Broadway's Phantom Star Sierra Boggess on 25th Anniversaries, the ‘Dark Cloud' of Rebecca, and Honoring Theater's Past
The rising star talks candidly about her evolution with the longest-running show in Broadway history.
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind for Sierra Boggess. Less than a day after finishing her run as the ill-fated Fantine in the London production of Les Miserables, the Colorado-native hopped a plane to New York City, where she began rehearsals for her engagement as young soprano Christine Daae in Broadway's The Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theatre, in honor of the show's landmark 25th Anniversary on January 26. Boggess is no stranger to Christine, having not only played the role on the Las Vegas stage and the London production's quarter-of-a-century concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011, but also playing a more mature Christine in its sequel, Love Never Dies.
In the midst of her four-day rehearsal period, we chatted with the happily busy Boggess, whose Broadway appearances also include The Little Mermaid and Master Class, about the landmark anniversary of Phantom, starring in Les Miserables with her fiancée (Tam Mutu), the oft-delayed Rebecca (in which she was supposed to star), and how honoring the past helps her to remember why she got into show business.
Welcome back to town! Give us a timeline of your month so far.
I did my last show of Les Miserables on Thursday night (January 10). Friday (January 11), I got home to New York in the evening and fell right to sleep. I had Saturday and Sunday to unpack and get my life in order, and then I began rehearsals for Phantom on Monday (January 14). I have four days of rehearsal and then Monday (January 21), I'm in the show. It's my favorite way to go, though: keep going and then you don't have time to think about it. On Thursday night, I could honor my time at Les Miz, and go out with everyone, and truly solidify that amazing experience, and then literally on the plane I started focusing on Phantom.
What's more intimidating: joining the Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera with four days of rehearsal, or the knowledge that you'll have been the Christine Daae of both the London and New York 25th Anniversary performances?
Neither intimidates me! Should I be intimidated? The most intimidating experience to date was doing the 25th Anniversary production in London [at the Royal Albert Hall]. Nothing will ever be as [nerve-wracking]. We didn't even have time to tech the entire show. We got through the first act, and were on that night and live to cinemas around the world.
Let's talk a bit about your evolution with The Phantom of the Opera. How did you get involved with the show to begin with?
I was doing Les Miserables on the road, and I auditioned for the new production of Phantom in Las Vegas. Once again, I left Les Miz to do Phantom. Because it was a brand new production, my audition was for [director] Hal Prince, [composer] Andrew Lloyd Webber, and [choreographer] Gillian Lynne, and that was pretty incredible for me. And then I did [the Phantom sequel] Love Never Dies for Andrew, and the 25th Anniversary concert in London because Andrew asked me to do that. So I thank him from the bottom of my heart for my career. I absolutely, unhealthily, love [Phantom].
Looking backwards, what was the Love Never Dies experience like?
It was a mammoth production, and I think that it's one of the greatest scores Andrew has ever written. I love the character so much, and I loved just seeing where she would go, especially with our director, Jack O'Brien. I hope that it does have a life here. Could it? Yes. Should it? Yes.
What was it like to be in Les Miserables in London at the same time that the film version is garnering acclaim across the world?
It was pretty incredible. There was so much buzz while I was over there. The cast was given the evening off to walk the red carpet [during the premiere]. It's hard to be objective while you're doing the show, so I look forward to seeing the movie again. I was so excited to see all the West End stars within the film, and Colm Wilkinson [as the Bishop]. What I loved about doing it in London is that it was the original production. I'm a sucker for "original." Keep it original. As an American, doing the show in London is eerie. You can feel the energy of everyone who has gone before.
And you got to do the show with your fiancée, Tam Mutu (though he, as Javert, and you, as Fantine, only interact briefly).
That was really nice because we were getting to work together, but not be on top of each other.
Have you set a wedding date yet?
It's really difficult to figure out a wedding date with both of our schedules. I'm just enjoying being engaged.
You and Tam were also set to star on Broadway in Rebecca. Were you able to follow the even more extended saga of that show while you were in London?
How could you not? For a while, it seemed like it was all people were talking about on the theater sites. [Ed. Not Guilty.] I find it fascinating that, given what this show is about, it has such a dark cloud over it. My heart went out completely to the cast and crew and orchestra, because they had been hanging on for over a year, unemployed, waiting for that job to start. I don't know any of the details of the legal stuff, if it was true that someone was trying to sabotage the production, but I hope whatever happens, the show will keep going...The thing is, nobody promised us that [this business] was going to be stable. No one said everything was going to be okay.
You faced a similar delay with the Hal Prince revue, Prince of Broadway. Is that show still in your pipeline?
I hope, so much, that that show has a life. Hal is an amazing person, and I want to do a show that honors him… [I think] it's time for us to sit back and honor the people who've come before, and to remember why we wanted to go into this business. I wanted to be on Broadway and in the West End, and I didn't pave the way. People like Gillian Lynne and Hal Prince are in their eighties and have the gift of being older, so I can listen to their wisdom.
Seeing everyone for the 25th Phantom Anniversary this week must be exciting.
In what show do you get to celebrate the 25th Anniversary? It's going to be a very special evening.