Some news from the Broadway production: James Barbour is leaving the title role, and someone new (or not-so-new) will be coming in for the 30th anniversary in New York. Laird Mackintosh will cover the role from Barbour’s final performance on Dec. 23 until the new full-time Phantom comes in. And there are a few other cast changes, as well; more info here.
Just watched a full video
from the Swedish revival of POTO. I think...I need help. (No actually, don't help me. I've "passed the point of no return".
It feels so unreal how my tastes have changed from two or three years ago. For me Phantom has always been "just that musical that everyone has done at one point". Whenever I feel like watching something else of people I like in other shows I'll search for Phantom recordings, as there's usually a lot of them, but I'm never really interested in the show itself. I find the plot rather lame and sappy. The characters and their interactions just couldn't impress me the way Les Mis does. Now I still find it hard to appreciate Erik and Raoul tbh but I've become a huge fan of Christine. She's actually a very interesting character. There's so much more about her, which I didn't realize until recently, than the cliche love triangle. I feel like my interest in this show is finally revived as I now have something exciting to look for.
So...can any Phans recommend some good POTO stuff for a new Phan in the making? Who are the fan-favorite Christines, Phantoms and Raouls? Any people I should, um, avoid?
Btw, I discovered a photo of Annalene Beechey as Christine the other day. She's my favorite Cosette. I'd give literally anything to see her as Christine really.
Oh yes, Christine is a fascinating character, and it’s fun to see what different actresses bring to the role. A bit like Cosette in LM, the character is often unappreciated... but having a cast where the Phantom, Christine, and
Raoul are performed well can really do a lot for the show.
For fan-favorites... there are a lot I can name. The original London and Broadway cast that starred Michael Crawford (Phantom), Sarah Brightman (Christine), and Steve Barton (Raoul) is still well-loved, and Steve went on to play quite a good Phantom as well (though sadly, only audio boots of him are out there; no video). I agree with Morbidmuch that Rebecca Caine is well worth checking out, as is the 25th anniversary concert cast (though I confess to not being a huge fan of Hadley Fraser as Raoul there). For other super-popular ones, with a few years of distance generally to see if lots of Phans still talk about them well after they’ve left a production, or if they’ve done multiple or very extended runs (and sticking to English-language casts for now, though some have performed the show in other languages too)...
Phantoms: Colm Wilkinson (yup, he’s done it too), Dave Willetts, Robert Guillaume, Anthony Warlow, Rob Guest, Peter Karrie (who has played the role the most times worldwide), Kevin Gray, Ethan Freeman, Davis Gaines, Franc d’Ambrosio, Brad Little, Ian Jon Bourg (who probably holds the record for most productions an actor has performed in for this show, having performed in multiple venues in the US, Germany, and the World Tour), Scott Davies (alternate in London since 1999 and is still there), Gary Mauer, James Romick, Howard McGillin (longest-running on Broadway), Hugh Panaro, John Owen-Jones, Earl Carpenter, Gerónimo Rauch, Peter Jöback, and Norm Lewis. (Paul Stanley, the lead singer from KISS who got to play the Phantom for a while, is remembered... but not necessarily fondly.)
Christines: Claire Moore, Rebecca Luker, Dale Kristien, Jill Washington, Lisa Vroman (Jill and Lisa might be the longest-running Christines worldwide), Deborah Dutcher, Amy Nuttall (youngest Christine at the time; in addition to other musicals, was also in Downton Abbey),
Sandra Joseph (longest-running on Broadway), Kimilee Bryant (went on to play Carlotta), Elizabeth DeGrazia, Ana Marina, Elizabeth Southard, Marni Raab, Rachel Barrell, Jennifer Hope Wills, Celia Graham (also starred in the West End cast of LND), Gina Beck, Sara Jean Ford, Katie Hall, Trista Moldovan (went on to play Carlotta), Olivia Brereton, Anna O'Byrne (also starred in the Australian cast of LND), and Samantha Hill.
Raouls - with a (p) for those who’ve also played the Phantom: Michael Ball, Reece Holland, Davis Gaines (p), Byron Nease, Hugh Panaro (p), John Barrowman (yes, he’s done it!), Mike Sterling (p), Simon Bowman (p), Brad Little (p), Gary Mauer (p), Gardar Thor Cortez (also played Passarino in the 25th anniversary concert and the Phantom in LND for the German and US Tour productions, and almost got to star in POTO in Paris), Matthew Cammelle (p), John Cudia (p), Michael Shawn Lewis, Tim Martin Gleason (p), Ramin Karimloo (p), David Shannon (p), Greg Mills (p), Simon Bailey, Alexander Lewis (p), Kyle Barisich, Killian Donnelly, and Jeremy Hays.
This isn’t all of them, of course; but if you have any questions about any performers (whether I’ve mentioned them here or not), feel free to ask! Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any video or audio boots of Annalene Beechey as Christine that have turned up online.