Hugh Panaro will return to the title role of The Phantom of the Opera opposite Phantom tour vet Sara Jean Ford as Christine in the Broadway production, beginning September 7. They replace John Cudia and Jennifer Hope Wills, who will give their final performances on September 4. Broadway’s longest-running show continues its record-breaking run at the Majestic Theatre.
Panaro is one of the few actors to have been cast as both the Phantom and Raoul in the Broadway production. He joined the New York cast in December 1990 as Raoul, a role he played for more than 900 performances. He assumed the title role in February 1999 and played more than 1,000 performances as the Man Behind the Mask. Panaro’s other Broadway credits include the title role in Lestat, Buddy in Side Show, Gaylord Ravenal in Show Boat (directed by Phantom’s Harold Prince), Julius in The Red Shoes and Marius in Les Miserables. He also played the title role in the American premiere of Martin Guerre.
Ford made her Broadway debut in Phantom in March 2007 as the Mirror Bride and Christine cover, then played Christine on the show’s national tour for almost a year beginning in September 2007. Ford’s other Broadway credits include the current Broadway revival of A Little Night Music as Mrs. Anderson (Anne/Petra cover) and Finian’s Rainbow as Arlene (Sharon cover). Off-Broadway, she starred as Louisa The Fantasticks. Ford originated the role of Nellie Oleson in the national tour of Little House on the Prairie: The Musical.
Continuing in the New York company are Ryan Silverman (Raoul), George Lee Andrews (Monsieur André), David Cryer (Monsieur Firmin), Patricia Phillips (Carlotta), Cristin J. Hubbard (Madame Giry), Evan Harrington (Piangi) and Heather McFadden (Meg Giry). At certain performances, Marni Raab plays Christine.
Phantom history buffs can note that Panaro was the tenth of the 12 men cast in the show’s title role and Ford is the fourteenth actress to be cast as Christine in the New York production.