An Interview with PHANTOM OF THE OPERA'S CHRISTINE, Emma Grimsley.

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THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA , the longest-running show in Broadway history has a new road production currently touring North America and is coming to Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre running October 9 to October 20, 2019.

One of the largest tours on the road today, there are 20 trucks that house all of the stage and prop sets and the cast and orchestra total 52 people, including 38 cast members! This tour touts a new Christine. Emma Grimsley, who began her first national tour with PHANTOM a little over two years ago as a Christine understudy and in August debuted as the tour's principal Christine.

From the original tour, the costumes remain the same, as does one of the actresses, Trista Moldavan. She played Carlotta in the original tour, was on Broadway playing Christine during the show's 10,000 performance on Broadway, and is playing Carlotta again on this tour.

I spoke with Emma by phone.

CS: Where are you from originally?

EG: I was born in New York but grew up mostly in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

CS: How did you get involved in theater?

EG: Both of my parents are opera singers, so I spent a lot of my childhood traveling with them from show to show. My first experiences on stage were in operas with my parents. As I got older and began performing on my own, I fell in love with plays and musical theatre as well.

CS: Can you give some early parts you played?

EG: My first big role in high school was Mabel in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, and my first big role in college was Cunegonde in Bernstein's Candide.

CS: What made you desire to have a career in theater.

EG: I grew up sitting in rehearsals with my parents. I fell in love with the process at an early age and have loved it ever since. There's nothing else like live theater-going on a story's journey with an audience full of people never gets old.

CS: How did you enjoy playing "Johanna" in SWEENEY TODD and Cunegonde in CANDIDE?

EG: I love playing both of these ladies! They're both very resourceful, finding strength when they most need it. And those two shows have such gorgeous scores.

CS: How long was the audition process for PHANTOM?

EG: Everybody has a different audition process story. Mine involved six different auditions over the course of about two years.

CS: Where and when did you first see PHANTOM?

EG: The first time I ever saw Phantom live was on my very first day of work with the national tour. It was thrilling to get to see it for the first time knowing I would get to be a part of that magic.

CS: What is your favorite part of the show?

EG: I feel like I have a different favorite part all the time, but I've always loved Masquerade at the beginning of Act II. The end of the first act leaves the audience on the edge of their seats, and Masquerade starts the second act off with so much energy and showcases a lot of the things that make our production really exciting-the music of course, but especially the set and choreography unique to this tour.

CS: I agree. My favorite part of the show. How are you enjoying your first national tour?

EG: I'm having a wonderful time on the road! Though traveling and performing at such a rate can be exhausting (a new city about every 2 weeks with 8 shows every week). It's exciting, too. And I'm very grateful for the community that our touring company (or "phamily" as we affectionately call ourselves) provides.

CS: What cities have you enjoyed the most?

EG: We just spent a month in Honolulu which was beyond beautiful. I also really enjoyed our time in Toronto.

CS: Have you ever been to Baltimore before?

EG: Yes, I spent some time in Baltimore when I was a little kid. I don't remember it that well, so I'm looking forward to getting to know it again!

CS: Have you ever had steamed crabs or crab cakes?

EG: I have, but never in Baltimore-I can't wait!

CS: Are you looking forward to visiting Baltimore? Do you have any family or friends in the area?

EG: Absolutely looking forward to it. This is only the 4th time Phantom has ever come to Baltimore in its 30-plus years, and I'm excited to get to share this iconic story with Baltimore audiences! I do have some family I've never met in Baltimore, and I'm really looking forward to meeting them.

CS: How long do you plan to be on the Tour?

EG: I'll be with the tour through its closing performance this February in Toronto.

CS: How would you describe your Character and your relationship with the Phantom?

EG: Christine is a young woman of extraordinary curiosity and bravery. You first meet her as a dancer in the Paris Opera's corps de ballet, and it's not long before her potential is clear not only to herself but to everyone around her. I think her journey with the Phantom plays into those qualities of hers-curiosity and bravery. She's drawn to what's mysterious about him, she sees things about him others may not see, and along the way she figures out a lot about herself.

PHANTOM OF THE OPERA runs at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre October 9 to October 20, 2019. For tickets, call 410-837-7400.

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From This Author Charles Shubow