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Hugh Panaro Set to Lead THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA 25th Anniversary Celebration

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Principal cast changes have been announced for the Broadway production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, the longest-running show in Broadway history. Produced by Cameron Mackintosh/Really Useful Group, Inc. and directed by Harold Prince, the musical phenomenon is in its unprecedented 25th year in New York, playing at The Majestic Theatre (247 West 44th Street).

Current leading man Hugh Panaro has been confirmed as the creative team's choice to play the "Man Behind the Mask" during the upcoming celebrations for the production's 25th Anniversary in January 2013. Mr. Panaro has a long association with THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and is one of the few actors to have been cast in both of the musical's male leading roles, The Phantom and Raoul. He was first cast in December 1990 as Raoul, a role he would play for over two years and more than 900 performances. In February 1999 he was invited to take over the title role, becoming the tenth of twelve men to be cast as The Phantom on Broadway, and earning rave reviews.

To date, Mr. Panaro has played The Phantom with the New York Company over 1,800 times in 3 different engagements, including his most recent return that began in September 2010. All combined, he's performed (as both The Phantom and Raoul) in over 2,800 performances of the Broadway production.

Producers are also pleased to announce that fans will have additional chances to see international THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA star Marni Raab this winter before she concludes her most recent engagement with the Broadway production this coming January 2013. Ms. Raab has played the leading role of Christine Daaé across the country and around the world and is currently the New York Company's Christine Alternate. She will resume performances as the Principal Christine on Tuesday, November 13. (The Principal Christine plays six performances a week with the Christine Alternate playing two.)

Ms. Raab also has a long, unique history with the show, including numerous engagements with the U.S. Tour between September 2001 and 2008 and originating the role of Christine for the Asian World Tour between December 2004 and August 2006. She became the thirteenth actress to be cast as Christine in the Broadway production in August 2008. In June 2009 she assumed the role of the Christine Alternate, which she's played to date. On Broadway, she has played the role of Christine over 650 times, making her the fifth longest-running Christine in the production's history.

Ms. Raab succeeds Trista Moldovan, who will play her final performance as Christine on Saturday evening, November 10. Ms. Moldovan's history with THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA began in June 2008 when she joined the National Tour as a member of the Ensemble and covering the role of Christine. She quickly assumed the role of Christine, earning a Denver Ovation nomination as Best Actress. She continued to perform the role for over two years, most notably having the distinction of playing it as part of the closing company in Los Angeles in October 2010, marking the end of the most successful touring show in U.S. history. She joined the Broadway production as Christine in December 2011.

Four other principal cast changes are being announced, all beginning Monday evening, November 12.

Tony Award nominee Tim Jerome (Me and My Girl) will return to the production as gruff opera house manager Monsieur Firmin, a role he previously played when he was selected by the Creative Team to be part of the cast when THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA broke the record to become the longest-running show in Broadway history in January 2006. He played the role from October 2005 through January 2006. His other many stage credits include the Broadway productions of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, Grand Hotel, The Magic Show, Cats, Lost in Yonkers, The Rothschilds, Man of La Mancha, The Lyons, La Boheme and Creation of the World; as well as dozens of major roles Off-Broadway and regionally including the original companies of A 1940's Radio Hour, Tintypes, Romance in Hard Times, Tomfoolery and Plenty. His many films include Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives, Celebrity, Deconstructing Harry and Everyone Says I Love You.

Mr. Jerome succeeds Kevin Ligon who assumed the role in September 2011. His final performance will be Saturday, November 10.

Current cast member Jim Weitzer, a former Raoul (the third romantic lead in the musical), will make the transition from his current role as Monsieur Reyer to the principal role of comic opera house manager Monsieur André. Originally a Raoul on the National Tour, Mr. Weitzer was the ninth actor to take over the role of Raoul in the Broadway production. He is the only actor cast as Raoul to take over the role of André in the Broadway production.

Mr. Weitzer succeeds Aaron Galligan-Stierle, who assumed the role in September 2011. His final performance will be Saturday, November 10.

Ellen Harvey will make her THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA debut as the mysterious ballet mistress Madame Giry. MS. Harvey memorably originated the role of Miss Jones in the 2011 revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying starring Daniel Radcliffe. Her other credits include the Broadway productions of The Music Man and Thou Shalt Not, Shakespeare in the Park's Into the Woods (Cinderella's Stepmother), New York City Opera's Most Happy Fella and national tours of Mary Poppins (Miss Andrew, Helen Hayes nomination), Disney's High School Musical (Ms. Darbus), Mamma Mia! (Tanya) and Sunset Boulevard.

MS. Harvey succeeds Cristin J. Hubbard, a long-time Broadway cast member who joined as a member of the Ensemble in January 2009 before taking over as Madame Giry in June 2009. Her final performance will be Saturday, November 10.

Making her PHANTOM and Broadway debut will be Canadian actress Samantha Hill, who will become the Christine Alternate. An Ovation Award nominee for her performance as Clara in the Vancouver production of The Light in the Piazza, her other Canadian credits include Regional premieres of August: Osage County (Jean), Spring Awakening (Wendla), Nine (Carla) and Cats (Rumpleteaser). Other shows include Annie (Lily St. Regis), Chicago (Hunyak) and Beauty & the Beast (Belle).

Ms. Hill succeeds Ms. Raab as the Christine Alternate when Ms. Raab resumes performances as the Principal Christine.

Continuing in their roles with the New York Company are Kyle Barisich (Raoul), Michele McConnell (Carlotta), Christian Sêbek (Piangi) and Kara Klein (Meg).

As recently announced, and following Ms. Raab's engagement as Christine, Broadway and West End star Sierra Boggess will join the New York cast beginning the week of January 21, 2013 for a strictly limited engagement in connection with the 25th Anniversary. Ms. Boggess' long history with the musical began when she originated the role of Christine in the revised Las Vegas production in 2006. She later played the role for the London production's 25th Anniversary, which was marked by a special production at The Royal Albert Hall in October 2011. She was also chosen to originate the role of Christine in Love Never Dies, Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical sequel to THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, earning her a 2011 Olivier Award nomination. Ms. Boggess is currently starring in Cameron Mackintosh's original, record-breaking London production of Les Misérables as Fantine.

The Broadway production's 25th Anniversary will be marked by a Special Gala Performance the night of Saturday, January 26, 2013. While many of the evening's details are being kept under wraps, the special night will begin with an early 6:30 PM performance at The Majestic Theatre (247 West 44th Street), the musical's home for its entire run. Details for the historic performance and celebration, including all additional casting, will be announced in the coming weeks.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA currently stars Hugh Panaro in the title role with Trista Moldovan as Christine and Kyle Barisich as Raoul. The musical co-stars Aaron Galligan-Stierle (Monsieur André), Kevin Ligon (Monsieur Firmin), Michele McConnell (Carlotta), Cristin J. Hubbard (Madame Giry), Christian Šebek (Piangi) and Kara Klein (Meg Giry). At certain performances, Marni Raab plays Christine.

The performance schedule for THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is Monday evenings at 8PM, Tuesday evenings at 7PM, Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8PM, with matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2PM. Ticket prices range from $27 – $137 with Premium Tickets also available. To order tickets, visit telecharge.com or call (212) 239-6200.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

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