Two new faces are about to step into the lair. Broadway alum Ali Ewoldt and newcomer Jordan Donica will join the cast of The Phantom of the Opera. Beginning June 13, they will assume the roles of Christine and Raoul, respectively, taking over from Julia Udine and Jeremy Hays at the Great White Way's Majestic Theatre.
Ewoldt, who is half-Filipino, will be the first person of color to play Christine on the Main Stem. "It's wild," she told Broadway.com, "that people are now willing to talk about things they weren't ten years ago, in terms of having real representation of the world we live in on stage." As Asian-American actors are combating erasure and whitewashing, Ewoldt wants to ensure those conversations continue. "Hopefully someday, everything will be open and people will have truly equal opportunities, and we can say it doesn't matter anymore. For the moment, the key is to show young people that it's possible to be a storyteller. I want to be able to represent all the other people of color who aspire to play Christine someday."
The part of Christine is a natural fit for the soprano: "It's always been on that list of roles I wanted to play." She's had this particular bullet point on the list since as early as age 10, when she sang "Think of Me" for a cruise ship audience. Now that she has the part, Ewoldt is preparing by "nerding out and watching a lot of YouTube videos," particularly Sierra Boggess' Broadway.com vlog Daaé Days. She's most looking forward to a moment former Christine Sara Jean Ford explains in one episode: "I remember her saying that when you're in the boat just before you're in front of the audience, there's a mirror, and you catch yourself at just the right moment and see the whole thing."
Ewoldt recently played Tuptim in the Chicago Lyric Opera production of The King and I, having previously understudied the role in the current Broadway revival. Her additional credits include Les Miserables and The Fantasticks. Donica has appeared on stage regionally in Jesus Christ Superstar, Dames at Sea and South Pacific. The Phantom of the Opera will mark his Broadway debut. When the two join the cast, current ensemble member Rachel Eskenazi-Gold will become the production’s alternate Christine, taking over for Rachel Zatcoff and playing the role twice a week.
The cast at the Majestic Theatre currently includes James Barbour as The Phantom, Laird Mackintosh as Monsieur André, Craig Bennett as Monsieur Firmin, Michele McConnell as Carlotta, Rebecca Eichenberger as Madame Giry, John Easterlin as Piangi and Kara Klein as Meg Giry.