It’s Phantom Week at Broadway.com! In honor of the musical’s 25th Broadway birthday on January 26, we’re unveiling exclusive interviews, fun facts and surprises about The Phantom of the Opera all week long. We asked Broadway’s five longest-running Phantoms to share their craziest onstage moments, favorite phan gifts and more insights about the mysterious masked man. Next up is Davis Gaines, one of several stars who made the leap from Christine’s paramour Raoul to the title role, which he performed on Broadway for 865 performances beginning in July 1994. Read on for the first of two tales you’ll hear this week of sudden illness leaving Christine on stage to fend her herself at a critical moment in the show.
Choose three adjectives that best describe the Phantom.
Complex, isolated, romantic.
How did you pass the time during the long makeup process of becoming the Phantom?
I was lucky to have very talented, understanding and fun makeup artists during my years as the Phantom. It really wasn't a long process, usually under a half hour. Most of the time, I would open mail, read the paper or eat.
What is your favorite moment in the show, and why?
For me, it was the final moments of the show when the Phantom gives his ring to Christine and lets her go. It's a very moving scene where the Phantom is at his most vulnerable. To hear the audience reaction at that moment was extremely gratifying as the actor.
What is the craziest thing that ever happened during a performance?
Many crazy things happened during my years as the Phantom, but probably the craziest thing happened while I was playing Raoul on Broadway. One night I developed an acute case of food poisoning, so by the time we started to sing the duet “All I Ask of You” I realized that I had to leave the stage to throw up. That’s how the infamous story started...the night I left Rebecca Luker on stage to sing the duet by herself.
True or false: Raoul is a wimp. Discuss.
False. Because I played both the Raoul and the Phantom, I have a special affinity for Raoul and his arc in the show. Most all of his entrances occur in a life-and-death situation, and he does the best he can against a formidable adversary in his effort to save Christine.
When did you last sing “Music of the Night”?
Last Saturday night in Long Beach, CA, at an event celebrating the 60th anniversary of Musical Theatre West.
What’s the best gift a Phantom phan gave you?
I received many thoughtful and wonderful gifts over the years...artwork, sculptures, quilts, pillows, Phantom bears, etc. In fact, I haven’t been able to part with most of it, so I have a garage full of memorabilia!
What’s the best thing about playing the Phantom—and why are actors willing to play such a demanding role for long periods of time?
He’s an extremely complicated character with many layers and provides an actor with an opportunity to make very interesting choices when creating the role. Playing the role for a long time gave me the responsibility to find ways to keep the performance fresh every night and, I believe, made me a better actor.
What’s the most important reason Phantom is still a hit after 25 years on Broadway?
It’s beautiful show, with a compelling story and sweeping melodies, and in every aspect the creative team continues to keep the quality of the production at the same high level it was 25 years ago.
Prediction: How long WILL Phantom run?
As long as the quality of the production remains high, there’s really no reason why it would have to close. Whether it’s someone’s first experience with live theater or a seasoned theatregoer, the show touches lives in many ways. From a child’s reaction to the crashing chandelier to his grandparents’ involvement in the emotional story line of unrequited love, the show truly has universal appeal.
Click here for more confessions from Broadway’s longest-running Phantoms!