NEW YORK — It seems that with each performance, The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway breaks another theater record. Celebrating more than 24 years on the Rialto, the mega-musical has become a fixture of the midtown theater scene with no sign of slowing down.
Recently, Trista Moldovan took over the role of Christine, the woman at the center of the show who’s enamored both romantically and artistically with the title character. The actress is making her Broadway debut in the role, although she’s no rookie when it comes to Phantom. Moldovan joined the national tour of the show in 2008 as a member of the ensemble and quickly rose through the ranks to assume the top role.
Now, audiences on a nightly basis have a chance to catch her dream come true. As The Phantom of the Opera prepares for its 10,000th performance on Broadway, Hollywood Soapbox talks exclusively to Moldovan about her experiences at the Majestic Theatre.
How is it to be on a Broadway stage performing this iconic role?
It’s unbelievable. It’s something that I dreamed about since I was a little girl.
This is your Broadway debut. How was your first performance at the Majestic Theatre?
My brother and my dad and a few friends were out in the audience. For the rest of the cast it was a night just like any other night, but for me, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’ll never forget. The cast was just so supportive, and the excitement that they gave me was incredibly generous.
You had played the role in the national tour. Is there a big difference between the tour and Broadway?
No, as far as the actual show goes, there’s just very tiny, subtle differences. As far as the lifestyle goes, it’s just so nice to come home and sleep in my own bed every night. On tour we would move around once every month.
The downside of it is that when you’re on tour, you just go back to your hotel room and relax. Here in New York, although it’s the best thing in the world to sleep in your bed, you have your life to live. You have doctors’ appointments and you hang out with your friends, and that can be a little more tiring. So I have to watch that and take care of myself.
Is the role of Christine difficult to play?
Yes. When I first started on Broadway, I had about a year and a half that I hadn’t performed the role since the tour closed, and I was just covered in sweat the first few performances that I did it on Broadway. I was building up my stamina again. Your voice is like a muscle, you work it out and then it works back into your body.
When you came to Broadway, did you go through a rehearsal process?
When I got the phone call asking me if I wanted to join the Broadway company, I was like, ‘Oh this is great. I’m sure they’ll give me a couple of weeks of rehearsal.’ Then I got the schedule, and they gave me a music rehearsal, three rehearsals and then my dress rehearsal. It was under a week of rehearsal. It was a fast process, but I wouldn’t want it any other way, looking back at it.
You must really need to work hard with the actor playing the Phantom.
The only two actors I have contact with the entire show are Raoul and Phantom. We’re sort of in our own little bubble, just because of the nature of the show. There’s definitely a bond that forms among the three of us. It’s great to become so close to those two actors, because you learn to trust each other.
Is it difficult to get into character? Or do the sets and costumes transport you back in time?
Stylistically it’s unlike any other musical. The music is what gets me into character the most.
Before joining the touring company, were you a big fan already?
I have been a fan of the show since I was 12 years old when my family went to see the national tour in Cleveland, which is where I’m from. So the show has been part of my life ever since then.
Do you have a highlight in the show?
The part of the show that I love performing the most is actually — I don’t do a lot in the scene — “Masquerade” at the top of Act II. I think it’s because it’s the only time really when the entire cast is singing on stage, and I just love being part of the company and feeling like I’m part of this amazing show that’s been running for 24 years.
Do you have a connection with the original creators?
We have a production supervisor, and he’s responsible for staging and maintaining the show. But just yesterday I got to talk with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Hal Prince.
How long will you be with the show?
They kind of go 6 months at a time, and then the creative team convenes and decides whether they want you to stay with the show. And I can also decide if I want to leave the show after 6 months. But I’m definitely not bored right now. The novelty still has not worn off.
By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com
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