A new leading lady 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 is in its phenomenal 21st year in New York, playing at The Majestic Theatre (247 West 44th Street).
Marni Raab , who previously starred as ‘Christine’ across the country and around the world on both the Asian World Tour and the U.S. National Tour, will take over the role on Broadway starting Wednesday evening, August 20. She succeeds current star Jennifer Hope Wills during Ms. Wills’ maternity leave. Wills’ final performance will be Saturday evening, August 16 and she is expected to return in June 2009. [In between Ms. Wills and Ms. Raab – from Monday evening, August 18 through Wednesday matinee, August 20 – the role of ‘Christine’ will be played by current ‘Christine’ Alternate Elizabeth Loyacano.]
Ms. Raab has a long history with PHANTOM. She made her PHANTOM debut with the U.S. Tour in September 2001 as the ‘Mirror Bride’ and a ‘Christine’ cover, eventually moving up to the ‘Christine’ Alternate through December 2003. She originated the role of ‘Christine’ for the Asian World Tour, which premiered in December 2004 in Shanghai, and continued with the engagements in Seoul, Taipei and Hong Kong through August 2006.
Following her time with the Asian Tour, she rejoined the U.S. Tour, this time as ‘Christine,’ playing the role across the country from September 2006 to September 2007. Ms. Raab made her Broadway debut in PHANTOM earlier this year with a temporary stint as a ‘Christine’ cover, prior to rejoining the tour as ‘Christine’ in June 2008. She’s now making her official Broadway ‘Christine’ debut.
Ms. Raab’s additional credits include Cats in Hamburg; Roberta and Have a Heart in New York (both for Musicals Tonight); regional appearances in My Fair Lady (Eliza), Carousel (Julie) and The Fantasticks (Luisa); and concert and recital work nationally and internationally.
Ms. Raab becomes only the thirteenth actress to be cast as ‘Christine’ in the Broadway production (not including alternates and understudies). She follows, in order: Sarah Brightman, Patti Cohenour, Rebecca Luker, Karen Culliver, Mary D’Arcy, Tracy Shayne, Sandra Joseph, Adrienne McEwan, Sarah Pfisterer, Lisa Vroman, Rebecca Pitcher and Jennifer Hope Wills.
On Broadway, since its debut on January 26, 1988, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA has grossed over $695 million, making it the highest-grossing show in Broadway history. The production recently played its milestone 8,500th performance and total New York attendance is over 12.5 million. PHANTOM became the longest-running show in Broadway history on January 9, 2006 (surpassing the 7,485-performance run of Cats) and has now played more than 1,000 performances and over two and a half years since breaking that record.
Its internationally success – equally staggering – is represented by a total worldwide box office gross of more than $5 billion, making 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, having played over 65,000 performances in 25 countries and 124 cities. It’s won over 50 Theater awards including 7 Tonys, and there are currently 8 productions around the world.
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, sound design by Mick Potter and original sound design by Martin Levan. Musical staging and choreography is by Gillian Lynne. Orchestrations are by David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERAcurrently stars Howard McGillin in the title role and Tim Martin Gleason as ‘Raoul.’ The musical also co-stars George Lee Andrews (‘Monsieur André’), David Cryer (‘Monsieur Firmin’), Patricia Phillips (‘Carlotta’), Rebecca Judd (‘Madame Giry’), Evan Harrington (‘Piangi’) and Polly Baird (‘Meg Giry’). At certain performances, Elizabeth Loyacano plays ‘Christine.’ Mr. Andrews has been with the production for its entire run. Mr. McGillin, with over 2,000 performances, has played the title role on Broadway more than any other performer.