Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts (APA) welcomed Broadway star Michael Crawford to the HBUHSD Auditorium to view the closing matinee of “The Phantom of the Opera” on Sunday, March 24. Originator of the title role in the 1986 Broadway musical, Crawford attended APA’s performance and gave a talkback to the cast, crew, orchestra and audience after the show.

“This program is so special because it pairs conventional curriculum with performing arts, crafting youngsters who will grow up to be well-rounded individuals,” said Crawford.

APA junior, Patrick McCormick, played the role of Phantom in this production and was praised by Crawford for his seemingly effortless connection to the character. Crawford shared anecdotes, personal methods and advice with the cast, emphasizing the power of emotion and pulling from real life experiences to breathe life into theatrical roles.

Crawford was additionally blown away by the orchestra, costumes, set design and technical elements of the show. “I cannot believe this is almost completely executed by high school students,” he admitted. “Incredible.”

“The Phantom of the Opera” was one of the biggest shows in APA history, with tickets selling so rapidly that an additional evening performance was added for the very first time. Crawford’s appearance during the final performance was an amazing end to the historic seven-show run.