and can’t help making headlines for everything he experiences.) Skipper introduces himself as Sally Barker’s son, the Queen of Country. He asks Chrissy if she’d like to go to hear his mother sing. Skipper and Chrissy sing a reprise of “Country Tune.” Inside the Country Palace, Skipper and Chrissy find their seats. Major Billy introduces his wife Miss Sally. She sings about her life as a hog-butcher’s daughter in “Sally” “It was being reared with ham that got me where I am.” She starts another song but is interrupted by the entrance of a flying pig. They decide to call it a night, reminding the audience that the big Country Music Extravaganza is only two days away. Major Billy flirts with one of the backup singers, Sally gets mad, has her fired and sets an audition for tomorrow morning to replace her. Though Chrissy has never done that kind of singing, Skipper talks her into going to the audition. If all goes well, they can make their debut together. In Sally’s dressing room, Sally and Billy start a fight singing “For Better, for Worse.” “I am the headlights, you are the deer.... I am the trailer, you’re the tornado.” By the end of the song, they’ve made up. But Sally can’t understand why things keep going wrong right in the middle of her songs. Maybe it’s your ghost, he