A new Raoul for Broadway

A new principal cast member has been announced for the Broadway production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, the longest-running show in Broadway history. Produced by Cameron Mackintosh/Really Useful Group, Inc. and directed by Harold Prince, the musical recently celebrated an unprecedented 21 Years in New York, where it plays at The Majestic Theatre (247 West 44th Street).

Ryan Silverman, who previously starred as ‘Raoul’ in the Las Vegas production, will take over the role on Broadway starting Friday evening, April 24. He succeeds current and long-time star Tim Martin Gleason, whose final performance will be Thursday evening, April 23.

Mr. Silverman recently left the Vegas production, having played ‘Raoul’ from August 20, 2007 to February 10, 2008. He’s one of three stars of the Vegas production to join the Broadway Company, following Tim Martin Gleason (who created the role of ‘Raoul’ there and who Mr. Silverman replaced) and Elizabeth Loyacano (who created the role of ‘Christine’ there and who has been the ‘Christine’ Alternate on Broadway since December 2007).

In the Broadway production’s more than 21 years, Mr. Silverman becomes only the thirteenth actor to be cast as ‘Raoul’ (not including alternates and understudies). He follows, in order: Steve Barton, Kevin Gray, Davis Gaines, Hugh Panaro, Keith Buterbaugh, Ciaran Sheehan, Brad Little, Gary Mauer, Jim Weitzer, Michael Shawn Lewis, John Cudia and Tim Martin Gleason.

Ryan Silverman just returned from London, where he performed at the Olivier Awards, having starred as Tony in the Olivier-nominated West End engagement of West Side Story. That run was part of the musical’s 50th Anniversary International Tour, in which Silverman also starred. He recently performed the role of Karl in the Encores! production of Music in the Air opposite Kristin Chenoweth. He made his Broadway debut in Cry Baby and his other New York credits include both The Pirates of Penzance (Pirate King u/s) and The Most Happy Fella at New York City Opera. He’s toured nationally as Sky in Mamma Mia! and was a cast member of the Chicago production of Wicked (Fiyero u/s). Regional credits include Thoroughly Modern Millie (Jimmy), West Side Story (Tony), Cinderella (Prince) and Grease (Danny). Hailing from Sherwood Park, Alberta, his Canadian credits include Hello, Dolly! (Cornelius), Forever Plaid (Smudge), Sweeney Todd (Anthony), Blood Brothers (Eddie) and Assassins (Booth). This Saturday, March 14, Mr. Silverman will perform as a special guest at James Barbour’s weekly concert series Love Songs at Sardi’s.

The longest-running show in Broadway history (a feat it achieved in 2006 when it surpassed the then-record run of Cats), The Phantom of the Opera is the winner of 7 1988 Tony Awards including Best Musical. Since its Broadway debut on January 26, 1988, the musical has grossed over $715 million, making it the highest-grossing show in Broadway history. Total New York attendance is at 13 million. Having since surpassed Cats’ record by a phenomenal 3 years and 1,200 performances, it has now played over 8,700 performances – the only show in Broadway history to do so – and all with no end in sight.

Its international success – equally staggering – is represented by total worldwide grosses estimated at over $5 billion. This colossal figure makes Phantom the most successful entertainment venture of all time, surpassing not only any other stage production, but also far surpassing the world’s highest-grossing film Titanic (at $1.2 billion) and such other blockbusters as The Lord of the Rings, Jurassic Park and Star Wars. Worldwide attendance is over 80 million people. Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber recently confirmed that he has greenlit production on a sequel to the show, Phantom: Love Never Dies.

Base on the classic novel Le Fantôme de L’Opéra by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of a masked figure who lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, exercising a reign of terror over all who inhabit it. He falls madly in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine, and devotes himself to creating a new star by nurturing her extraordinary talents and by employing all of the devious methods at his command.

The Phantom of the Opera has music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and is directed by Harold Prince. Lyrics are by Charles Hart (with additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe) and the book is by Richard Stilgoe and Andrew Lloyd Webber. The Phantom of the Opera has production design by the late Maria Björnson, lighting by Andrew Bridge and sound by Martin Levan. Musical staging and choreography is by Gillian Lynne. Orchestrations are by David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The Phantom of the Opera stars Howard McGillin in the title role with Marni Raab as ‘Christine’ and Tim Martin Gleason as ‘Raoul’ (through April 23). Having donned the mask over 2,300 times, Mr. McGillin holds the record for having performed the title role more than any other actor in the Broadway production. The musical also co-stars George Lee Andrews (‘Monsieur André’; Mr. Andrews is the only cast member to have been with the Broadway production for the entire run), David Cryer (‘Monsieur Firmin’), Patricia Phillips (‘Carlotta’), Evan Harrington (‘Piangi’) and Polly Baird (‘Meg Giry’). At certain performances, Elizabeth Loyacano plays ‘Christine’.

The regular performance schedule for The Phantom of the Opera is Monday and Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. and Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m. with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2 p.m. For tickets, $26.25-$121.50, call Tele-charge at (212) 239-6200, visit www.telecharge or visit The Majestic Theatre box office (247 West 44th Street).

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