Producers Cameron Mackintosh and The Really Useful Group today announced principal cast changes for the Broadway production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, directed by Harold Prince. The longest-running show in Broadway history and one of the most successful stage productions of all-time, PHANTOM this year surpassed 11,000 performances in New York – an unprecedented feat achieved by no other Broadway show. The Broadway production has played to more than 16 million people at The Majestic Theatre (247 West 44th Street), the musical’s home for more than 26 record-breaking years.
The casting features two stars from the spectacular new production of PHANTOM now on North American Tour. Julia Udine, who plays Christine Daaé, and Linda Balgord, who plays Madame Giry, will join the Broadway Company beginning the week of December 15. After the tour celebrates its first year on the road this coming November, this will represent the first time cast members from the tour – which features new staging and design elements – will join the New York production. Ms. Udine and Ms. Balgord will become the first principals to have performed in both versions of the musical in the U.S.
As previously announced, Julia Udine, the acclaimed original and current star of the North American Tour, will join the Broadway Company as the Principal Christine. Chris Jones of The Chicago Tribune called Ms. Udine, “Earnest and appealing, a young, beautiful, thrilling singer.” Don Aucoin in The Boston Globe wrote, “She brings a radiant energy to the role of the gifted soprano Christine.”
Broadway favorite Linda Balgord will return to Broadway as PHANTOM’s mysterious ballet mistress Madame Giry, joining direct from the North American Tour. Ms. Balgord has a rich history performing the works of Andrew Lloyd Webber. She starred as Norma Desmond in the first national tour of Sunset Boulevard (Jeff Award nomination), as Rose Vibert in the U.S. and Canadian tour of Aspects of Love (Helen Hayes Award nomination) and was chosen by the creative team to be the final Grizabella in Cats on Broadway. Her other Broadway credits include Queen Elizabeth I in The Pirate Queen (Drama Desk nomination), Mamma Rose in Gypsy (standby for Patti LuPone), Marie Dindon in the 2005 revival of La Cage aux Folles and the original company of Passion. She was most recently seen in New York in Death Takes a Holiday and Myths and Hymns.
Ms. Udine succeeds Mary Michael Patterson as the Principal Christine. (Kaley Ann Voorhees continues as the Christine Alternate.) Ms. Balgord succeeds Ellen Harvey as Madame Giry. Both ‘Phan’ favorites, Ms. Patterson and Ms. Harvey will give their final performances on Saturday, December 13.
In addition, current star Tony Award nominee Norm Lewis has again extended his stay as the musical’s title character. Originally extended through Saturday evening, January 31, 2015 (including the musical’s 27th Anniversary on Monday, January 26), he’ll now play one extra week through February 7, 2015. Mr. Lewis is the 14th actor and first African-American to star in the title role in the Broadway production. (In 1990, Tony Award nominee Robert Guillaume played the role when he succeeded original star Michael Crawford in the Los Angeles production.)
Mr. Lewis has earned rave reviews for his performance, most recently by Charles Isherwood in The New York Times, who said, “Mr. Lewis makes a fine meal of the role. His Phantom is imposing in his willfulness, as his lustrous voice comes booming down from the heavens, and touching in his energetic but unrequited love for Christine. The moment of anguish when she instinctively recoils in disgust as his disfiguration struck a note of sharp pathos. In his big solo ‘The Music of the Night,’ Mr. Lewis’s supple phrasing and power combined to gorgeous effect.”
Please note that due to previously-scheduled professional obligations, Mr. Lewis will not appear in the musical on Saturday, November 15; Thursday, December 11 through Saturday, December 13; Thursday, December 30 matinee; and Tuesday, January 27 through Thursday, January 29. Schedule subject to change. Broadway’s next Phantom will be announced in the coming months.
Continuing in their roles are current co-stars Jeremy Hays (Raoul), Laird Mackintosh (Monsieur André), Tim Jerome (Monsieur Firmin), Michele McConnell (Carlotta), Christian Šebek (Piangi) and Kara Klein (Meg Giry).