Melanie Day was used to the pleas.
"Students would always beg me to do 'The Phantom of the Opera,'" said Day, drama teacher at Box Elder High. "I would have to tell them it wasn't available because it was still on Broadway."
So when she heard the show would be available to schools, Day entered her school in the lottery, and got lucky. Box Elder High was one of 40 institutions nationwide selected to do the show, she said.
And Box Elder High would be the first school in Utah to open the show, followed by productions of the other lottery winners, St. George's Dixie High School, and Spanish Fork and Pleasant Grove high schools.
"I never dreamed I would be directing it," Day said.
Students love the tragic, romantic story, written in 1909 by French author Gaston Leroux. It's about a Parisian opera house, the resident diva, and a young woman with a beautiful voice who is unlikely to get a chance onstage until a "Phantom" music teacher takes her on as a student. But can the masked Phantom be trusted?
Students also admire the soaring music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, who opened the show on Broadway in 1986.
But there was one consideration that leapt to mind: Box Elder High School was going to need the iconic chandelier, which crashes to the stage at a key point in the story.
For that, Day turned to lighting designer Braden Howard, of Brigham City.
"It's a huge show," Howard said. "I've worked with Melanie for a long time. We grew up together at the Heritage (Community) Theatre. So when she was awarded rights to 'Phantom,' we wondered how we were going to do the chandelier."
The Broadway stage chandelier weighed nearly a thousand pounds, in part because it was battery-operated, and batteries are heavy.
Howard designed his own chandelier to have fabricated metal rings, painted gold; flickering lights inside white globes; draped ropes of beads; and hundreds of dangling crystals, rescued from a demolished hotel by a local woman who is donating them to the cause.
Students spent much of this week constructing the chandelier, which will be about seven feet in diameter and six feet tall. Power will come from an electric cord, and Howard estimates the whole chandelier will weigh about 150 pounds. A system of counterweights and a double-strength cable will make the chandelier easy to move and safe from unintended "crashes."
"We have a great cast and crew of 135 students, and great designers and wonderful support from the community," Day said. "Everybody is pitching in. This show is going to be beyond what you would ever expect to see from a high school."