Scoring the highly-competitive and sought after role of “Christine Daae” in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera can be a dream come true for many actresses.
But American actress Meghan Picerno struck that lottery twice- she played both the younger and older versions of the leading lady in The Phantom of the Opera and its sequel Love Never Dies which is set 10 years later from its predecessor.
The 30-year-old actress, who is still awestruck about the opportunity, told The UrbanWire: “When I hear the organ (in the opening of the show), I suddenly feel like I’m not me. The makeup, costume and wig go on and when I look at the mirror and I don’t see me anymore.
“It’s like a switch. It’s the most incredible, freeing yet bizarre experience.”
Based on Gaston Leroux’s novel Le Fantôme de L’Opéra, The Phantom of the Opera follows the twisted relationship between a disfigured musical genius “Phantom” and young soprano “Christine Daae” whom he obsesses over and attempts to lure her from her suitor “Raoul”.
First starring in Love Never Dies for the 2017 US premiere, Picerno now travels back in time to play the younger version of her character in the 2019 The Phantom of the Opera World Tour.
Knowing the drastic events that occur to her character in the sequel, has it changed her portrayal of the young “Christine”?
Trying her best to keep tight-lipped about the spoilers in the sequel, Picerno chuckled: “I know where she ends up in Love Never Dies and I know there are seeds that were always there inside of her that blossomed later in life… Secretly, I know they are living within her so she must have the strength (to accomplish greater things).
“(In The Phantom of the Opera), we see the beginnings of Christine but it’s also challenging for me to know someone’s future but having to forget it momentarily.”
But that’s not the only challenge of the show. She has to be in tip-top condition to live up to the expectations of the famed role, previously played by big names like British singer and actress Sarah Brightman and American actress Emmy Rossum.
Picerno said: “You must give 100 per cent more every single night to do Christine justice. To wear her skin is something special and comes with a mirage of challenges- vocally, physically, spiritually, emotionally.
“To also do (Andrew Llyod Webber’s) music justice, I have to be in top vocal health. I must take care of my body. My body is the instrument… and the vessel for his music. I must be in nearly perfect health. It’s very olympian.”
Joining her are South African actor Jonathan Roxmouth who plays “Phantom” and British-American Matt Leisy who plays “Raoul”.
Despite the musical premiering over 30 years ago, Assistant Director Rainer Fried shared that its universal and emotional appeal is what keeps it going strong, saying: “I want Singaporean audiences to have the highly emotional theatrical experience which has moved people all over the world.”
Picerno added: “I would love (audiences) to take away the story of love and what it actually is as well as to come with an open heart and mind.”
The Phantom of The Opera is playing at the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands from April 24 to June 8.