While most kids were still playing in the sandbox, Katie Travis, who is currently playing Christine Daaé in the North American tour of The Phantom of the Opera, already figured out her dream.
“I was 4, and my family took a trip to Toronto [from Michigan]. We saw the show there and I fell in love with it. I said, ‘That’s what I want to do with my life.’”
And indeed, that’s what she did (though there were detours, of course, and many, many auditions). Now, after two and a half years on the road with Phantom, Travis has grown into one of the most iconic roles in musical theater, originated by Sarah Brightman on London’s West End 30 years ago.
“There’s something for everyone in the show. There’s the fighting, there’s the romance, there’s the fire” — Katie Travis
“Sometimes I just have to take a step back and remember what it is I get to do every night, and what it is that I sing every night,” Travis, who’s had almost two decades of musical training, says. “The vocal challenges are incredible. [Near the beginning, there is] ‘Think of Me,’ which is the highest in range. [Close to] the end, ‘Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again’ comes, and it’s probably the most emotionally complex part of the show. You have to reserve the energy to be able to do that [after] almost two and a half hours.”
As for why the musical’s story, which is based on French writer Gaston Leroux’s 1910 Le Phantôme de l’Opéra novel, endures, it comes down to that most primal need we have as human beings. “This guy is struggling and just wants to feel loved,” Travis says.
“There’s something for everyone in the show,” she adds. “There’s the fighting, there’s the romance, there’s the fire. There’s the incredible score, there are beautiful costumes and really awesome, vibrant sets.”
And that chandelier, of course, which is indisputably one of the most famous props ever to drop on a stage. It’s gotten some upgrades since its debut. “The pyrotechnics are pretty incredible. We’re able to use these kinds of technologies that we didn’t have 30 years ago,” Travis says.
See for yourself when The Phantom of the Opera makes a stop at The Smith Center.
The Phantom of the Opera
May 31–June 11, times vary, $29–$127, The Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall, thesmithcenter.com