Australian native Maree Johnson, who currently plays Madame Giry in the Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera, will take a leave of absence from the New York production to play the ballet mistress in Opera Australia's production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical at Sydney Harbour.
Johnson will offer her final performance in New York February 13 and will return to the Broadway cast May 12. During her absence, veteran Phantom cast member Rebecca Eichenberger will play Madame Giry.
Both actors have long histories with the international hit musical.
Johnson, who opened the premiere Australian production of Phantom in Melbourne in 1990 as a member of the ensemble and a cover for Christine, later became the Christine Alternate. When the production moved to Sydney in 1994, she rejoined the cast as Christine. She has been playing Madame Giry on Broadway since 2017.
Eichenberger was initially cast as opera diva Carlotta in April 2011, playing 700 performances on Broadway through June 2003. She returned to the New York production in April 2016 as Madame Giry, a role she played through December 2016.
Opera Australia's outdoor production of Phantom, which opens March 25, will be led by Melbourne-born Joshua Robson as The Phantom, Brisbane performer Georgina Hopson as Christine, and West End and Broadway musical theatre performer Callum Francis as Raoul Vicomte de Chagny.
The company will also feature Naomi Johns as Carlotta, Paul Tabone as Piangi, Michael Cormick as Firmin, Martin Crewes as Andre, Kelsi Boyden as Meg Giry, Daniel Macey as Buquet, Lachlan O’Brien as Reyer, Raphael Wong as Passarino, Matt Heyward as the Hairdresser, Tod Strike as the Jeweller, and Elliot Baker as Don Attilo.
The ensemble includes Johanna Allen, Sarah Bakker,
Ben Clark, Jack Connor-Rowan, Andrew Coshan, Emma Dawson, Sarah Dimas, Pedro Donoso,
David Duketis, Jack Evans, Trina Farrelly, Keane Fletcher, Lewis Francis, Allie Graham, Giselle
Graham, Caitie Hawkins, Tianna Koolloos, Elisha Zion Lee, Michaela Leisk, Josephine
Lonergan, Imogen-Faith Malfitano, Douglas McRae, Sarah Murr, Annabelle Rosewarne, Amelia
Sanzo, Megan Schoenmaker, Andy Seymour, Bree Stephens, Maddison Toomey, and Georgia
The Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour season of The Phantom of the Opera is directed by Simon Phillips with set and costume design by Gabriela Tylesova. Performances will continue through April 24.
Directed by the late Harold Prince, The Phantom of the Opera reopened October 22, 2021, at Broadway's Majestic following the pandemic shutdown. The complete Phantom orchestra—Broadway’s largest—also returned, under the continued musical supervision of David Caddick with the musical’s original orchestrations.
The Phantom of the Opera has music by Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Charles Hart (with additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe), and a book by Stilgoe and Lloyd Webber. The production also features musical staging and choreography by Gillian Lynne, scenic and costume design by Maria Björnson, lighting design by Andrew Bridge, and sound design by Martin Levan with Caddick as music director. Cameron Mackintosh and Lloyd Webber's The Really Useful Group serve as producers.
The Broadway staging of the London-originated show won seven 1988 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Previews on Broadway began January 9, 1988, with an official opening January 26. The original Broadway cast featured Michael Crawford, Sarah Brightman, Judy Kaye, and the late Steve Barton.