‘Phantom of the Opera’ Welcomes First Black Lead on Broadway

Norm Lewis Phantom of the Opera
Walter McBride/Getty Images

'Scandal' actor to star in Broadway production of hit play

Norm Lewis will be the next Phantom in the multibillion-dollar grossing musical, “The Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway — making him the first African-American to play the role.

Producers said Thursday that Lewis will make his debut opposite Sierra Boggess, who returns as Christine, on May 12.

“I love the show but also to have hopefully set a precedent to see more diversity in casting,” he told the Associated Press.

Lewis performed on Broadway as John in “Miss Saigon,” Javert in “Les Miserables” and as Porgy in the 2011 stage revival of “Porgy and Bess.” He was also in the shows “Side Show,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Chicago” and “Sondheim on Sondheim.” On television, he recently played Kerry Washington’s love interest in ABC’s “Scandal.”

“Phantom” is based on Gaston Leroux’s novel about a deformed composer who haunts the Paris Opera House and falls in love with a young singer.

Lewis will join the likes of Michael Crawford, Steve Barton, John Cudia, Kevin Gray, Mark Jacoby, Marcus Lovett, Brad Little, Howard McGillin and Hugh Panaro, who have all played the Phantom at some point since the show opened in 1988.

“Phantom” has played to over 130 million people in 27 countries and has grossed more than $5.6 billion worldwide — more than any film in history, including “Avatar,” “Titanic,” “Gone With the Wind” and “Star Wars.”

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  1. jIM says:


  2. NormIsNoPhantom says:

    This is terrible! The Phantom isn’t black! I am HIGHLY disappointed.

  3. GreatOne says:

    Would be nice if everyone would stop listing “First Black This” or “First Woman That.” Who gives a crap. That’s how you end up looking stupid when it turns out this isn’t a “first” after all, like in this situation. Anyone who knew anything about Phantom of the Opera knew about Robert Guillaume, and for someone employed by Variety not to as well is embarrassing.

  4. He is NOT the first black actor to play the role ; it was played by Robert Guilliame not long after it first opened

  5. jdobypr says:

    Absolutely uplifting!!! Phantom is one of the best shows ever and to have a Black lead for the first time is groundbreaking…

  6. Paul Almeida says:

    STOP. What. No. Amazing. I love it.

  7. ardsmommy says:

    He is the first on Broadway. Robert Guillaume took over for Michael Crawford in the Los Angeles production and he was exceptional! I was privileged to see him back in 1990!

  8. Kevin says:

    robert guillaume was the first black Phantom. But I’m really excited to see Norm Lewis in this role!

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