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Norm Lewis Set To Be Broadway's First African-American Lead in "The Phantom of the Opera"

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Last seen on Broadway as Porgy in the 2012 Tony Award-winning revival of "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess," actor Norm Lewis is on his way back to the Main Stem, but this time, he's making history. NY1's Frank DiLella filed the following report.

It's a role that was created in London and then on Broadway by Michael Crawford: the masked creature of the Paris Opera House.

Through the years, a total of 13 actors have played the title character in "The Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway, but now, the time has come for New York theater veteran Norm Lewis to take on the Music of the Night.

"I'm overwhelmed. I mean, the excitement of doing a dream job?" Lewis says. "It's amazing."

When asked about crafting his version of the Phantom, Lewis says he's going to call on his friends.

"When I came to New York, I saw Howard McGillin, and then, I've seen Brent Barrett play it, and I've seen Hugh Panaro, my brother, play this role and all of them," he says. "I'm going to use everything that I've seen them do and try to incorporate that it into my show."

His friends aside, Lewis says he's going to pay homage to one actor in particular with his performance.

"I stand on the shoulders of Robert Guillaume, who was the very first African-American to play the role in Los Angeles," he says.

No stranger to the bright lights of Broadway, Lewis has almost a dozen credits to his name, including "Porgy," Javert in "Les Miserables" and King Triton in "The Little Mermaid."

Actress Sierra Boggess, who played his daughter Ariel in "The Little Mermaid" and is no stranger to Phantom herself, joins Norm as his leading lady, Christine.

"The phantom is kind of a father figure to Christine, so it's going to be kind of an interesting dynamic there," he says.

While Lewis makes history as the first African-American actor to play the Phantom on Broadway, when asked about colorblind casting for other roles in the show, Andrew Lloyd Webber says the possibilities are endless.

"Definitely, but of course, what it does for the Phantom, I think it will give the character a sort of richness as well," Webber says.

Lewis will take over the role of the Phantom on Broadway starting on May 12. For more information, go to www.phantombroadway.com.

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