Scandal star Norm Lewis is about to make history on Broadway. The actor has been cast as the first-ever Black lead in Phantom of the Opera. Lewis will be the first actor of color to play the Phantom in Andew Lloyd Webber's show, the longest-running in Broadway history.
Phantom of the Opera is a turn-of-the-century tale of a deformed composer haunting the Paris Opera House, where he lures in a young singer. Thirteen men have played the role of Phantom on Broadway, with Lewis being the 14th. “I’m just so excited to be a part of this history,” said Lewis.
“People have a certain vision of a particular character and, a lot of times, we as minorities don’t fit that particular vision,” said Lewis. “And now, I think that people are a little more open to that.”
Webber, the Broadway icon and creator of the show, said the Broadway world is becoming more colorblind. “I think everyone’s moved on to the point that you really don’t think that way,” he says. “Michael Jackson really wanted to play it at one point,” said Webber. “The other person who wanted to play it and never did, because I’m afraid his illness overtook him, was Sammy Davis.”
Ultimately, the honor went to Lewis, who, until now, is best-known for playing Senator Edison Davis on Scandal.
“I remember being so nervous and wanting it so badly,” says Lewis. “Right before I stepped on stage to do the audition, I really took a deep breath and, all of a sudden, I felt Paul Robeson, Ben Vereen, Andre DeShields. I stand on their shoulders. I felt them saying, ‘Just go do it. Just go prove to these people that you can do this.’”
Phantom of the Opera with Lewis in the lead begins on Monday, May 12 at the Majestic Theater.
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(Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)
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