Local actors return to Chicago for the penultimate stop of 'Phantom' tour
Local audiences have one last chance to capture "The Phantom of the Opera" at Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre -- at least in its current traveling form.
Andrew Lloyd Webber's global blockbuster musical returns for the third time in director Laurence Connor's 2012 touring version from Dec. 18 to Jan. 5. Then, his "Phantom" moves on to Toronto, where it closes in February.
That's according to two local actors who star in supporting roles. Susan Moniz of Des Plaines plays strict ballet mistress Madame Giry. She somehow knows secrets to the murderous Phantom (Derrick Davis), who obsessively stalks rising soprano star Christine Daaé (Emma Grimsley).
Meanwhile, Chicago actor Rob Lindley plays Monsieur André opposite David Benoit as Monsieur Firmin, the new co-managers of the "Opera Populaire" (the fictional stand-in for the 350-year-old Opéra National de Paris). Lindley describes Firmin as the money man, while André is more of an artistic director.
"Phantom" is Lindley's first tour, and he's been with it for almost two years. For someone used to beginning productions from scratch, Lindley had to learn fast on his feet.
"It's definitely like you're walking into a Swiss clock, and you're trying to find out exactly where you as a gear fits," said Lindley about navigating Paul Brown's complex set designs and the lush costumes of the late designer Maria Björnson.
"But within that, the creative team welcomes your own individual artistic expression," Lindley said. "It was unlike anything I've experienced before."
"Phantom" is Moniz's second national tour following her acclaimed 16-month touring run as Helen Bechdel in "Fun Home" that began in November 2016. Moniz joined up with "Phantom" in November 2018, and remembers being "pushed with love if you're in the wrong spot" to get up to speed with the rest of the cast and crew.
"I love (Madame Giry) because she is just this unknown character," Moniz said. "My goal was to find her center among all that craziness that is going on around her in the opera house. Just to physicalize and vocalize that was the biggest challenge to me."
Moniz and Lindley already have Chicago-area theater gigs lined up once the "Phantom" tour ends. Moniz couldn't publicly say where she'll be next, though Lindley has been announced as the director for Joanna Murray-Smith's "Songs for Nobodies" at Northlight Theatre in Skokie in March.
But in the meantime, both Moniz and Lindley are delighted to be back home working through the holidays. Lindley plans to act as a Chicago tour guide to the rest of the "Phantom" cast and crew, while Moniz is eager to be home with her family and animals.
Moniz and Lindley are also looking forward to taking public transit to work.
"There's no way I want to deal with Chicago traffic," Moniz said with a laugh.
• • •
"The Phantom of the Opera"
Location: Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago, (800) 775-2000 or broadwayinchicago.com
Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Friday (also Wednesday, Dec. 18, and Monday, Dec. 30), 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Sunday (also Tuesday, Dec. 31; no matinee Jan. 2 and no evening show Jan. 5); Dec. 18 to Jan. 5