It has been customary in Phantom productions around the world for two actresses to play the role: the main Christine usually performs six times a week, while an alternate Christine plays the vocally demanding role twice a week. Now, however, Robyn North and Leila Benn Harris are both performing four performances each in the hit musical. This new arrangement began May 14.
The London production, which will celebrate its 21st birthday in October, also features Earl Carpenter as The Phantom, Michael Xavier as Raoul, Wendy Ferguson as Carlotta, Rohan Tickell as Piangi, James Barron as Monsieur Firmin, Sam Hiller as Monsieur André, Heather Jackson as Madame Giry and Lyndsey Wise as Meg Giry.
Both Robyn North and Leila Benn Harris were recently seen in the ensemble of the London revival of Evita. North has previously been the alternate Christine in Phantom and also starred in the national tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie. Harris has been seen in the West End and touring productions of Carmen and Fame the Musical.
The Phantom of the Opera, based on the Gaston Leroux novel, 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. Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman created the roles of, respectively, the Phantom and Christine, in London and later in New York.
In New York Phantom plays the Majestic Theatre. The winner of seven 1988 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, The Phantom of the Opera became the longest-running show in Broadway history on Jan. 9, 2006. It surpassed Cats' record-holding run of 7,485 performances. The musical at the Majestic Theatre celebrated its 19th birthday on Broadway Jan. 26. For more information visit www.reallyuseful.com.