One of the founding members of CG&SS in 1980, Leighton Phraner is long overdue to take center stage as one of our featured cast members. He was such a hit in his major roles, John Wellington Wells in The Sorcerer, Bunthorne in Patience, Major General Stanley in Pirates, Sir Joseph in Pinafore, Ko-ko in The Mikado (and many others), that audiences would applaud his entrances before he even spoke a word.
One of his most memorable presentations was as the temperamental dwarf in Rumpelstiltskin, which required tremendous physical effort since he played the entire show hunched over with knees bent almost to the floor.
Leighton began his professional career in New York City after graduating from Princeton. He performed many lead roles with the Hunter College G&S productions (where Bob Cumming directed), the Village Light Opera Group, and in both Pirates and Pinafore at Lincoln Center with the Little Orchestra Society.
Active with the New York Singing Teachers Assn. and President of the National Assn. of Teachers of Singing for several years, Leighton taught voice at 33 Riverside Drive (a home once owned by Rachmaninoff with Gershwin’s penthouse on the top floor), until coming to East Haddam in 1978 where he continued his teaching.
Always modest about his formidable talents, when congratulated on a role, he might respond dismissively (as Bunthorne would), “My soul has gone out into it. That was all. It was nothing worth mentioning, it occurs three times a day!” Unfortunately serious illness has now forced his retirement, but he still attends CG&SS functions and takes a lively interest in our productions.