He’s here — the Phantom of the Opera.
And it is Leigh Hindle.
The Shepparton man has beaten many other hopefuls to grab the starring role in Echuca-Moama Theatre Company’s production.
And the news came as a huge, but welcome shock.
‘‘I’m still pinching myself at times,’’ Mr Hindle said.
‘‘Firstly, it was just disbelief. But it turned to sheer excitement pretty quickly, before going to nervousness, then thrilled. Just a rollercoaster of emotions.’’
The father of two, who works at Shepparton coffee roaster Evoke Coffee, said Phantom was the first show he had experienced, seeing it when he was eight or nine at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre.
‘‘Mum had a love for theatre and she took me along and I was hooked,’’ he said.
And landing the role means the world to him.
‘‘It has been a dream from the moment I saw the show,’’ he said.
However, with it comes a huge amount of responsibility and pressure.
‘‘A show of this size, that will be bringing so much of the community together, will always have great amount of pressure tied to it,’’ Mr Hindle said.
‘‘That goes for cast, crew and everyone else involved. We all want the show to be a huge success.
‘‘And with the support I have with me from home and the work we are all willing to put into it, it will be amazing.’’
Mr Hindle has plenty of musical experience, having been involved in a couple of shows in high school, Aladdin with Geelong Society of Operatic and Dramatic Art and part of the Australian Children’s Choir out of Melbourne for nine years.
He only rediscovered his love for it again 18 months ago, when he started with Shepparton Theatre Arts Group in its 10 in Ten shows and its rendition of Ordinary Days earlier this year.
‘‘I loved playing Jason in Ordinary Days last year, but I don’t think they will mind me saying that the title role in Phantom of the Opera will now be my biggest role by far.’’
Apart from getting to know some amazing new people, Mr Hindle was looking forward to the audiences reaction.
‘‘I have seen the passion, the sweat and probably the tears that the directors and crew have already put into this,’’ he said.
‘‘Throw into that the immense talent I have seen in my fellow cast members, honestly, this show will be an unstoppable force that I know the audiences will love. I can’t wait.’’
Phantom of the Opera will be performed at the Echuca Paramount Theatre from May 25 to June 9.