Norm Lewis: The Man Behind The Mask
First Black lead in Phantom of the Opera
Miami Times staff report | 4/3/2014, 9 a.m.
Tony Award nominee Norm Lewis will become the first African-American to play the lead role in the broadway musical, "The Phantom of the Opera".
Producers said Lewis, who played Porgy to the recent "Porgy and Bess" revival, will bring his deep and rich voice to "Phantom" debut opposite a returning Sierra Boggess as Christine beginning May 12.
"I'm overwhelmed. The idea of doing something that I've always wanted to do and it coming to fruition is amazing," Lewis said.
Lewis, who has appeared as a senator in ABC's "Scandal" with Kerry Washington, called the Phantom a dream job for two reasons: "I love the show but also to have hopefully set a precedent to see more diversity in casting," he said.
Lewis played John in "Miss Saigon" on Broadway, Javert on Broadway in "Les Miserables" in 2006 and was in the shows "Side Show," ''The Little Mermaid," ''Chicago" and "Sondheim on Sondheim."
Lewis will be the first Black Phantom on Broadway, though Robert Guillaume played the role in the Los Angeles production in 1990.
Boggess is an old hand with "Phantom" — she played Christine in both the musical's London 25th anniversary production at Royal Albert Hall and Broadway 25th Anniversary cast last year. Her other starring Broadway credits include Terrence McNally's "Master Class" and originating the title role in Disney's "The Little Mermaid."
Based on a novel by Gaston Leroux, "Phantom" tells the story of a deformed composer who haunts the Paris Opera House and falls madly in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine.
Andrew Lloyd Webber's lavish songs include "Masquerade," ''Angel of Music," ''All I Ask of You," ''The Phantom of the Opera" and "The Music of the Night."
Lewis will join a list of Phantoms since the show opened in 1988 that includes Michael Crawford, Steve Barton, John Cudia, Kevin Gray, Mark Jacoby, Marcus Lovett, Brad Little, Howard McGillin and Hugh Panaro.
Lewis said he's seen "Phantom" several times over the years and cites McGillin and Panaro as quintessential Phantoms — "even behind the masks, they were so debonair and sexy and handsome," Lewis said.