A black woman rarely seen in the role of “beauty, power, elegance” says the new phantom stage star | Theater

The first black actor to star as Christine Phantom of the Opera At the West End, we hope that playing that role will help change the casting for women in theater colors.

Lucy St. Louis will premiere in a stunningly successful musical later this month when the show resumes at His Majesty’s Theater in London, which opened 35 years ago. She has wanted to play that role ever since she saw her mother and grandmother playing the role of Sarah Brightman. As a kid, they introduced Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score to St. Louis.

“It’s very special to finally be in this position and open the door to women of many other colors,” said St. Louis, who played a role in giving black women “beauty, power and elegance.” He added that he rarely sees him. And “two guys want on stage”. In the musical, Christine is a singer loved by her childhood friend Raul and her tutor, the illusion of a mask living under the Paris Opera Ballet. She sings the popular duet All I Ask of You with Raoul, shares the title number with Phantom, and has her own solo, Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again. Based on Gaston Leroux’s novel and produced by Cameron Mackintosh and Really Youthful Group, the show is one of the highest-selling musicals to date, with more than 140 million people worldwide. Audience is gathered.

When St. Louis began, she was told that the roles she could use would be like oak. The Lion King Or black letters Dream woman And Color purple.. She admits that they are all great musicals, but “being in that box made me wonder a lot about the industry and what it represents.”After she played Diana Ross Musical MotownThe idea that her choices were limited not only to certain characters, but also to certain types of shows, such as jukebox musicals, persisted. “If you want to be seen playing other types of vocals in the industry, whether classical or jazz, you have to fight,” she said.

Reese Whitfield as Raoul, Killian Donnelly as Phantom, and Lucy St. Louis as Christine Daaé. Photo: Tim Bret-Day

The trap of being a typecast has taken time away from the industry, rather than auditioning for a show that limits people’s perception of her abilities. “I had to say no and retreat, and there is such a fear in it. Then will you be back in the industry? Get another job? After leaving the theater and calling her one of the most difficult years of her life, she starred in the English National Opera Man of La Mancha at the London Coliseum in 2019. This allowed her to show a different voice quality and eventually appeared. As Christine. She said the work “deeper into the story and portrays her with such strength and determination, but still has the compassion and kindness that she shows as a phantom.” ..

Her invitation to meet Sir Lloyd Webber resulted in a surreal “bucket list” scenario of playing a phantom song in a room with a composer. Lloyd Webber said he was “totally fascinated” by her performance when singing for him during the first and second national blockades. Uncertainty about the reopening of the theater meant that before St. Louis was publicly announced, it had to remain tighter than usual after being played in that role last November.

2016, Ali Ewalt Became the first Asian-American actor to play Christine on Broadway, and the first-colored woman. The news that St. Louis would be the first black actor to play Christine on Broadway or the West End had an overwhelmingly beautiful reaction, St. Louis said.But like casting Noma Dumezweni as Hermione Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Beverley Knight as Emmeline Pankhurst In Sylvia, it also led to her receiving an abusive message. It “indicates that we need to move forward within the industry and within the world. I don’t want my position to feel like the light of hope for people … we are all this You can be in space and celebrate everything. “

last summer, Open letter from Black Theater CollectiveSigned by more than 400 theater people, they called for “practical reforms” in British theater to make the industry more comprehensive and reduce hostility to people of color. It was emphasized that black performers often felt that the team was unsupported in the hair and wig department, which was not trained in how to handle Afro hair, creating unnecessary tension. Regarding the phantom, St. Louis said: “Being the first black woman to play this role in the waist end, it was very important for me to represent my rights, and to show that black hair and afro-textured hair have beauty. I wanted to celebrate it on stage. “

She provided her own notes about hair and makeup, and had a detailed conversation about her appearance as Christine “in the context and style of the times” of the musical. “We need to make the shows in all departments more diverse, including wigs, orchestras, wardrobes and stage managers,” says St. Louis. “When that expression is there, there is understanding and approval. There are people you can go to that you can help you. When I’ve worked on a show in the past, I I didn’t necessarily have it. “

Freelance instability means that actors often don’t feel safe enough to speak up on a variety of issues, she added. “Speaking is not a rebellious act. It is an act that makes the industry and this world a better place. We need to get rid of the stigma.” The production has worked closely with the company. Applause for thoughtLaunched in 2019 by actor Raffaella Covino, it promotes mental health guidance and support for people in the entertainment industry. Part of the company’s mission is for workers to act as intermediaries who can provide feedback rather than approaching employers directly.

Amid the uncertainties and turmoil of the pandemic, a musical rehearsal is underway, including Killian Donnelly as the phantom and Reese Whitfield as Raul in the cast. It will be open to a full capacity audience from July 27th. St. Louis is preparing for how musicals “consume” the lives of performers. She said it could be difficult to fall asleep after the show. “The energy from the audience and the energy we feel on stage is electrical. Usually I’m so high that it takes a few hours to relax.”

A black woman rarely seen in the role of “beauty, power, elegance” says the new phantom stage star | Theater

Source link A black woman rarely seen in the role of “beauty, power, elegance” says the new phantom stage star | Theater

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