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Norm Lewis Will Be First Black Phantom in Broadway's 'The Phantom of the Opera'

by Vanessa Martinez
March 21, 2014 3:57 PM
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Norm Lewis

Tony-nominated actor Norm Lewis (2012's The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess) will become the first black actor to grace the stage on May 12 in New York as Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Broadway musical The Phantom of the Opera.

Mr. Lewis said that the Phantom character has been a long time "dream role," adding, "First, I love the show. Second, to set a precedent."

Lewis is joined onstage by Sierra Bogges, who has performed the role of Christine Daae in the Las Vegas "Phantom" production, and in London and New York for the show's 25th anniversary.

The show's producer Cameron Mackintosh said in an official statement that since having worked with Norm Lewis since the 90's, he "couldn't be more thrilled that he is now joining 'Phantom,' matched with Sierra—one of the finest Christines ever."

The Phantom of the Opera, currently Broadway's longest-running show, is directed by Harold Prince and has been an international hit - grossing more than $948 million according to the Broadway League - since it opened in London in 1986 followed by New York 2 years after. 

In preparation for the role, Lewis is said to be anticipating "monk-ish living" and hopes to "do it justice." As far as singing is concerned, the actor has experience both on and off-stage, saying he's "warmed up with those [Phantom] songs."

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  • Joeyd | May 14, 2014 3:08 PMReply

    Black is NOT the Phantom of the Opera. Where are the caucasians playing SIMBA, or starring in Porgy And Bess and Raisin in the Sun. If we put a white person in those productions all hell would break loose. In the time of The Phantom of the Opera, BLACKS would not be integrating with the likes of Christine Daae. Keep it real Lloyd Weber.

  • Webber | March 31, 2014 12:27 AMReply

    INCORRECT - Robert Guillaume, who most people know from the TV show "Benson", played the Phantom in 1989-1990. He followed Michael Crawford and preceded Davis Gaines, who, in my opinion, was the greatest Phantom of all time.

  • Winston | March 24, 2014 8:24 AMReply

    The problem with the phrase "first black actor to grace the stage on May 12 in New York as Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Broadway musical The Phantom of the Opera," and the jubilation expected to come with it, is that it implies Norm Lewis is the first to have proven himself worthy of such an "honor". He didn't have to be the first, except that somebody decided to finally, after 25 years, "give" him that opportunity. Anytime I hear "first black" anything, it makes me cringe. We should be saying it's the first time a black person was allowed to do whatever it is they're being celebrated for doing. And that, my friends, is a shame.

  • Heather | March 24, 2014 2:03 PM

    Great comment, Winston.

  • KAMMs | March 24, 2014 12:17 PM

    AGREE! Good point! I'm now going to be mindful of my own wording when discussing matters like these!

  • Bondgirl | March 24, 2014 11:29 AM

    Agree with everything stated.

  • Geneva Girl | March 23, 2014 2:11 PMReply

    Good for him! I was so disappointed that he wasn't around for more episodes of Scandal. Fortunately, he's moved onto bigger and better.

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