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BWW Interview: Susan Moniz as Madame Giry in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA on Tour

BWW Interview: Susan Moniz as Madame Giry in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA on Tour

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA first opened in London's West End in 1986 and later on Broadway in 1988. It continues to be among the most popular shows visitors have to see when in New York and continues to hold the record for the longest running show in Broadway history. As the show tours around North America, audiences are blown away by the talents of this amazing cast. As THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA makes it way to San Antonio, Texas, BWW had a chance to catch up with Susan Moniz who recently joined the cast and plays Madame Giry.

You've had a chance to play many different roles over the years and have had many great opportunities. What are some of your favorite roles you've played?

There are two ways of looking at it. Sometimes it's the one that personally means a lot to me or sometimes it's the ones you meet people backstage that has nothing to do with what's happening onstage. One of the ones that would do both was FUN HOME. I travelled with that last year. That was a beautiful, profound experience. It's a beautiful piece, great company; everyone in it was so dedicated and really felt lucky to be doing the show. So, that was a special one. But, then there are ones that go back 30 years where I met my best friend. It was a terrible show, so I'm not going to mention it. Then one like the classic WEST SIDE STORY that I always wanted to do ever since I was a kid and would watch the movie. I finally got to do that when I was in my 20's. There are so many different reasons why they're special to me.

What do you think was the catalyst that took you on the route that you have taken in your life?

It was where I felt home. I was an incredibly shy child and you could not get me to do anything publicly. I remember in elementary school, they would try to get me to do things and I would go in a corner to try and be ignored. But even though I felt very self-conscious, I knew I wanted to perform and got a little more confident when I had the opportunity to do more things in high school. I started singing in choirs and it grew from there. Anything to do with the arts, I just felt at home, I felt right, I felt peace. I knew somewhere in there I would have to find my place. This just happened to be where it developed, where it grew and how I was able to actually do it for a living.

Was it one defining moment where it finally clicked or was it more gradual?

In college, I was an art major for a little bit of time. Then I was, "I'll be a costume designer." I knew I wanted to perform but hadn't a clue how to actually make a living at it and thought designing was a safer bet. Once I started performing and really dedicate myself to that in school, however, then I knew that's where I wanted to be. Once you graduate with a theater degree, it's like you're starting from scratch again. You have no idea how to really do it. Especially years ago, there weren't performing arts programs that set you up with auditions after and help guide you. You would wing everything. Even though I knew it's what I wanted to do, by the time I was in college [it was] once I got out into the real world, I started getting jobs that I felt more secure in it.

Let's talk about PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and how you got involved?

I was lucky enough to get a call a little while ago from my agent asking me if I was interested. I tend not to go out of town. I work mainly in Chicago. That's where I've been working for most of my life. Now that my children are grown, I've been open to work that may take me out of town. So, when this opportunity came up, they asked. Are you interested? And I said sure. I was lucky enough to get it. It was fairly simple going into New York to see be seen. I was really lucky. So that's basically how it happened. The classic when you agent calls, "Do you wanna do it?" And you actually get it. It's the perfect way for it to turn out so I feel fortunate it happened that way.

Do you find it exhilarating now that you are on the road touring as opposed to sit downs in Chicago?

It's a double-edged sword. It can be really fun to tour. This is an extremely large show - a beast of a show. It's amazing just how they do this piece of theater. So, it's exciting to watch it. It's exciting to be part of that machine. On the other hand, I'd like to be able to go home to my own home. I miss my husband, I miss my kids. It's a beautiful thing especially for younger people who have no strings and feel "I'm ready. Give me something new and exciting." I'm not complaining, though! I'm happy to be here. But I miss the people who ground me and that would be my family back home. I'm still new to this particular production. I just joined a little while ago. I've been surprised by this production; how exciting it is to watch. The new overall design is amazing. I hadn't seen it in years. I saw the New York production years ago. I want to encourage people to take another look at it. There are so many fans out there. I'm amazed at how many fans there are that are dedicated lifelong fans. Now, I'm becoming one. I just want to share my excitement with people about it.

Tell us more about your cookie mold company and how that came about?

I came about it organically. I've always been artsy and craftsy and I always liked making interesting opening night gifts. I also love to bake. I've always been a baker and I had this revelation one day of - literally it was like a little lightbulb moment in my head. I just started doing it for opening night gifts. I was mostly motivated to make some fun opening night gifts. Once I realized I was able to make this happen, I would produce them and make them for opening nights and people started getting interested in them and asked about me making them for birthdays and other occasions. So, it kind of grew organically from that. So, it started because of the theater in the first place. And, I have more ideas than I have time to make them. It is fun. It's another artistic outlet. It's like therapy. I consider baking therapy. Some people like gardening. Some people like carpentry. All those things sooth the soul. Baking does that for me. I'd like to think that this helps other people find that as well (Check out her website for Cookie Molds on her website - Artesao Unique & Custom Cookie Molds ).

What advice do you have for anyone thinking about getting into the business?

Be sure it's really, really what you love to do because it's a really tough business. You have to have a thick skin. It's very cliché but you really do. There is a lot of rejection. Work is never secure. There's a lot of sacrifice when you do get a job because you have to work holidays or be away from home. If there is nothing else you can imagine yourself doing - go for it and get as much training as you can. Learn at every job. Absorb everything you can when you watch people that you respect - absorb that. School never stops. Never stop learning. I have so many different things to say; it's not succinct because there are people that do it for a while and say, "OK, it's not what I want for me." Or there are people who decide later on to do it in life. Just try to have something else in your life that gives you peace because it's a hard job. But, if you love it, go for it. Dedicate yourself and don't hold back. Learn as much as you can in any opportunity you can.

Don't miss the chance to see THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio from December 6-16, 2018. Get tickets at their website: www.majesticempire.com

PHOTO CREDIT: Alastair Muir

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