FORMER NATIONAL TOUR ‘RAOUL’ KYLE BARISICH TO TAKE OVER THE ROLE BEGINNING MONDAY, JUNE 6
CURRENT NEW YORK CAST MEMBER MICHELE MCCONNELL TO ASSUME THE ROLE OF ‘CARLOTTA’ AS OF MONDAY, JULY 11
FORMER NATIONAL TOUR ‘MEG’ JESSICA BISHOP TO STEP INTO THE ROLE BEGINNING MONDAY, JULY 4
Principal cast changes have 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 phenomenon is in its unprecedented 24th year in New York, playing at The Majestic Theatre (247 West 44th Street).
A former principal cast member with the PHANTOM National Tour, Kyle Barisich will take over the romantic leading role of Raoul, beginning performances Monday evening, June 4. A current member of the Broadway cast and former member of the National Tour, he previously played the role of Raoul in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He first joined the tour for a year starting in October 2006 as a member of the Ensemble and covering Raoul. After several additional engagements in the touring Ensemble, he assumed the role of Raoul in November 2008, playing it for engagements in San Francisco and Los Angeles through February 2009. Since March 2008 and to date, he’s also played several engagements with the New York Company in the Ensemble and covering Raoul. He succeeds current star Sean MacLaughlin, who’s played the role of Raoul over 800 times in New York and on the road combined.
Current Broadway cast member Michele McConnell will assume the role of Carlotta starting Monday evening, July 11. Ms. McConnell first joined the Ensemble of the Broadway cast in February 2010 and has covered the role of the tempestuous opera diva since May 2010. She takes over the role from Liz McCartney, who will play her final performance on Saturday evening, July 9. In her two engagements with the Broadway cast, Ms. McCartney has played the role over 700 times.
Former PHANTOM National Tour principal cast member Jessica Bishop (formerly Jessi Ehrlich) will step into the role of inquisitive ballerina Meg Giry, beginning performances Monday evening, July 4. Ms. Bishop previously played the role on the National Tour from April 2008 to February 2010. She’ll be playing the role during a leave of absence for current cast member Heather McFadden, who will play her final performance on Saturday evening, July 2. She is scheduled to return to the production in January 2012.
Mr. Barisich is the fifteenth actor to be cast as Raoul (not including understudies). He follows, in order and excluding return engagements: Steve Barton, Kevin Gray, Davis Gaines, Hugh Panaro, Keith Buterbaugh, Ciaran Sheehan, Brad Little, Gary Mauer, Jim Weitzer, Michael Shawn Lewis, John Cudia, Tim Martin Gleason, Ryan Silverman and Sean MacLaughlin.
Ms. McConnell is the fourteenth actress to have been cast as Carlotta in New York (not including understudies). She follows, in order and excluding return engagements: Judy Kaye, Marilyn Caskey, Elena Jeanne Batman, Geena Jeffries, Patricia Hurd, Kelly Ellenwood, Leigh Munro, Liz McCartney, Rebecca Eichenberger, Patricia Phillips, Julie Schmidt, Anne Runolfsson and Kim Stengel.
Ms. Bishop is the ninth actress to have been cast as Meg in New York (not including understudies). She follows, in order and excluding return engagements: Elisa Heinsohn, Catherine Ulissey, Tener Brown, Geralyn Del Corso, Joelle Gates, Heather McFadden, Kara Klein and Polly Baird.
Continuing in their roles with the New York Company are Hugh Panaro (The Phantom), Sara Jean Ford (Christine), George Lee Andrews (Monsieur André), David Cryer (Monsieur Firmin), Marilyn Caskey (Madame Giry) and Evan Harrington (Piangi). At certain performances, Marni Raab plays Christine.
Kyle Barisich was a member of the National Tour of The Phantom of the Opera, and played Raoul in Los Angeles and San Francisco engagements. Regional credits include South Pacific at the Hollywood Bowl, Cinderella’s Prince in Into the Woods and Barrett in Titanic. Kyle co-created the lounge act parody A Touch of Vegas and he often performs the audience warm-up for “LIVE! with Regis & Kelly.” He is also a published food writer, and frequently appears as a pop culture commentator for FOX News.
Michele McConnell made her Broadway debut in the Ensemble of The Phantom of the Opera. Her credits include the national tour of Camelot starring Robert Goulet; Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance and Josephine in HMS Pinafore (both at City Center); Beauty and the Beast in both Montreal and Las Vegas; as well as appearances with DiCapo Opera, Mobile Opera, Missouri Symphony and Skyline Theatre Company.
Jessica Bishop played Meg on the National Tour of The Phantom of the Opera. She made her Broadway debut in the recent revival of West Side Story and also appeared Off-Broadway in Freckleface Strawberry. Regional: Hartford Stage’s Our Town with Hal Holbrook. She studied with San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, and Dance credits include the world premieres of Ginza Court and Kitty with Adam Miller Dance Company.
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is the longest-running show in Broadway history. Since surpassing the then-record run of Cats in January 2006, the production has played an additional 5 years and over 2,200 performances – which by itself would be a healthy run for a Broadway musical. Its longevity is unprecedented and PHANTOM remains miles ahead of all competition. The long-closed Cats remains a distant second, having run just shy of 18 years. The closest currently-running show is the revival of Chicago, which reached 14 years in November 2010.
On Broadway, since its debut on January 26, 1988, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA has grossed over $812 million, making it the highest-grossing show in Broadway history. Total attendance is over 14.3 million and it is the winner of 7 Tony Awards including Best Musical. The production reached milestone performance #9,500 in November 2010 and celebrated its 23rd Anniversary in January 2011. Now in its phenomenal 24th Year, the Broadway production remains a box office camp and continues to play 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 Avatar (at $2.7 billion). Worldwide, over 65,000 performances have been seen by 100 million people in 27 countries and 144 cities.
There are currently six productions around the world: London, New York, Budapest (Hungary), Nagoya (Japan), Seoul (Korea) and a revised production in Las Vegas at The Venetian. The original cast-recording, with over 40 million copies sold worldwide, is the best-selling cast recording of all time. The London production reached 10,000 performances in October 2010 and will celebrate its 25th Anniversary this coming October. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical Love Never Dies, which continues the PHANTOM story, opened in London on March 9, 2010.
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All cast images credit: Joan Marcus.