I had been going to almost every Equity Chorus Call and Principal Appointment available for The Phantom of the Opera since moving to New York four years ago; sixteen rounds of sixteen bars. I prayed I was making an impression and was hopefully on a list to be called in down the line.
Then, in March 2018, it happened. Tara Rubin was seeing people to replace a long-time ensemble tenor in the Broadway company of The Phantom of the Opera, a track which included a Piangi cover, and she wanted to see me. I was so grateful for the opportunity to be considered for this track. And although I looked a bit young for the role, the chance to be seen by the team was a huge win.
Little did I know that three months later I would get the call to open up the new Hal Prince-directed World Tour in that very track. My dream really came true. Getting that call from my agent is a moment I’ll never forget. That and calling my mom and screaming on the phone.
I went college for a year before moving to New York. I ultimately decided to forgo continuing on for an opportunity and entered this career at 19. The only thing you can do is continue to bring in a positive, professional attitude and to show up on time. I’m a firm believer that on time is late. I pride myself on my work ethic, being a team player, being genuinely nice to people and being prepared for a day’s work.
When I booked The Phantom of the Opera, I was prepping to open the Chicago production of Terrence McNally’s Master Class opposite Janet Ulrich Brooks. It would mark my first straight play, and it was thrilling to portray Tony Candolino, a Juilliard opera student who sings an aria from Tosca during the show. It helped me strengthen my acting and operatic chops, ultimately gearing me up for my understudy role in Phantom, the star of the Paris Opera House, Ubaldo Piangi.
I am honored to be a member of the Phantom ensemble eight times a week. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be in this company, and the cover position allows me the opportunity to continue to grow into the role and the show. It’s really exciting.
One of the unique things about the World Tour is getting to see Broadway’s still longest-running show being built from the ground up in each new city. Our company is filled with veterans of the franchise: stage manager Sandie Bekavac, Maestro David Andrews Rogers, William Waldrop, Masha Barskaya, Jonathan Roxmouth, Ian Jon Bourg, Michael Gillis, Jen West, and Robyn Brotha. It’s such an opportunity for me, at the beginning of my journey with the show, to work with these people every day. I’m always seeking them out for advice or just to chat. I adore this company.
Our principal Piangi, Thabiso Masemene, and our other cover, Luke Grooms, both have a long history with the role. They’re amazing men and colleagues. I’m obsessed with their voices. It’s such a gift working alongside them. If I ever have any questions, I know I have people to turn to.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s longtime collaborator Kristen Blodgette and Hal Prince’s right hand, Daniel Kutner, informed me I was the youngest Piangi Phantom has had in its more than thirty year history. It didn’t dawn on me that my casting would be a departure from their usual choices, I am just happy for the work. I get to make a living doing what I love.
“Making history” is not something I think about. My only obligation every night, whether I’m covering Piangi or in my ensemble track, is to serve and honor the Andrew Lloyd Webber score, the original Hal Prince direction, and the late Gillian Lynne’s choreography.