Broadway's 'The Phantom of the Opera' welcomes its first black lead in Norm Lewis

The Associated Press

FILE - This May 18, 2012 file photo shows actor Norm Lewis at the 78th Annual Drama League Awards in New York. Lewis has been tapped to be Broadway’s next Phantom in the megahit "The Phantom of the Opera," a move that makes him the first African American to slip behind the famous mask. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)

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By MARK KENNEDY, AP Drama Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Norm Lewis has been tapped to be Broadway's next Phantom in the megahit "The Phantom of the Opera," a move that makes him the first African-American to slip behind the famous mask.

Producers said Thursday the Tony Award nominee, who brought his deep and rich voice as Porgy in the recent "Porgy and Bess" revival, will make his debut opposite a returning Sierra Boggess as Christine beginning May 12.

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."

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."

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.

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."

The musical has played to over 130 million people in 27 countries and has grossed over $5.6 billion worldwide — more than any film in history, including "Avatar," ''Titanic," ''Gone With the Wind" and "Star Wars."

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Online: http://www.thephantomoftheopera.com

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