Monday, October 3, 2022

Emily Kuachu Made Ghost on Broadway

NEW YORK (AP) – Rising star of the scene, Emily Kuachu, came close to quitting musical theater during a pandemic closure, fearing for the future. She insisted on this and now went down in Broadway history.

The soprano made his Broadway debut late last month as Christina in The Phantom of the Opera. become the first black woman in this role in the 33-year history of the show in New York.

“I was pushing myself so hard that that day I thought, ‘You know what? I’m just going to forget about it and live my best life there, ”she says. “That night was the most fun for me in a long time.”

Shining Kuachu when the curtain is called On October 27, she practically jumped back onto the stage as the audience and her colleagues on the set applauded and hooted, holding their hands in the sky like a marathon runner taking off the finishing tape.

“I think in New York, on Broadway, at this time around the world, Emily’s acting has a lot more resonance,” says Seth Sklar-Hein, the show’s production manager and executive producer, who helped her choose the role.

Kuachu grew up outside Chicago in Palatine, Illinois. She began performing in public theater at age 9, once getting the role of a farm girl in Oklahoma!

“At first I started doing theater because I was very shy and we just moved to this city, Palatine. My mom wanted to get me out of my shell. And I did it and I liked it, ”she says.

She graduated from the University of Michigan Musical Theater Program in 2019 and played a gig at Oklahoma! on Broadway in a musical circus in Sacramento, California; and the Indiana Christmas show. She made her off-Broadway debut shortly before the 2020 pandemic with the ensemble of The Unknown Soldier.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all living rooms have been suspended for 18 months. The closure was especially difficult for young music stars like Kuachou, who did not have the connections or savings of the veterans of the scene. “It was really difficult and I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” she says.

Kuachu considered going to business school or getting a yoga instructor certificate. “I just didn’t know when I would be able to perform again and make money from it. So I was definitely looking at other options. “

She had auditioned for The Phantom of the Opera before – for the 2019 world tour, right before the pandemic – but this time it was her time. In May, she auditioned, called back in the summer, and in August found out that she had received an alternative role for Christina.

Sklar-Hein says the pandemic and calls for racial justice have given producers and creators, including composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and producer Cameron McIntosh, a chance to turn calls for diversity and inclusion into action. One way was to broaden Christina’s definition.

Backed by Tara Rubin’s Casting, Ghost posted a casting announcement on Instagram and other social media platforms to host a virtual open competition for Christine. Of the 4,000 videos they sent in, they cut it down to Kuachu.

She shares the role with Megan Picherno and takes the stage three times a week in Broadway’s longest running musical. She follows West End lead actress Lucy St. Louis, who became the first black actor to play the role when the show reopened in London this summer.

“One of the things we set out to do in both productions was to deliberately, deliberately expand our approach to the casting process,” says Sklar-Hein. “It goes without saying that the past year – from a civic perspective, a political perspective, an emotional perspective – has had a tremendous impact on Broadway as an online industry returning.”

When she entered the stage, Kuachou completed a full circle. The Phantom of the Opera was the first Broadway show she ever saw, a prize on a school trip to New York City. Now the role belongs to her.

“Singing like Christina sings was natural for me. I think it goes well with my voice, I am very pleased to sing. It feels natural and easy, ”she says.

Based on the novel by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom tells the story of an ugly composer who wanders the Paris Opera and falls madly in love with the innocent young soprano Christine. Lloyd Webber’s lush songs include “Masquerade”, “Angel of Music”, “All I Ask of You” and “Music of the Night.”

Kuachu follows in the footsteps of respected Christines such as Sarah Brightman, Emmy Rossum and Sierra Boggess. But for Kuachu it is important that she does not imitate anyone: “I really wanted to be Emily in the role of Christina.”

“It’s really liberating when I’m filming a historical play where I don’t have to puff up my air, raise my voice and speak like a young, worried girl. I can sound like me. ”

Christina Kuachu is the last of the three leading roles on Broadway’s Ghost to break the color barrier. In 2014, Norm Lewis became the first African American to slip under the famous mask, and two years later, Jordan Donica did it as Raoul.

“I’m sorry it took us so long,” says Sklar-Hein. “For now, I just accept that we can do it and look forward to continuing to deliberately expand on how and who people see on stage in our building.”

From the moment of her historic step, Kuachu’s Instagram account has been full of messages from young people, which say that she inspired them.

“I love seeing these messages because it makes me feel like even when I’m very nervous about the show, I’m doing something for a higher purpose.”


Mark Kennedy is in

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