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Raoul spills the beans…  
Sean MacLaughlin, who plays Raoul in the US touring production of Phantom, talks karaoke, stage fright and bad boys and girls...
Sean MacLaughlin, The Phantom of the Opera US Tour 2009

Can you tell us a little about your career to date and how you came to be appearing in Phantom?
I started singing and acting at the age of 4 doing community theatre out in Ft. Lee, Virginia. It was a whole family affair. My father, brother and I would do all of the shows and Mom would help with the costumes and rehearsing at home (playing the piano). I performed throughout college doing mostly television and film until finally I jumped back into musical theatre in college as Claude in Hair.

After college,  I spent about 6 months in Richmond, VA and about 2-3 years performing regionally in the D.C. area. I was lucky enough to work at great theatres like the Kennedy Center, Ford’s and especially Signature Theatre, learning a lot from the incredibly talented actors, actresses, and directors, until I finally landed my first off-Broadway show Requiem for William.  Shortly thereafter, I finally achieved the dream on Broadway in 2004 with Bombay Dreams.  My second show was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Woman in White, followed by Elton John’s Lestat.

Shortly after Lestat had closed, I had an audition for the National Tour of The Phantom of the Opera. When the offer was made to join the tour, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. This show shaped my love for singing and my appreciation for musical theatre.

When did you first see the show?  
I saw the show when I was 14 at the Kennedy Center in DC. Seeing Phantom was one of the greatest moments of my teenage life.

What is your favourite part of the show?
“The Point of No Return” to the very last note of the show. The music takes off like a freight train and doesn’t end. The trio between Phantom, Christine and Raoul is breathtaking.

Does Christine make the right decision?
I would like to think that Christine made the right decision. I know that we all go through phases in our life where the Bad Boy or Bad Girl is quite fascinating, but in this case, Raoul is the better option… first off… he doesn’t live in a sewer. Second, Raoul has money, a 401 K and “all of your white horses.”  I think she’ll be fine with Raoul… unless the money runs out…(ominous chord).

Are there any other roles in the show, aside from yours, that you would like to play? 
I would like to try the Phantom one day.  I love performing Raoul. Raoul is the role I have always wanted to perform, but I would love to give the Phantom a shot.

Would you like to perform in another Phantom production?  Where?

It has always been my dream to perform this show, especially this role.  I have to say though, it would be an honor to perform this on Broadway and London.

How do you prepare for an audition?
I try and get out every last nerve that I can by doing something other than thinking about the audition. I try and listen to some music to get me in fighting mode… kind of like “Eye of the Tiger” in Rocky.  Yeah, everyone has their different things, and mine is music… Rap, Rock, Musical Theatre… anything that will get me into the mood for the audition… it depends on the audition.  For this audition, I played 3 of my favorite songs on Guitar Hero, got my blood pumping and went into the audition with a theme song in my head, rather than my nerves.

How did you research your role?

Let’s just say I have imagined how to play this role since I saw it.  The impetus and what not have been lingering in my brain for years, but research on the period and the place and time came from a lot of time on the internet… it really does help.

What’s the perfect scenario for learning your lines?

Lots of space to walk around, a sofa, a large television playing cartoons on mute, and the script.

How do you overcome stage fright?
I have to feel over prepared to overcome stage fright… BUT in most cases I have found that I have to just do the first show and it’s gone.

What’s the most memorable thing that has happened to you on stage in Phantom
It actually happened the other day.  There was a mishap with the Noose the other day and it failed to make an appearance in the Final Lair.  Instead of the Phantom Lassoing me around the neck, he grabbed me by the shoulders and threw me against the Portcullis… in which I had to make the choice of being stuck magnetically to the portcullis the WHOLE SCENE.   It was the best isometric work out ever.  The beauty of live theatre!

What do you think is the secret of the show’s phenomenal success?
The marriage of Lord Webber’s music, Hal Prince’s direction, Gillian Lynne’s choreography, and the immense design of Maria Bjornson made this show what it is.  This show was such an amazing spectacle when it began, and still is, because that creative team gave life and magic to this score. The secret for longevity however, is the constant upkeep and love that production supervisor Peter von Mayrhauser, musical supervisors David Caddick and Kristen Blodgette, and production dance supervisor Denny Berry, put into every company that performs.  That creative team keeps it new and fresh.  They make the actors feel like they are performing the show for the first time.

What do you feel about the Phantom’s story being continued in Love Never Dies?
I am really eager to see what the story brings.  The first time I saw Phantom, I remember wondering what happened to the Phantom and why did he leave that mask behind… isn’t he going to stick out in public with half a face?  It will be interesting to see the take on the future of the characters in Phantom and to hear Webber’s new music.

What will be your lasting memory of your time spent performing in Phantom?
I have to say the family that I have made through this show will be my first and everlasting memory.  I think the relationships created through this show and throughout the country will last me my lifetime.

Who – living or dead – would you most like to meet?

Sean Connery

Have you met anyone who has made you particularly starstruck?
I don’t normally get star struck, BUT… When we played Los Angeles, a bunch of us would go out to sing Karaoke 3 nights a week.  One night, Seth MacFarlane (creator of Family Guy) was there and I had the pleasure of meeting him and watching him sing “Minnie the Moocher.” Of all the people I have met and worked with… he is the one that I have to say is my hero.  I was definitely star struck for a brief moment.

How would you spend your perfect day off?
Sleep in, go to eat at some sort of all-you-can-eat buffet, spend time with my family and dogs, play video games for a few hours with my brothers, then go to a movie.

What’s your ultimate role?
At this point in my life there is a 4-way tie… Cannibal King in Side Show, Bobby in Company, Jamie in The Last 5 Years, and Gordo in A New Brain.

How would you describe Phantom to one of the few people in the world who haven’t yet seen it?
Set in 1800’s France, at the Paris Opera House, There is a mysterious masked man who becomes enamoured with a girl who is just as taken with him. This young girl meets an old childhood friend, falls in love with him and the masked man goes into a jealous rage… carnage ensues. There’s romance, great music and a spectacle that will astound you….  Sorry, I had to put that.

For ticket information, visit the official Phantom website.

Posted on: 16th November 2009

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