After 30 years of thrilling audiences across the United States and abroad, The Phantom of The Opera is coming to Houston’s Mischer Neurosciences Broadway at the Hobby Center November 7-18th. The big difference between past productions of Phantom and this one is Cameron Mackintosh’s reinvention of the staging and scenic design. There are also some bright new stars interpreting the iconic roles we’ve come to know and love. Jordan Craig, a Houston native, is one of them. He will be returning to the city of his youth with the play as Viscount Raoul de Chagny, protaganist Christine Daaé’s childhood friend.
Critics have been giving production high marks, and Andrew Lloyd Webber said he is “really pleased that Laurence Connor’s new production of Phantom will continue to tour the U.S. playing in tandem with the Broadway production which just celebrated 30 years at the Majestic Theatre.”
We asked Jordan what it was like coming back to Houston with the Broadway troupe.
Jordan Craig: I grew up going to the Hobby Center and as a kid, and going to see touring shows there, I was a theater kid. I was like “one day I’ll be on that stage.” I just knew it – It’s been a dream of mine. I booked this amazing show and sure enough we’re going to be playing Houston. I’m freaking out a little bit.
AMFM: So you’ve never been on the Hobby stage before?
Jordan Craig: No I’ve been on the small stage I think it’s called the Zilker (there are two stages in that theater.) But the main stage in the Hobby Center? Nope, never been on it. But I remember seeing Spring Awakening there, I vividly remember seeing that tour. I just thought “this is going to happen, I just know it” and now here we are.
AMFM: And that’s an electric vibe sort of feeling isn’t it, like it’s what you were meant to do?
Jordan Craig: Absolutely
AMFM: What got you started in theater? Was it just going to shows?
Jordan Craig: This is how my parents tell it: I’ve been doing theater since I was 5 years old This is how my parents tell it: I saw some kids on TV and I told my parents “I can do that!” There’s a little theater down the road called Playhouse 1960 which is in Spring, Texas. My parents took me over there and I just started acting.
Michael in Peter Pan was my first role. I was the youngest of the Darling children. After that I did more shows and started in community theater. We have a family friend who is in the chorus of the Houston Grand Opera. She told my parents “this guy can sing a little bit, you should take him down to audition.” So I did, and I started working at Houston Grand Opera as a child. Houston Grand Opera is one of the premiere opera companies in the world, and to have a world-class musical training from a young age is what gave me the edge that I have now, as far as being able to perform at this level.
AMFM: Obviously this level is at the top, so congratulations. What are you doing that is different from the Raoul of previous iterations of The Phantom of the Opera. What do you bring to this that’s actually from yourself?
Jordan Craig: My Raoul? He laughs a lot in the show. I would really like to find moments to sort of- Not take away from anyone else’s performance, because there are a million ways to do it – but I like to find the moments when I perform that fulfill the full gamut of the emotional range.
There are moments when I’m laughing my head off. Like when I’m watching Il Muto… It’s a comedy, why wouldn’t people be laughing in the audience? I laughed at it. But then you get murderous Raul is being challenged by The Phantom. Raoul goes from joviality to being downright murderous and that’s what’s really fun. You don’t normally get to play that full range but I try to fit it in That’s where my portrayal might be perhaps be a little bit different from some others.
AMFM: Well, Phantom is portrayed as a love story and an obsession. It’s played out that way for 30 years already, and I know that the fans who are familiar with the story will be watching to see what’s different. I know that there’s a new stage visually it’s different, but I have to ask you this. I know that everybody is talking about it but I’m going to say it anyway . Has there been any discussion of the #metoo movement and the director trying taking it in a certain direction because of that? Everyone is on edge in his politically correct environment and so many are trying not to offend others. Has there been any consideration taken into effect because of that? Or is it playing out the way you think it should be played out?
Jordan Craig: Well you know, this production was designed before the #metoo movement occurred, so I would have to say it probably wasn’t considered
AMFM: I know that’s sticky question but I just had to ask because it’s current.
Jordan Craig: The show was designed before the #metoo movement came about, #metoo is not in the zeitgeist and in the show’s design. The show was designed in 2012 or 2013 and it began in 2014. I’d have to say (not that it wouldn’t have been around at this point) the movement wasn’t in existence at this point.
I try I try to steer clear of politics when talking about the show because the beautiful thing about it, is it has an appeal to everyone. In discussing politics of any kind we risk alienating half of our audience no matter what. We try to appeal to love, lust, anger and joy. Things that everybody feels, the basic human emotions no matter what your religion or where ever you are on the spectrum, the show appeals to you so we’re really proud of that. We know that in our audience there people that think very differently sitting next to each other and in a time when we can’t come together on just about anything people come together to see us. it may be the only thing in this country that people still come together for
AMFM: Yes that’s quite true.
Jordan Craig: So that’s my answer to that.
AMFM: The first medium most people are exposed to these days is film. Theater of course is the original, but it seems that most people now want to get into filmmaking, and act on the screen. What would you say to kids who want to get into doing what you do right now? What pathway would you encourage them to take?
- MORE About THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
- Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is presented by Cameron Mackintosh, The Really Useful Group, and NETworks Presentations. Directed by Laurence Connor (who co-directed the new production of Les Misérables that is back on tour across North America after a hugely successful revival on Broadway, directed the award-winning new production of Miss Saigon that played London’s West End, Broadway and begins its national tour in 2018, and also directed the stage version of the movie School of Rock now playing on Broadway, in London’s West End, and on North American Tour), with choreography by Scott Ambler, set design by Paul Brown, Tony Award®-winning original costume design by Maria Björnson, lighting design by Tony Award®-winner Paule Constable, sound design by Mick Potter, and musical supervision by John Rigby. The production is overseen by Matthew Bourne and Cameron Mackintosh. THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA: music by Andrew Lloyd Webber; lyrics by Charles Hart (with additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe); book by Richard Stilgoe and Andrew Lloyd Webber; orchestrations by David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Based on the classic novel Le Fantôme de L’Opéra by Gaston Leroux, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA tells the story of a masked figure who lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, exercising a reign of terror over all who inhabit it. He falls madly in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine, and devotes himself to creating a new star by nurturing her extraordinary talents and by employing all of the devious methods at his command.
Cameron Mackintosh’s brilliant original production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA continues performances at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London and in its recording-breaking run at the Majestic Theatre on Broadway and many other cities around the world.
Jordan Craig: I developed a theory from talking to kids about this. I think the first thing and the most important thing is to realize is that there are a lot of kids, and I think I was one of them, who graduate from college and they’ve got a diploma in hand….they think “well here I am everybody, somebody come hire me.” And someone’s going to come along and say “here you go, here’s your role on Broadway now have a nice day.”
That’s not how it works. Nobody owes you or is going to give you anything and nor should they. You have to earn it. There’s a great deal of hard work that goes in to this, it’s like anything that people do – if you want to be successful, It all depends on how much work you want to put into it. So my advice to kids is find some way to differentiate yourself from the crowd. And a great way to do that Is how much harder you’re working at it than everybody else.
A lot of people get sucked into the party atmosphere, don’t! That just distracts from the actual goal of doing the work.That’s a really hard thing for young people to understand. I mean there’s a lot of shaking hands that you have to do, but the more you can stay focused on what your goal is the better.
If you can wake up every day and think” what have I done today to forward my career?” and you don’t have an answer to that, then you’re not doing enough. You should do at least one thing every day to get to your next goal.
The other thing that I like to talk to kids about this. When do you move to New York? That is a really big question. First of all it’s the second most expensive city in America, and you’re instantly a tiny fish in a large ocean. It’s very hard to get noticed.
So what I did was I went to Atlanta, Georgia. There are a million other cities you can go to: Houston, Dallas -Dallas has great theater), Austin has a great art scene. There’s amazing regional theater to be done. That’s what I did before I did this tour. And that’s what I did for a long time. I worked regionally, got my Equity card, and joined the union.
Then I moved to New York. And the cool thing is once you got your Equity card If you go to New York and you have an equity card they have to see you no matter what. They have to. If you don’t have your Equity card they don’t need to see you and many times they don’t. So my advice to kids is explore those smaller markets, get your Equity card and then move to New York. Once you have it then you have a leg up on everybody else
AMFM: That’s some good advice. Can you tell me what it’s actually like to be in a major touring company and to work with that everyday ? What are your days like?
Jordan Craig: I just got a little puppy so my days are crazy, but typically we travel all the time. You live in in a hotel. Some of us we have a per diem, and we put it together so can we stay in an Airbnb – like a house. My wife and I travel together and we live with other cast members. We cook and we go to the gym and live a normal life – there’s a lot of sightseeing. The difference is we get to go out at night and perform these awesome shows.
We’re going to be in Honolulu this coming summer, and will be there for four weeks. You take a day, you go to the zoo, things like that. We like to experience the cities that we’re in. Especially the restaurants! It’s like being on a never-ending working vacation.
AMFM: You love your job don’t you?
Jordan Craig: I do, I really do!
AMFM: People have different methods where they prepare themselves to make that transition into another character, then they go on the stage. What do you do to get ready?
Jordan Craig: I’m kind of an enigma in the sense that some people do all sorts of things to warm up. I like to go sit in my dressing room. I like a lot of different music so usually I put on a 1990s country song ’cause I’m a Texan. And that’s it! (laughs) I like to be alone in the hour before the show and listen to my music. Sometimes it’s punk rock, but mostly it’s country – some Brooks & Dunn some Garth Brooks. Even earlier stuff too! I might break out Travis Tritt.
For more information on the production and a video sneak peek, please visit www.ThePhantomOfTheOpera.com/ustour/
- BUY TICKETS - INFORMATION
- WHO: Mischer Neurosciences Broadway at the Hobby Center
WHAT: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
WHEN: November 7-18, 2018
Tue – Thurs at 7:30 pm; Thurs (Nov. 8) at 2 pm | Fri at 8 pm | Sat at 2 & 8 pm | Sun at 2 & 7:30 pm
WHERE: The Hobby Center | 800 Bagby | Houston, TX 77002
TICKETS: Start at $55 and are available by phone (713) 315-2525 or (800) 982-2787; online at www.TheHobbyCenter.org or www.BroadwayAtTheHobbyCenter.com; The Hobby Center Box Office (800 Bagby, Houston, TX 77002) and all Ticketmaster outlets. Discounts available for groups of 10 or more. For more information, please call (888) 451-5986 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Performance schedule, prices and cast are subject to change without notice. For more information, please visit www.BroadwayAtTheHobbyCenter.com.