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The Ooh-La-La Girl

Broadway’s Patterson Is A Phantom Veteran

The Ooh-La-La Girl

Mary Michael Patterson says she’s seen Phantom of the Opera heroine Christine Daaé from both sides now. She played Christine in the long-running musical for almost two years on Broadway. And now she’s playing Christine’s erstwhile friend, Meg Giry, in the U.S. tour of Love Never Dies, the spellbinding sequel to Phantom.

“I definitely think it helps to have been in Christine’s shoes,” says Patterson, who’ll bring the “ooh-la-la-girl” to the Walt Disney Theater November 21-26. The dark Andrew Lloyd Webber musical romance is next up in the FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando™ series. Tickets are priced starting at $34.25.

Love Never Dies is set in gaudy Coney Island, New York, in 1907, about 10 years after the end of Phantom. Meg is the star of the Phantom’s burlesque attraction, appropriately called Phantasma. You didn’t think he was gone for good, did you? Love Never Dies is the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-shattering adaptation of French author Gaston Leroux’s novel about a mysterious masked musical genius and his obsessive love for a beautiful soprano.

The new musical is set in 1907 — years after the Phantom’s disappearance — amid the freak shows of New York’s Coney Island. His love, Christine Daaé, is now one of the world’s great sopranos, but is struggling in her marriage to the drinking and gambling Raoul.Christine accepts an invitation from an anonymous impresario to perform at Phantasma, a new attraction on Coney Island. With her husband and young son in tow, she journeys to the U.S. unaware that it is the Phantom who has arranged for her appearance at the popular beachside resort.

At first, Patterson’s character Meg Giry is thrilled to learn that the Phantom has lured the unsuspecting Christine to Coney Island. “There’s a lot of that innocence and percolation of girly excitement,” Patterson says. But when Meg realizes that she’ll be overshadowed by Christine’s talent, she “has to grapple with jealousy and loss.” Only she doesn’t grapple very successfully. Without giving away the ending, Meg is front and center for the show’s heart-wrenching climax.

Patterson says her Phantom experience helped her handle the vocal demands of the sequel’s complex score. And she likes the fact that Lloyd Webber’s characters — particularly Meg — are more nuanced than those typically found in musical theater. “I feel like I can use so many more of my tools,” she adds.

Phantom was one of the first shows Patterson saw as a girl, and it remains one of her all-time favorites. Like the original Phantom, the new show offers soaring melodies from Lloyd Webber, along with spectacular costumes and set designs that vividly evoke Coney Island’s gaudy carnival atmosphere.

As Patterson sees it, Love Never Dies is a sequel only in that it features familiar characters. Otherwise, it’s a new story that stands sturdily on its own. In other words, she says, don’t worry about getting lost if you didn’t see Phantom. You’ll get all the backstory you need as you get swept up by the stylistically distinct Love Never Dies.

Patterson, who grew up near Fort Worth, Texas, started dancing at age 3. And by the time she was accepted to the University of Michigan’s top-tier musical theater program, she had years of preparation in class and on stage.

“I think I was always blessed with teachers who were supportive but realistic,” she says.

Patterson’s credits include a dozen roles in regional theater and the 2011 Broadway revival of Anything Goes. She lives in New York City and is married to actor Cary Tedder, currently performing in Broadway’s A Bronx Tale: The Musical.

Love Never Dies is her first touring show, however, and that comes with all the personal and professional challenges of being in a different city — and a different theater — each week.

But Patterson says the pace occasionally eases with multi-week visits in larger cities. One advantage of touring, she notes, is that the frequent changes of venue make performers “hyper-present and hyper-aware.”

Adds Patterson: “If you can tour well, you can probably do anything well.”

Excerpt from artsLife