Broadway's long-running Phantom in Phantom of the Opera told Playbill On-Line members that he will leave the show Oct. 5 and hopes to begin rehearsals Oct. 21 for Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest musical, Whistle Down the Wind.
Gaines' comments came during an hourlong chat with more than 200 PBOL members on the America Online service.
Gaines said he will have played the Phantom 1937 times. He discussed his feelings about Phantom at length, but was circumspect about the new show, saying he hadn't yet signed his contract or heard the entire score. He did say all major roles have been cast, but did not share the names of the other actors.
A transcript of the complete chat will be posted on the Playbill On-Line Celebrity section by Sept. 10.
Gaines also gave two autographed copies of his upcoming solo CD, "Against the Tide," (LAP Records) to two PBOL members, MegGiry3 and js4synarc. Gaines joined the Broadway company of Phantom on July 4, 1994. Prior to that he played the Phantom role over two years in L.A. and opened the San Francisco production where he earned the Bay Area Critics Award for Best Actor. He is said to have performed the role more times than any other actor.
"Whistle Down the Wind" is scheduled to come to Broadway in April of '97 after a test run in Washington, D.C. in December. Gaines will play a convict whom a group of misguided kids mistake for Jesus Christ.
-- By Robert Viagas