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Photo Flash: First Look at Trista Moldovan in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

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 24th year in New York, playing at The Majestic Theatre (247 West 44th Street). 

National Tour star Trista Moldovan makes her Broadway debut when she assumes the leading role of Christine Daaé beginning Friday, December 9. Ms. Moldovan is the fifteenth actress to take over as the Broadway production's leading lady. Check out Moldovan in action in the photos below!

Trista Moldovan has a long history with PHANTOM, having first joined the National Tour in June 2008 as a member of the Ensemble and covering the role of Christine. She quickly assumed the role of Christine only two months later, 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. The spectacular event, featuring a special on stage presentation by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and original star Sarah Brightman, marked the end of the most successful touring show in U.S. history. With an unprecedented combined total of 36 years and over 14,500 performances, three U.S. national touring companies (not including the New York production) grossed over $1.5 billion between 1989 and 2010.

PHANTOM will mark Ms. Moldovan's Broadway debut. Her other stage credits include Cosette in the Regional premiere of Les Misérables, Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Louise in Gypsy, Sally in Cabaret, Sarah in Guys and Dolls, Billy Dawn in Born Yesterday and Carla in Nine. She also enjoyed the honor of working with Julie Andrews in the musical Simeon's Gift at The Bay Street Theatre.

Ms. Moldovan succeeds Sara Jean Ford, who will play her final performance as Christine on Saturday evening, December 3. Ms. Ford originally made her PHANTOM debut with the Broadway Company in 2007 as the Mirror Bride and covering the role of Christine. She then took over the role of Christine on the National Tour in September 2007, playing it for nearly a year. She assumed the role of Christine with the Broadway Company in September 2010.

Continuing in their roles with the New York Company are Hugh Panaro (The Phantom), Kyle Barisich (Raoul), Michele McConnell (Carlotta), Aaron Galigan-Stierle (Monsieur André), Kevin Ligon (Monsieur Firmin) and Christian Sêbek (Piangi). At certain performances, Marni Raab plays Christine.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is the longest-running show in Broadway history. Since surpassing the then-record run of Cats in January 2006, the production has played an additional 6 years and over 2,400 performances - which by itself would be a smash hit run for a Broadway musical. Its longevity is unprecedented and PHANTOM remains miles ahead of all competition. The long-closed Cats remains a distant second, having run just shy of 18 years. The closest currently-running show is the revival of Chicago, which reached 15 years in November 2011.

On Broadway, since its debut on January 26, 1988, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA has grossed over $835 million, making it the highest-grossing show in Broadway history. Total attendance is over 14.5 million and it is the winner of 7 Tony Awards including Best Musical. Now in its phenomenal 24th Year, the Broadway production remains a box office camp and continues to play with no end in sight. It is on track to become the first Broadway show to reach 10,000 performances (in February 2012) and 25 Years (in January 2013).

Its international success - equally staggering - is represented by total worldwide grosses estimated at over $5.6 billion. This colossal figure makes PHANTOM the most successful entertainment venture of all time, with revenues higher than any film or stage play in history, including Titanic, Star Wars and far surpassing the world's highest-grossing film Avatar (at $2.7 billion). Worldwide, over 65,000 performances have been seen by 130 million people in 27 countries and 145 cities. The flagship London production, which opened in 1986 at Her Majesty's Theatre, celebrated 25 years in October. The show has won more than 60 major theater awards, including seven Tony Awards and three Olivier Awards in the West End.

 Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

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