‘PHAN­TOM’ TOUR­ING CAST EX­ITS THE STAGE

Long­time ‘Phan­tom of the Opera’ tour­ing com­pany mem­bers face the fi­nal cur­tain.

Los Angeles Times - - Arts & Books - Su­san King

Af­ter the chan­de­lier drops on the Hal­loween night per­for­mance of “The Phan­tom of the Opera” at the Pan­tages The­atre, the show’s cast mem­bers will be look­ing for their next gig af­ter years, and in at least one case, decades, of job se­cu­rity with the ven­er­a­ble mu­si­cal.

“Does The Times have any open­ings?” asks Tim Martin Glea­son, who has been with “Phan­tom” on tour, on Broad­way and in Las Ve­gas since 2001 as a mem­ber of the en­sem­ble, the ro­man­tic in­ter­est Raoul and, for the last 16 months, as the tor­tured, masked Phan­tom.

The An­drew Lloyd Web­ber, Charles Hart and Richard Stil­goe mu­si­cal based on the Gas­ton Ler­oux clas­sic is still go­ing strong on Broad­way in its 23rd year. But its pro­duc­ers say the na­tional tour is com­ing to an end.

“Phan­tom” has been on the road since 1989, when it opened with the orig­i­nal Broad­way lead ac­tor, Michael Craw­ford, at the Ah­man­son. The first na­tional tour, dubbed the Chris­tine Com­pany, played L.A. and San Fran­cisco for 10 years. The sec­ond na­tional tour, which pro­duc­ers called the Raoul Tour, ran for 81⁄ years in ma­jor cities. The cur­rent tour, known as the Mu­sic Box Com­pany, will have played some 7,284 per­for­mances over 18 years.

Trista Moldovan, 30, has played Chris­tine, the ob­ject of the Phan­tom and Raoul’s af­fec­tion, for the past 21⁄ years with only a brief time off from the tour to do a pro­duc­tion of Ten­nessee Wil­liams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at the Arkansas Reper­tory The­atre.

She was 12 when she first saw “Phan­tom,” on tour in Cleve­land. “I fell in love with the Phan­tom and mu­si­cal theater,” she says. “What drew me in was purely the spec­ta­cle and the mu­sic. What draws me in now is the love story. Peo­ple go back time and time again be­cause it’s very en­dear­ing to root for the un­der­dog.”

Over the years, she played op­po­site three Phan­toms and sev­eral un­der­stud­ies.

“Tim is very volatile but sexy at the same time,” she says. “I love work­ing off that en­ergy. I still feel like I have been beaten up by a base­ball bat ev­ery night, but play­ing to a new city ev­ery month you’re play­ing to a dif­fer­ent au­di­ence. Not only does this show hold a very spe­cial place in my heart, this na­tional tour holds a very spe­cial place in my heart be­cause never in a mil­lion years [did] I think I would be part of it.”

Un­like Moldovan, Glea­son was not im­pressed when he saw “Phan­tom” on Broad­way when he was 18. “I had sung when I was a kid and I was do­ing plays in high school so I kind of liked mu­si­cals, but I was bored with ‘Phan­tom.’ ’’

But that all changed when he turned 25. He was part of cor­po­rate Amer­ica — he’d had stints at En­ter­prise Rent-a-Car, Pi­o­neer Elec­tron­ics and as an ac­tu­ary/ac­coun­tant at a con­sult­ing firm — and at that point was mis­er­able. “So I started to think, maybe I should do some theater again,” Glea­son says. “So I started do­ing com­mu­nity theater at night and thought maybe this is what I should be do­ing [for a liv­ing]. I saw ‘ Phan­tom’ again and it re­ally hit me how great it was.”

He be­gan in the “Phan­tom” tour in De­cem­ber 2001 and within two months was play­ing Raoul and un­der­study­ing the Phan­tom. He did the tour for three years, went on Broad­way as the ri­val for a year and then opened the Las Ve­gas pro­duc­tion as the ti­tle char­ac­ter. He played the Phan­tom as an un­der­study some 150 times and in May 2009 took over full time as the Phan­tom on tour.

THE PHAN­TOM:

Joan Mar­cus

Tim Martin Glea­son has played var­i­ous roles since 2001.

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