Broadway's Phantom Gets a New Rooftop Crooner April 3

News   Broadway's Phantom Gets a New Rooftop Crooner April 3 Broadway's The Phantom of the Opera welcomes a new Raoul April 3 when Michael Shawn Lewis returns to the Harold Prince production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber smash.
Michael Shawn Lewis in The Phantom of the Opera.
Michael Shawn Lewis in The Phantom of the Opera. Photo by Joan Marcus

The musical is in its 19th year in New York, playing at The Majestic Theatre.

Lewis performed the role with five different companies: on Broadway (where he made his Broadway debut in 2001, becoming the 10th actor to be cast in the role), with the U.S. national tour, in Belgium and with two productions in Germany. Raoul, as fans know, is the above-ground romantic interest of ingénue Christine, the suggestible soprano who is seduced by the subterranean title character. (Raoul gets the choice love song, "All I Ask of You" — a starlit duet, with scudding clouds above, on the roof of the Paris Opera House.)

Lewis most recently appeared on Broadway as an original cast member of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Woman in White (in the ensemble and covering the lead role of Walter Hartwright). Internationally, he appeared as Marius in Les Misérables and as Franz Joseph in Elisabeth.

Tim Martin Gleason exits the Broadway production (April 1) to originate the role of Raoul in the upcoming Las Vegas production.

Roland Rusinek is the new Piangi — the vainglorious opera tenor — in the Broadway staging. Rusinek will be making his Broadway debut, but he has a history with the part, having played Piangi for a year in the Toronto production in the mid-1990s. His other credits include the national tour of Kiss Me, Kate; Kismet at Encores!; Fezziwig in A Christmas Carol at Madison Square Garden; Beauty and the Beast in Montreal; and three productions at New York City Opera: Sweeney Todd (Beadle), The Most Happy Fella (Giuseppe) and Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella (Royal Chef). He replaces Larry Wayne Morbitt, who has the distinction of having played the role of Piangi on Broadway more than any other actor, at over 2,300 performances. Morbitt played his final performance March 29 and will originate the role of Piangi in the Vegas production.

Continuing in their roles are Howard McGillin (The Phantom), Sandra Joseph (Christine), George Lee Andrews (Monsieur Firmin), David Cryer (Monsieur André), Anne Runolfsson (Carlotta), Marilyn Caskey (Madame Giry), Heather McFadden (Meg Giry) and Rebecca Pitcher (Christine at certain performances).

The Phantom of the Opera became the longest-running show in Broadway history on Jan. 9, 2006, when it played performance No. 7486, surpassing the record run of Cats (also created by Phantom composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, producer Cameron Mackintosh and choreographer Gillian Lynne).

It has since become the first production in Broadway history to surpass 7,500 performances (which it did on Jan. 21) and reach 18 years (which it did on Jan. 26).

For information, visit www.thephantomoftheopera.com.

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