By Nyesha Stone
There’s a space for Black people everywhere and Quentin Oliver Lee is proving that. As a Black man on Broadway, Lee has earned an iconic role as the Phantom, or Gerard Butler, for the play The Phantom of the Opera.
Even with his extensive history in the business, Lee didn’t think this role was a possibility for a Black man until he saw Norm Lewis—the first Black actor to star as the main role of the Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera. Once Lee realized what he could accomplish, he began practicing for the role of the Phantom.
After a very long process, Lee was cast as the Phantom in the national tour of The Phantom of the Opera, which will be coming to Milwaukee from March 6-17.
Lee is an example of what our Black youth can become. There have been instances when Lee’s performed at theaters where he’s met Black youth, who were just as shocked as he used to be. They didn’t know that there were spaces for the Black community in theater, or the arts world, but there is.
“It’s all about representation,” said Lee. “To be able to see we can do anything.”
But, no matter who’s in a play it’s about the acting. When it comes to good casting, especially for a play this intense, it’s about the attention to detail, said Lee.
“Everybody plays an important part,” he said. The cast’s job is to convey all of the mixed emotions without looking like they’re trying to convey mixed emotions, Lee said.
If an actor/actress has done their job right then the audience will have seen or understood something from someone else’s perspective, he said. That’s why it’s important for the youth, and everyone, to be exposed to the arts, he added.
“There’s a place for us,” he said to Black youth.
He continued: “There is a huge need for the arts. It takes us from just seeing our own reality. The world needs more compassionate people of color and that’s what the arts brings out, especially in the youth.”
The Phantom of the Opera is about a love triangle between the Phantom, Christine and Raoul. Although this play has been in production for over 30 years, Lee says those who come to their show will be pleasantly surprised.
“It really blows people away,” he said about their show. “It’s my job to make sure people have an incredible time.”
The national tour of The Phantom of the Opera will be playing at the Marcus Center from March 6-17, and tickets can be purchased at https://marcuscenter.org/show/phantom-opera-marcus-center-milwaukee