Emilie Kouatchou (Matthew Murphy photo)

There is Broadway history being made of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. After running for more than 30 years on Broadway, Emilie Kouatchou made history as the first African-American woman to step into the role of Christine Daaé.

Kouatchou made her Broadway debut on October 27th and has been mesmerizing audiences and creating that positive wave of accolades from critics and fans alike.

Because of the vocal demands required to sing this role, Kouatchou shares the role of Christine Daaé with Meghan Picerno, where she will play Christine three times per week at certain performances.

At the performance that I attend with the rising Puerto Rican artist “tatoverdose” https://bit.ly/3wDh43Z the people directly in front and behind us were THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA aficionados who had seen the play many times but it was the excitement of watching Kouatchou on stage that drew them back to the theater.

Based on Gaston Leroux’s horror novel, the musical tells the story of the Phantom, who haunts the stage of the Paris Opera and subsequently falls in love with a beautiful young soprano. The Broadway staging of the London-originated show won seven 1988 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

I don’t mind admitting that when Kouatchou took the stage, I could not take my eyes off her and it wasn’t because she was the only spot of color in a sea of white performers. There is something more and I can’t exactly place my finger on it but she commands the stage before she even opened her mouth.

Now — when Kouatchou began to sing, again, I don’t mind sharing that I had goosebumps running up and down my arms. I felt myself sitting up straight and pushing my body closer towards the stage. Her voice was moving me. During intermission, the people around us were buzzing like busy bees — impressed and emotionally filled by this woman’s performance.

If you’ve never seen THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA take the opportunity and experience this classic. If you’ve seen this remarkable musical before — take a note from the theatergoers that were all around us and go back to hear Emilie Kouatchou in her historic moment.

Kouatchou credits include Unknown Soldier (Playwrights Horizons); Oklahoma! (Broadway at Music Circus, Sacramento, CA); Merrily We Roll Along, Passing Strange, Me and My Girl, Violet, A Man of No Importance (The University of Michigan); Sweeney Todd (Connecticut Repertory Theater). She’s a Graduate University of Michigan’s Musical Theatre program. And wants you to know that in her heart —All Black Lives Matter.

The longest-running show in Broadway history, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, directed by Harold Prince, reopened on Broadway Friday, October 22, 2021 – 19 months after the industry-wide shut down due to the Covid pandemic.

Produced by Cameron Mackintosh and The Really Useful Group, PHANTOM has been the longest-running show in Broadway history for well over a decade, and its astounding longevity in New York and around the world is unprecedented.

On Broadway alone, the musical has played an unheard of more than 13,000 performances to 19 million people at The Majestic Theatre (245 West 44th Street). As much a part of the city landscape as the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA remains an iconic New York City landmark, and its return marks the symbolic return of “Broadway” and New York City itself.

Returning to lead the cast are Ben Crawford as The Phantom, Picerno as Christine Daaé, and John Riddle as Raoul, with Bradley Dean as Monsieur André, Craig Bennett as Monsieur Firmin, Raquel Suarez Groen as Carlotta Giudicelli, Maree Johnson as Madame Giry, and Carlton Moe as Ubaldo Piangi. Sara Esty joins the company as Meg Giry.

The ensemble includes Giselle Alvarez, Polly Baird, Janinah Burnett, Xiaoxiao Cao, David Michael Garry, Chris Georgetti, Kelly Jeanne Grant, Katharine Heaton, Satomi Hofmann, Ted Keegan, Kfir, Kelly Loughran, Scott Mikita, Greg Mills, Justin Peck, Patricia Phillips, Richard Poole, Jessica Radetsky, Lindsay Roberts, Janet Saia, Paul A. Schaefer, Carly Blake Sebouhian, Jeremy Stolle, Carrington Vilmont, Jim Weitzer, Elizabeth Welch, and Erica Wong.

Keeping their eye on diversity and inclusion Lucy St. Louis recently became the first Black performer to play the role when she reopened the London production of Phantom as Christine in July.

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