The “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway, at the Majestic Theatre, has boldly cast the first African-American as Raoul (Jordan Donica) and the first Asian-American as Christine (Ali Ewoldt). To have minority actors in these lead roles is a fantastic occurrence. Their performances merit the confidence put in them. Of course “Phantom of the Opera” is the same production that in the past boldly had Norm Lewis as the first Black Phantom.
Donica has a smooth, enchanting, deep voice, and this 22-year-old, fresh out of college and making his Broadway debut, brings a fresh, vibrant, intense portrayal to the role of Raoul, the wealthy backer of a doomed opera company. At 6-foot-4, his physical presence onstage is as massive as the passion and heart he puts into his performances. He is definitely doing Otterbein University—where he recently graduated cum laude with a BFA in Musical Theater—proud!
Ewoldt has an amazing voice as Christine and brings every song to its perfect pitch. She reaches and maintain notes with ease and grace. And the chemistry between Donica and Ewoldt is a thing of beauty. At 5-foot-2 Ewoldt has the most adorable, petite frame and seems so well protected by Donica’s tall, muscular figure. When they sing “All I Ask of You,” the feelings are explosive and passionate, and the kisses they share spark fire.
James Barbour is phenomenal as the Phantom. His voice is powerful, commanding and at times heart-breaking. He plays this malformed, misunderstood character in such a mesmerizing way you can’t take your eyes off him.
“Phantom of the Opera” has lasted for decades of course because of the moving, powerful music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the fantastic direction of Harold Prince. “Phantom of the Opera” will touch your heart and soul. There’s a reason why it’s the longest running show in Broadway history.