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'Phantom of the Opera' on Broadway casts black actor in title role

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"The Phantom of the Opera" has been running on Broadway for more than 25 years. This week, the musical announced a first: a black actor has been cast in the title role in the New York production.

Norm Lewis will join the company of "Phantom" at the Majestic Theatre starting May 12. He will be the first black actor to take the lead role in the Broadway run of the popular Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which first opened in 1988.

Lewis won't be the first black actor to play the role of the Phantom.

When the musical ran in Los Angeles, Robert Guillaume succeeded Michael Crawford in 1990 at the Ahmanson Theatre. The casting of Guillaume caused a small stir at the time, though it had more to do with his sitcom background than the color of his skin.

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The role of the Phantom was originated by Crawford and has since been played by numerous other actors. Lewis will be joined in the cast by Sierra Boggess, who starred in the "Phantom" sequel "Love Never Dies."

Lewis most recently starred as Porgy in the recent Tony Award-winning production of "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess." He has also appeared in the Broadway casts of "Les Miserables" and Disney's "The Little Mermaid."

"Phantom" has played more than 10,000 performances in New York.

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