Beginning Monday evening, July 27, there will be a new ‘man behind the mask’ in the Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera, which is the longest-running show in Broadway history. John Cudia, the current star of the National Tour, will take over the role on Broadway after a nearly decade-long association with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, directed by Harold Prince.
Hailed for his starring performance by critics across the country as “Powerful” (Washington Post), “Superb – a vocal powerhouse” (San Francisco Chronicle), “Grand, tender and menacing” (Hollywood Reporter), “Resplendent” (Toronto Globe & Mail) and “A sexier, more outré ‘Phantom’” (Chicago Tribune), Mr. Cudia will return to the Broadway production, where last summer he stepped in to play the title role for a limited engagement of 10 weeks at The Majestic Theatre (247 West 44th Street). This time, he’ll be taking over the role officially.
Mr. Cudia will succeed current and longtime Phantom star Howard McGillin. With his record-breaking tally of over 2,450 performances and counting, Mr. McGillin has long been the ‘Phantom’ longevity champ in New York – having played the title role more than any other performer on Broadway. Now, after 10 wonderful years since his first of many engagements with the production, he has decided to pursue other theatrical ventures and will play his final performance on Saturday evening, July 25.
Mr. McGillin will be going out on top with a new record as well, as his tally has now cemented his status as the World’s Longest-Running ‘Phantom.’ (In second place with just under 2,400 performances is the late Rob Guest, who played the role in Australia and New Zealand. Americans Franc D’Ambrosio – the longtime record-holder before Guest – and Brad Little follow with over 2,100 performances each.)
No stranger himself to Phantom longevity, Mr. Cudia and his return to the New York Company is the latest chapter in his long history with the show, which began almost ten years ago. He first joined the National Tour in November 1999 as a Swing and cover for the leading role of ‘Raoul.’ After only eight months, he took over as ‘Raoul,’ which he played from July 2000 through March 2002, earning a National Broadway Touring Award nomination. He also covered the title role. (It was on this tour that he met while performing opposite his future wife, Broadway actress Kathy Voytko.) In October 2002, he joined the Broadway Company as ‘Raoul,’ a role that he would play in New York for over 2½ years and 750 performances, through May 2005. During this time, he also continued to cover the title role. He next took over as ‘The Phantom’ on the National Tour in April 2006, playing it for nearly 700 performances, through November 2007. In the summer of 2008, he stepped into the title role in the Broadway production for a limited engagement of 10 weeks, from May through July 2008. He returned to the National Tour in November 2008 for the recent Los Angeles and San Francisco engagements, and has and will continue to perform with the tour until his final performance in Minneapolis on May 24.
After his final date with the National Tour and prior to joining the Broadway production, Cudia and his wife will celebrate the birth of their first child.
With his recent engagements on the National Tour, John Cudia has played to rave reviews. In the sold-out L.A. and San Francisco engagements earlier this year, the San Francisco Chronicle cheered, “John Cudia as The Phantom is superb – a vocal powerhouse who delivers a heartbreaking performance perfectly balanced between longing and revenge.” The Hollywood Reporter raved, “John Cudia is a grand Phantom, full of romantic longing, erotic obsession and just the right touch of madness born of deep despair. His handsome tenor can be both tender or menacing, and in the final unmasking scene he brings a stirring emotional reality to the evening’s gothic thrills.”
His reviews from other major market outlets from his previous years with the National Tour have been equally effusive. “The resplendent John Cudia pulls off a miracle here,” raved The Toronto Globe & Mail. “His Phantom is vocally powerful with enough menace, enough emotion and enough cheekiness to humanize it. His virtues shine!” The Toronto Star wrote, “Cudia’s Phantom is a powerful figure with considerable vocal prowess that moves us,” and The Toronto Sun proclaimed, “the talented Cudia excels at passion!” In The Chicago Tribune, he was hailed as “a sexier, more outré Phantom!” and The Chicago Sun-Times noted, “with plenty of charisma, the first-rate Cudia is a most imposing Phantom, with a clarion voice and unaffected acting style.” The Washington Post cheered, “The proceedings appreciably quicken whenever Cudia is on duty. The vocally-powerful performer creates moments of pulse-raising epiphany!”
Having also performed in the Broadway cast of Les Misérables (during its original run), he holds the distinction of being the only actor to have played both major leading roles of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables and the title role in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.
In addition to his critically-acclaimed runs in Phantom (on Broadway and tour) and Les Misérables (on Broadway), Cudia last year played Jean Valjean in the highly-successful production of Les Misérables at the Marriott Theatre in Chicago, one of the first five regional theaters in the United States to win the rights to perform the show. His resume also includes such leading roles as tenor Tony Candolino in Master Class (Portland Stage), the title role in Jesus Christ Superstar (Carousel Theater), Freddy in My Fair Lady (Westchester Broadway Theater) and Lt. Cable in South Pacific opposite Cathy Rigby (Casa Manana), as well as in productions at Paper Mill Playhouse, North Shore Music Theater, Pioneer Theater and St. Louis Repertory. His concert appearances include The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber with Liz Callaway and Alice Ripley and performing as a featured tenor soloist with the Orchestra of St. Peter by the Sea in his home state of New Jersey. John earned his BA from Fordham University.
Mr. Cudia is only the 12th actor to take over the role of ‘The Phantom’ on Broadway during the production’s more than 21-year run. He follows (in order): Michael Crawford, Timothy Nolen, Cris Groenendaal, Steve Barton, Kevin Gray, Mark Jacoby, Marcus Lovett, Davis Gaines, Thomas James O’Leary, Hugh Panaro and Howard McGillin, as well as four additional temporary replacements: Jeff Keller, Ted Keegan, Brad Little and Gary Mauer.
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 Tony Awards including Best Musical. Since its Broadway debut on January 26, 1988, the musical has grossed over $720 million, making it the highest-grossing show in Broadway history. Having since surpassed Cats record by a phenomenal 3 years and 1,300 performances, it has now played over 8,800 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, over 65,000 performances have been seen by 80 million people in 25 countries and 124 cities. There are currently ten productions around the world: London, New York, Budapest (Hungary), Osaka (Japan), Warsaw (Poland), Copenhagen (Denmark), Perth (Australia), Buenos Aires (Argentina), the U.S. National Tour and a revised production in Las Vegas at The Venetian.
Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber recently confirmed that he has greenlit production on a sequel to the show, Phantom: Love Never Dies.
Based on the classic novel 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.
Continuing in their roles in the Broadway cast are Marni Raab (Christine, Jennifer Hope Wills returns June 1), Ryan Silverman (Raoul), George Lee Andrews (Monsieur André), David Cryer (Monsieur Firmin), Patricia Phillips (Carlotta), Rebecca Judd (Madame Giry), Evan Harrington (Piangi), Heather McFadden (Meg Giry) and Elizabeth Loyacano (Christine at certain performances).
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 Bjornson, 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 performance schedule for The Phantom of the Opera is Monday evenings at 8 PM, Tuesday evenings at 7PM, Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8 PM, with matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 PM. Ticket prices range from $26.50 – $121.50. To order tickets visit telecharge.com or call (212) 239-6200.