Tony nominee Norm Lewis is set to make history when he takes on the title role in The Phantom of the Opera, becoming the first African-American actor to play the role on Broadway. Lewis will star opposite Sierra Boggess, in her return to the New York production. The two stars, who previously played underwater father and daughter in The Little Mermaid on Broadway, will both begin performances on May 12, replacing Hugh Panaro and Mary Michael Patterson, respectively.
Lewis has named The Phantom as his dream role for years. "That's one of my roles that I always wanted to play," Lewis told Broadway.com's Paul Wontorek on Show People, "and it's really now to set a precedent. It doesn't even have to be me, but there's never been an African American to play that role except Robert Guillaume, but never one on Broadway." [In 1990, Tony nominee Guillaume played the role when he succeeded original star Michael Crawford in the L.A. production.] "Out of 25 years [on Broadway], I'd love to see an African American play that."
"I am so honored and giddy with excitement to bring Christine to life again opposite my dearest Norm,” said Boggess, who was recently praised by Phantom composer Andrew Lloyd Webber as "the best Christine." Boggess added, “This is a moment in time I don't want to miss!"
When asked about playing The Phantom opposite his former onstage daughter, Lewis told Broadway.com, "I'm not going to say the word, but it would add an extra element to that role."
Lewis, who received a Tony nomination for Porgy and Bess, has also appeared on Broadway in Miss Saigon, The Who’s Tommy, Chicago, Side Show, The Wild Party, Amour, Les Miserables, Sondheim on Sondheim and The Little Mermaid. His film and TV credits include Scandal, All My Children and Les Miserables in Concert: The 25th Anniversary.
Boggess won the 2013 Broadway.com Audience Choice Award for Favorite Replacement for playing Christine on Broadway, a role she previously played in Las Vegas and in both the London and New York 25th anniversary productions of the show. She also originated the role in Phantom's London sequel Love Never Dies, for which she received an Oliver Award nomination. She made her Broadway debut as Ariel in The Little Mermaid (for which she won a Broadway.com Audience Choice Award). Her credits also included Master Class on Broadway and Les Miserables in the West End.
The Phantom of the Opera, Broadway's longest-running show, continues its record-breaking run at the Majestic Theatre. Along with Panaro and Patterson, Phantom currently stars Jeremy Hays as Raoul, Laird Mackintosh as Monsieur Andre, Tim Jerome as Monsieur Firmin, Michele McConnell as Carlotta, Ellen Harvey as Madame Giry, Christian Sebek as Piangi and Deanna Doyle as Meg Giry.