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Tony Winner

Tony Winner

With the distance of more than a decade - and a couple hundred new musicals - since my last visit, I found myself with a new appreciation for this beloved show's gothic theatricality

Charles Isherwood, The New York Times

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THE FRIDAY SIX: Q&As with Your Favorite Broadway Stars- THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA's Jeremy Hays

Welcome to THE FRIDAY SIX: Q&As with your favorite Broadway stars. Want to know what hooked them to a career in the theater? Their dream roles? Their Broadway crushes? Read on!

In this week's edition, we caught up with Jeremy Hays, who is starring as 'Raoul' in The Phantom of the Opera- currently playing at the Majestic Theatre.

What is the first Broadway show you ever saw?

Into The Woods. I was lucky to see Sondheim's masterpiece right out of the gate. Truly shaped what I think musical theater ought to be.

What is your most unique pre-show ritual?

Not sure if it's unique but I have to have music playing in my dressing room. Everyone on my floor thinks I'm insane because it switches from German Lieder to hardcore hip-hop. Terence (my dresser) is not fond of most of my music choices.

What is your most memorable "the show must go on" moment?

The most frightening, hilarious, scary, euphoric experience I've ever had on stage was when I was playing Enjolras on the road with Les Miz. It was during Act II on the barricade, when it looks like our revolutionary friends are all alone to fight the good fight. It's a somber moment yet Enjolras is charged with propping up the resolve of his brethren and keeping the flame of freedom lit in an inspiring sung speech. It's starts out "Coufeyrac you take the watch..." At which point Coufeyrac stands at attention. Cole Burden (yes, I'm calling out names) was playing Coufeyrac. He shoots up, trips, falls forward, slams his head on the barricade and damn near knocks himself out. It was the funniest thing any of us had ever seen in our lives. I know this because everyone on stage did a spit take and grabbed their mouths in unison while bouncing their shoulders in muffled laughter. I, too, am paralyzed with laughter. Problem is I'm in the middle of an epic speech 15 feet up in the air facing downstage center with 1700 audience and 25 red-laugh-crying faces staring at me. I took that speech up about 3 octaves. It wasn't really a choice it was just what my hemorrhaging diaphragm allowed. If you've ever seen Les Miz (spoiler alert: everyone dies) there is no scenario in which one of the dramatic leads can get away with the chuckles. I got scared, hot and was desperately trying to think of dead puppies or anything that could bring me back to the scene. It didn't work. The speech ends with "Marius, rest." I forgot his name, almost called him Justin, had a mini stroke and then sat down. The show went on but, I was never the same. (Cole recovered just fine.)

What is the one role you want to play before you die?

Well, it's a toss up between Sweeney Todd and John Wilkes Booth. Kurt Vonnegut talks about writing and how a good story never tells you how you should feel. Sondheim is a good story teller by this definition and never paints our feelings about these characters into a corner. It gives an actor a lot of freedom.

Who is your Broadway crush?

Well, obviously, from my previous answers it's Sondheim. He has elevated musical theater to theater with music but somehow maintains opera-like reverence for the score and vocal performance. His work is truly the perfect union of our medium. I would be honored to perform his work one day.

Where can people find you online?, Twitter + Instagram: @jlandonhays, and, of course, Facebook.

Article reprinted with permission from

What You Say

205 reviews, average rating: (4.4 Stars)

Mike: “The Best Show On Earth”

This is the best broadway you will ever see in your life...was into the sho... more

Nicole: “Absolutely Wonderful!”

I am 35, visited NY for the first time and being a fan of the 1943 version ... more

Danielle: “INSANE”

The Phantom of the Opera was probably one of the most AMAZING shows I've ev... more

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