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Ok. Many of my posts here in blog land position me as a crazy John the Baptist type. Foaming at the mouth, driven mad by the injustices of racism, shaking my clenched fists at the sky. Basically it’s the truth. Most days I wake up and read the latest Donald Sterling, Ann Coulter statement, and I feel like this…
However this is not one of those posts. I am happy. Norm Lewis is going to play the title role in Phantom of the Opera. His voice is like butter and cream. It’s about time the masked man is played by a person of color on Broadway. Robert Guillaume played the role in Los Angeles, but Norm is the first black man to play the title role on the Great White Way .
So this is an achievement. I am happy about this. Really happy.
This level happy
There is a fly in the ointment however. Don’t look at me, I wanted to skip down the yellow brick road to diversity heaven…then Cameron Mackintosh had to throw shade at Lewis in the New York Times…
“While Mr. Lewis has immense charm and great heart, the part of the Phantom requires real steel, and that’s not something Norm usually has to play…The Phantom has been locked away in his dark cell for years, and you can’t do a George Clooney on that.”
Really? Norm just played Porgy the infamous disabled beggar and he played Javert, the obsessed torn lawman who commits suicide…
Exactly how much more “real steel” can Mackintosh ask for? Maybe it’s a marketing ploy to set the audiences expectations low, so that Norm can overwhelm when he surpasses the low bar? Just seems ridiculous to undercut a Tony nominated actor before he plays a role. I guess a black actor is not allowed to have matinee idol looks AND be able to act? I suppose if he wasnt attractive, he would not have gotten the Phantom role to begin with. It is routinely filled by attractive men, which is always curious since he is wearing a mask and the role is about the voice.
But whatever. I am still excited, and Mackintosh will eat his words surely.
Maybe it is just me, but these roles aren’t just whistlin’ dixie. There is real emotional heft to these parts. Two iconic roles that require complete focus and concentration and the kind of digging deep, that the Phantom calls for. Quite frankly, Porgy and Javert are far more down and dirty than the opera obsessed lunatic living under the stairs can ever be.