There is something rewarding about seeing an actress begin in a role, hone her craft while on stage, and return much later to see that not only is she bringing her best to the role, but she is completely comfortable in it. She is letting everyone know by her confidence, singing with power and conviction, that this role now belongs entirely to her.
Add to that the fact that she will perform the role through the end of its run—a Broadway show that has been at the Majestic Theater for more than 30 years—and you have a moment that dreams are made of.
The show I’m talking about is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera,” and the young lady I am referring to is Emilie Kouatchou, the first Black actress to play the role of Christine.
Kouatchou first performed the role at some performances, but over time, was offered the position as the principal. I recall interviewing her then; she was very excited and proud to be the first Black female cast in the role as the principal. In an interview in March 2022, she said she was grateful to all the Black female sopranos who paved the way for her, like Audra McDonald, Heather Headley, and Patina Miller. Realizing she was making history, Kouatchou was thrilled and humbled.
The biggest shining moment for her comes with the song “Think of Me.” According to the actress, that’s when she felt she was having her moment in the sun and it was overwhelming.
For me, as a huge fan of the musical and now of Kouatchou, the biggest and most touching, moving moment is when she beautifully sings “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again.” This song has a special significance for me because I recently lost someone who was very dear to me. Kouatchou’s voice was so gorgeous and radiated so brightly that I was sobbing with appreciation and memories.
This musical has an extraordinary book by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgore, along with music by Webber and lyrics by Charles Hart, with the one-of-a-kind direction of the late Harold Prince. It is something you won’t soon forget. But you only have until April 16 to experience it.
Kouatchou also shares the stage with Ben Crawford, who does an amazing job in the role of the Phantom. He is a tortured soul on so many levels, but he is also a man who has a one-sided love. Crawford has a voice that will chill your soul.
Kouatchou is also joined on stage by Paul Adam Schaefer, who plays Raoul, her love interest. Kouatchou will make you glad you went.
Go see “The Phantom of the Opera” and experience “the music of the night”! For tickets, visit PhantomBroadway.com.