A young, relatively unknown actor has been cast as the lead in the Arcadian Theatre Group's upcoming production The Phantom of the Opera.
Kyle Nozza, a University of Wollongong Law student, who began singing lessons three years ago, won the hearts of producers with his interpretation of the Phantom.
The musical, which has been in early production since June last year, will mark 50 years of community theatre for the Arcadians.
Director Malcolm White said there was so much talent casting the Phantom it was a difficult choice, but in the end it was 20-year-old Kyle who wowed them.
"What Kyle gave was magic," Mr White said. "It's not all about the voice, it's about the magical essence that comes from behind the mask. The mask can block so much to the audience, it's a barrier, but Kyle managed to come beyond that and touch us in ways that nobody else did."
Mr Nozza, who began acting at 15, has deferred his university studies this year to focus on performing, with his sights set on a professional stage career.
"I'd like to give theatre a go," he said. "The law isn't going anywhere and while I'm young this is my chance to give it a shot."
The Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, hailed as the most iconic musical in the world, has just been released for amateur rights and has more than 196 costumes and 50 cast members.
"It's the most spectacular musical ever made and my biggest challenge to date," added Mr White. Audiences can expect the chandelier and the boat coming out of the mist but Mr White has added his own stamp to the finale.
Liza Allen, president of the Miner's Lamp Theatre, said it was the first time The Phantom of the Opera had been staged in the Illawarra, with the community theatre group managing to keep tickets under $50.
"What better way to celebrate our 50th year. We don't want to make a lot of money, we'd rather our shows be accessible to everyone." The musical will run from August 15 to 14 at the Illawarra Performing Arts Theatre.