By Kenneth Jones
08 Dec 2006
|Photo by Joan Marcus|
Produced by Cameron Mackintosh/Really Useful Group, Inc. and directed by Harold Prince, the musical is in its 19th year in New York, playing at The Majestic Theatre.
Current Phantom cast member Jennifer Hope Wills will take over the leading role of Christine, the suggestible soprano who trusts voices in the walls, starting Dec. 12. Wills made her Phantom debut earlier this year as the Christine Alternate (playing the role twice a week) on April 20, 2006.
She's played the role since then, excluding a nine-week engagement as Christine on the national tour this past summer.
Wills earned solid reviews playing Eileen opposite Brooke Shields in the Broadway revival of Wonderful Town and can be heard on the new Broadway cast recording with Shields. She appeared in the original Broadway cast of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Woman in White (covering the role of Laura) and was also featured in Broadway's Beauty and the Beast (covering the role of Belle) and the Encores! production of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
Phantom alumna Julie Hanson will return to the production as the Christine Alternate with her first performance Dec. 11. Hanson previously was the Christine Alternate from Sept, 22, 2003 through July 9, 2005, and returned this summer from June 26-Aug. 24. She also previously played the role of Christine on the national tour. She recently returned to New York after playing Esther Smith in Stages St. Louis' production of Meet Me in St. Louis.
Hanson succeeds Wills as the Alternate.
The ladies join Broadway favorite Anne Runolfsson, who recently returned to the production (on Nov. 17) as opera diva Carlotta. Runolfsson originally played the role from Nov. 16, 2004 through May 13, 2006, including the record-breaking performance in January. Her extensive list of Broadway credits includes Victor/Victoria (title role, also national tour), Cyrano-The Musical (Roxanne, 1993 Drama-League honoree), James Joyce's The Dead (Greta), Les Misérables (Fantine, also national tour) and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Aspects of Love (original cast).
Runolfsson's daughter, Tess Adams, is currently a cast member of the new Broadway revival of Les Misérables, where she rotates in the roles of Young Cosette and Young Eponine with two other child performers.
Continuing in their Phantom roles are Howard McGillin (The Phantom), George Lee Andrews (Monsieur Firmin), David Cryer (Monsieur André), Marilyn Caskey (Madame Giry), Roland Rusinek (Piangi), Heather McFadden (Meg Giry) and Michael Shawn Lewis (Raoul).
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, 2006) and reach 18 years (which it did on Jan. 26, 2006).
For more information, visit www.thephantomoftheopera.com.