Three faces behind 'Phantom' mask

How does an actor who plays the title role in "The Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway resemble an astronaut?

They're both members of a rather exclusive group. Not many people have done what they've done. A little more than a dozen actors have starred on Broadway as the mad and tragic genius in Andrew Lloyd Webber's long-running musical.

A trio of them is coming Sunday to Wells Fargo Center for "Three Phantoms in Concert," featuring songs from the show, as part of the Santa Rosa Symphony Pops Series.

"It is a singular kind of a role," said Mark Jacoby, who starred in "Phantom" on Broadway in the early 1990s. "But there's not an alumni association that I know of."

Onstage in Santa Rosa, Jacoby will be joined by Gary Mauer and Ted Keegan, who each have played the role for long stintson Broadway and on national tour.

All three spoke by phone from their homes in New York and New Jersey about their coming concert here. They also have performed in the "Three Phantoms in Concert" show before, in rotation with other former Phantoms.

The concert format is built on a mock rivalry between the three actors, each vying for the chance to sing the show's most famous song, "Music of the Night."

"We play on the fact that we have all played the Phantom," Mauer said. "We joke around. There's a running gag based on who gets to sing the big 'Phantom of the Opera' number."

The face behind the Phantom's mask might not seem to matter from the back row, but each actor hopes to make the role his own.

For each actor coming into the role, Broadway producer and director Hal Prince allows some latitude and freedom, Keegan said.

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