COURTESY 'THREE PHANTOMS'
Former Phantom Craig Schulman now produces and stars as one of three Phantoms.
3 ‘Phantoms’ to sing 3 concerts in 3 days
Interesting what turns up online. Google "Three Phantoms" and the No. 1 site is a Danny Couch fan site that gushily segues into a Honolulu Star-Bulletin article about Craig Schulman, the big-voiced Broadway star who sang the title role of "The Phantom of the Opera."
Schulman (who played "Les Miserables'" Jean Valjean twice in Hawaii), plus former Phantoms Cris Groenendaal (who phantomed twice at Blaisdell Concert Hall) and Kevin Gray (never been here, but he's Chinese American, or so trumpet the promotional materials) have teamed up into the powerhouse trio known as the Three Phantoms, and they're doing three performances at the Hawaii Theatre, starting Thursday.
'The Three Phantoms'
In concert: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
Place: Hawaii Theatre, 1730 Bethel St.
Tickets: $25 to $60
Call: 528-0506 or visit hawaiitheatre.com
You can't kill the Phantom. Whether you think of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical as the most passionate, extraordinary musical creation of all time or as an excruciating screech-fest, it did become the longest-running Broadway musical of all time on Jan. 9. So much for the nine lives of "Cats."
There aren't actually three Phantoms. There have been 11 -- so far -- and all were in New York for the 7,486th performance. It's all downhill from there.
One more Broadway star in the role and there actually could be four squads of Three Phantoms roaming the world, electrifying audiences.
We caught up with Schulman in "bitterly cold" New York, where he's not only looking forward to warm weather in Honolulu, but also a warm reception from local audiences.
"I learned from my 'Les Miz' stint there that Honolulu audiences are extraordinarily appreciative of high-quality presentation," said Schulman. "It's a natural for us."
Schulman has elected to dispense with all downtime, apparently. He has also become the producer of the "Three Phantoms" shows.
"What that means," he sighed, "is that I'm responsible for everything. I've learned what the phrase 'four-walling the theater' means: filling the seats, the stage and the crew!
"For example, I found out that the Hawaii Theatre has a lovely theater organ. So let's scrap the symphonic arrangement for that section and use the organ. But that requires rewriting the arrangement.
"It's a bit of a benefit for Ballet Hawaii. So it would be great to use the dancers -- but you have to hire a choreographer."
(The concerts' finale will seat organist Don Conover on the Hawaii Theatre's 1922 Robert Morton Theatre Organ, revving up the thundering pipes for dancers from Ballet Hawaii.)
"JUST THOSE details, details, details. I'm busy writing contracts and signing my life away. I'm learning so much -- like delaying with union orchestras. In Detroit the shows end in exactly two hours! I like to dabble in the graphic arts, so I design the ads, too. If I were Cameron Mcintosh, I could hire a staff," he chuckled.
Plus singing. He's booked almost every weekend, either with the Phantoms or with his solo show, "Heroes, Monsters and Madmen."
When Groenendaal, Gray and Schulman hit Hawaii, they will, naturally, sing selections from the Lloyd Webber show, leavened with tunes from other shows the three have done, such as "Jekyll & Hyde," "Sweeney Todd" and "Miss Saigon," as well as favorites from "The Secret Garden," "Guys and Dolls" and "Company."
The repertoire list includes "Begin the Beguine," "The Sara Lee Song," "They Call the Wind Maria," "The Impossible Dream," "This Is the Moment," "American Dream" and "Bring Him Home."
Is there any one-upmanship among the Phantoms? C'mon! Three dudes swinging their big voices around?
"Well, I can say we get into some Phantom schtick," said Schulman. "The competetiveness is fun, actually.
"Playing the Phantom is actually the ultimate credit. No matter what you play or where you play it, 'Music of the Night' gets the greatest response from an audience. I had no idea it would be such a monster. What I mostly thought when I was introduced to it was, uh-oh, this is going to be hard to memorize. Lloyd Webber's songs are highly poetical but not logically sequenced.
"And they take a lot out of you. In 'Les Miz,' I was onstage almost all night as Valjean, but the 20-some minutes you're onstage as the Phantom, it completely exhausts you."