The longest running Broadway show in history is back in Manila for another Phantom world tour this February at the Theatre at Solaire.
Photos courtesy of Concertus Manila
Angel of Music, Hide No Longer
Fiel Estrella (The Philippine Star) - January 5, 2019 - 12:00am

South African actor Jonathan Roxmouth returns to captivate Manila once again with the beauty and  madness of  ‘The Phantom of  the Opera.’

MANILA, Philippines — Jonathan Roxmouth was only 25 when he took on the title role in The Phantom of the Opera in 2012 for a world tour that counted Manila as one of its stops — the youngest actor in history to do so.

The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, based on the classic novel by Gaston Leroux, made its West End debut in 1986 before opening on Broadway two years later and going on to win Oliviers and Tonys. It’s now the longest running Broadway show in history, celebrating its 30th year in 2018. Audiences continue to be enraptured by stunning effects, elaborate costumes and beautiful songs, all coming together to recount the tale of the Phantom, who haunts the Paris Opera House and falls in love with a young soprano named Christine. Overcome by passion and obsession, he spirals further into tragedy and madness.

Almost seven years later, Jonathan finds himself back in the country for another Phantom world tour, which opens this February at The Theatre at Solaire. “Returning to Manila already makes this (production) a standout for me. I fell in love with the city and the people,” he says.

“It’s a brand new start for a timeless show,” he adds. “Now that I’m older, I have found that my voice has become more grounded, so there are new colors I am able to add. As an actor, I have had another seven years of life to bring to the role.”

In this interview, the award-winning South African actor discusses how he was drawn to the musical as a child, how playing the Phantom serves as “the best therapy” he’s had, and why the show continues to resonate with people all over the world.

SUPREME: What originally drew you to The Phantom of the Opera and the role of the Phantom? Have you found more to love about it over the years?

JONATHAN ROXMOUTH: The Phantom of the Opera was part of my childhood. My grandfather taught me how to conduct to the tape of the original London Cast Recording with Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman. As time has gone by, I have grown to love the show and the story more and more because we can all relate to the idea of being alone or misunderstood. The fact that it is the most romantic story with my favorite Andrew Lloyd Webber score is a bonus.

How would you describe your take on the Phantom? What emotions do you hope to elicit in the audience through your performance?

Jonathan Roxmouth has since found his voice after years of performing for The Phantom of the Opera.

My take on the Phantom is that he is like Peter Pan. He never grew up and still wants the things a child wants. Love, compassion, understanding. Things we take for granted. I am considered by some to be quite young for the role — which I consider a strength. He is often described as a prodigy — which implies abilities beyond normal age, so it fits! I hope to make the audience feel the very thing Erik craves: to be understood and loved.

How does the material resonate with you personally? Does it function as an outlet for you?

Phantom is the best therapy I have ever had. It is a catharsis every night and I hardly find that in the theater. I adore the character because there is a big overlap between the Phantom and I. Some of my friends in high school used to call me the Phantom because I was shy and would sit in the school hall playing the piano during break time. It is certainly an outlet because he feels everything with every fiber of his being. It’s the most exhausting role I have ever played but it is more than rewarding.

What are you most looking forward to for this run of The Phantom of the Opera?

I get to play the Phantom in the city where my last tour ended. It feels like I’m picking up where I left off. Not bursting into tears is going to be my biggest challenge. My heart feels like it is two sizes too big for my body.

What is it about this musical that makes it a thrill onstage and relevant to audiences even after over 30 years?

Everybody can relate to being rejected. To falling in love. To being human. That is what Phantom is about. The show has a magic about it from what you see to what you hear, to ultimately what you feel. In this day and age, there is so much distraction and negativity. Phantom is the only show I have seen where people are completely spellbound for two hours. Everything else disappears. That is the mark of theatrical magic.

* * *

Catch The Phantom of the Opera at the Theatre at Solaire this February. For tickets visit ticketworld.com.ph

JONATHAN ROXMOUTH THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA IN 2012
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