Broadway.com #LiveatFive with John Riddle of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA


(upbeat music) – Hello everybody, welcome to
Broadway.com’s Live at Five. It’s Monday, January
13th, I’m Beth Stevens. – I’m Paul Wontorek. – And we’re here in the
studio with Caitlin Moynihan. – Hello. – Wait, it’s my mom’s
birthday, January 13th. Happy birthday, mom. – [Women] Happy birthday mom. – Making it all about me. Who’s here today, Beth? – We also have a guest, it’s not your mom. It’s John Riddle is here, from
“The Phantom of the Opera.” – Raoul. – Raoul, we will get
to Raoul very shortly, but first, our top five. (upbeat music) – Some of our stage favorites got honored with an Oscar’s nomination this morning. – [Paul] That’s right,
it’s the Academy Awards, it’s time, it’s award season,
not our award season, not yet. – [Beth] We’ll get there. – Hollywood’s award season and this is obviously the big one. It was an amazing morning
for Cynthia Erivo. Broadway’s Cynthia Erivo. Tony winner for a color,
“The Color Purple.” A color purple. “The Color Purple.” Not any color purple. Anyway, she got two nominations. – She did. – For writing the song, “Stand Up” from the movie “Harriet” and for her leading performance. She is the one actress
of color nominated– – Correct.
– This year. What’s really interesting is if she wins she’ll be the youngest
person ever to go EGOT. – Oh wow.
– Yeah, I know. – That’s fascinating.
– It’s amazing. A lot of other Broadway favorites are up including Adam Driver, of course is up for “Marriage Story.” – Recent Tony nominee.
– He was just on Broadway. Nominated last year for “Burn This.” – “Burn This.” – Scarlett Johansson, a Tony winner for what was she in? “View From The Bridge.” – “View From The Bridge.” She was also in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” – She was double nominated which is pretty rare,
only over a dozen actors have had that happen. She was nominated for “Jojo Rabbit” and “A Marriage Story,” and what else? Kristen Lopez, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez nominated
for “Into the Unknown” from “Frozen 2,” unfortunately
“Frozen 2” was snubbed. – In other categories. – In the Animated Film category. But it’s the most successful animated film in the history of
whatever, so they’re fine. – They’re fine. – Sam Mendes who is a theater
and film director, of course was nominated for “1917” which is also up for Best Picture. Of course it won the Gold Globe last week. And he’s doing “The Lehman
Trilogy” on Broadway soon. And what else? Al Pacino, Tom Hanks.
– Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce. – Are these still theater people? Yes, they are. Because we hang onto people forever. – Saoirse Ronan, Jonathan Pryce. – We’re gonna hold on to John
Riddle’s career forever, too. – That’s right, gotcha John. – The 2020 Oscars will
be held February 9th at the Dolby Theater in LA and televised live on ABC without a host because,
because you know what? It was kinda cool last year. To not have a host. – No problem. – And if you can’t have Ricky Gervais just doing his thing, then
just don’t have a host. It’s fine. – And we got some news that this play is headed to Broadway this year. Cynthia Nixon has two Tony’s for acting and now she’s going to
direct a play on Broadway. – Are you ready to hear about it? – She’s directed off-Broadway. – She directed one play off-Broadway. This is a landmark lesbian play. And it’s called “Last
Summer at Bluefish Cove.” – What happened at the cove, Beth? – I’ll get there. But first, I’m gonna tell you
who’s producing this play. Are you ready? This is a hit list. Ready? Ellen DeGeneres.
– Cool. – Portia de Rossi, Lily Tomlin, Jane Wagner and Harriet Newman Leve. – Wow. – It’s a hit parade of lesbians. Set in 1980, the play
is set at Bluefish Cove. That’s a surprise. A lesbian beach side
haven where Lily Zalinski and her close knit group of friends take refuge each summer
to live and love freely. – God, I’ve been looking for
a lesbian beach side haven. – Right?
– I just can’t find any. – I know, I just, anyway. When a straight woman named Eva wanders unknowingly into their midst you gotta know where you’re walking, okay? She sends the Cove into a tailspin and knocks Lil off her feet. Okay, so we don’t have any casting yet but it sounds fascinating and wonderful. We don’t have dates and
we don’t have a venue but we know that Cynthia
Nixon’s directing. – This play wasn’t done
on Broadway originally? – I don’t believe so. I don’t believe it’s
ever been on Broadway. – Cool.
– But it’s a 40 year old play. There you go. – And this show just keeps getting better and better with every
casting announcement. – [Paul] You’re talking about “Assassins.” – [Caitlin] Yes. – [Paul] Which is that great John Weidman I said his name first. – You did.
– Stephen Sondheim musical. You can’t just say it’s Sondheim’s show. He had collaborators.
– Nope, that’s right. Sondheim hates that by the way. – Of course, it’s that
fantastic musical review of people who killed or
tried to kill presidents. – Correct. – And they’re doing it off-Broadway now and this is a very starry production. This is at Classic Stage Company. John Doyle’s directing it so they might be playing their
own accordions, I’m not sure. We just found out Ethan Slater AKA SpongeBob SquarePants
will join the cast. – He’s getting violent. – And he got a really great part. He’s doing the Lee Harvey
Oswald/The Balladeer track. – Wow. – It all kinda builds up to him. And he’s fantastic and he’s
joining Steven Pasquale Judy Kuhne, Will Swenson,
Brandon Uranowitz Wesley Taylor, Adam
Chanler-Berat, Tavi Gevinson and Andy G from “Tootsie.” Forgot how to say his last name. – Grotelueschen.
– Tony nominee, 2019. – Grotelueschen. – Thank you, Beth.
– You’re welcome. – I didn’t prepare.
– Andy G. – Anyway, it’s playing
April 2nd through May 17th downtown at Classic Stage Company. – This new musical has
set it’s world premiere. – [Beth] Kinda, it kinda
set it’s world premiere because we’re talking about “Vacation.” – [Paul] Broadway “Vacation.” – Broadway “Vacation,”
that’s right, the musical. We’ve talked about this before that is was coming and now we know where it’s
going to world premiere which is at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theater where many shows have started their lives but we don’t have dates or casting. – Why is that not a world premiere? Oh, okay. – It’s gonna start there. – Well, they’re doing it. – They’re doing it. – This actually hasn’t been
in development that long so it’s moving along pretty quickly. – Right. Donna Feore will direct and choreograph and it has a book, music and lyrics by David Rossmer and Steve Rosen. – We don’t know, we know
it’s about the Griswolds. Characters from the movie,
Clark and the family. I don’t think Christie
Brinkley’s gonna be in it. – Probably not. – That was a great part
in the first movie. – Probably not. – “Christmas Vacation,”
I think it’s a new take on those characters. – It’s a new stage show
drawn from the characters in the popular “Vacation” film franchise. I’m just reading the paper. – Maybe it’s like the Griswold family goes to see “Phantom of the Opera.” – That would work.
– That would work. Things happen. – [Beth] Stay tuned. – Yes, and I wanna use this moment to pat ourselves on the back for all the exciting
news that came out today. – [Paul] This is very exciting. The Broadway League, they’re
the people that run Broadway. They announced that Lauren Reid who is the chief operating officer of the John Gore organization,
which is our parent company was voted as the chair-elect of the board of the Broadway League. Pretty fancy, Lauren. – Does she have to be sworn in? Is that why?
– This means that Lauren Reid will take over the role
from Thomas Schumacher president and producer
of Disney Theatrical. That’ll happen at the end of
Schumacher’s three year term which is the end of 2020. That’s very exciting. – Mazel tov, Lauren.
– Congratulations, Lauren. And also, this is the
real back patting part Broadway.com has been voted once again the number one source
out of every press outlet for Broadway fans to find out
information about Broadway. We’ve gotten very used to this. – Oh yeah, we’re not taking
it for granted though. Don’t get too comfortable. – [Caitlin] Thank you. – Basically what happens is the Broadway League does
a survey of theater goers an independent survey. – Maybe you’ve seen the little pencils. – Yeah, I actually
filled one out this year. I chose Broadway.com so I may
have swayed the vote by one – It’s probably just you.
– By one. When I went to see
“Beetlejuice” I was like, ooh! I got one of those things! – Thank you for being transparent. – People, log on to Broadway.com to get their information on Broadway. And you know that because
you’re here right now. – That’s right.
– Thank you for coming. It’s our 20th year. – Yeah, it is our 20th year. My goodness.
– What else? – We have the first
look at “Soldiers Play.” – Cool. – We have first look at Lucy Barton, “My Name is Lucy Barton,”
starring Laura Linney. And we have John Riddle here. – Yeah, I’m getting outta here. – It’s been nice seeing you for 20 years. Caitlin, tell us more
about our guest, please. – Gladly, yes guys we got John Riddle here
with us in the studio today. He is currently in “The
Phantom of the Opera” on the Broadway which is getting ready
for it’s 32nd anniversary on the Broadway. It’s coming up at the end of the month. It’s a pretty big deal. It’s also the longest
running musical on Broadway. You guys may have previously seen John when he originated the
role of Hans in “Frozen” and he was also in “The Visit” on Broadway so he knows a thing or
two about what he’s doing. Make sure you follow him on social media @thejohnriddle, not just John Riddle. He is the John Riddle on Instagram. Follow him there, leave
all of your questions in the comments down below and everyone please welcome John and Beth. – [Beth] Thank you, Caitlin. (Caitlin cheers) – Hi Beth. – [Beth] Hi, the John Riddle. – I sort of hate that,
but John Riddle was taken so I had to add the. – [Beth] John Riddle, if
you’re out there, what’s up? Why are you doing this to us? – Can I have it? – How is it over there in the
“The Phantom of the Opera?” People often forget the
the, I just wanna say that. – Do they?
– Yeah. – I always say it with a British accent because it feels right.
– Go ahead. – The phantom of the opera. I’m in “The Phantom of the Opera.” – That’s more than a British accent. That’s a lot. – We do, what do we do in the show? It’s called something else. We don’t do British accents in the show. – [Beth] What do you do? – Mid-Atlantic, it was escaping me. – Mid-Atlantic, it’s just posh. – Yeah, it’s just sort of posh. How is it at the Majestic?
– How’s it going? – It’s legendary. It’s amazing. I absolutely love it. This was the first show I ever saw. – I knew that. Last time that you were here you told Paul Wontorek that
the first show you ever saw in Toronto, you’re from
Ohio, I’m from Ohio. We’re from Ohio. Was “The Phantom of the
Opera” and you were five. This is not really a
show for a five-year-old. It’s long, it’s scary, it’s really scary. – I didn’t think so. – Tell me about your experience. – I didn’t know anything about musicals but my dad’s a woodworker I’ve told this story a couple times now. – Forget it, don’t tell us then. – My dad was a woodworker
and he was in his shop and he heard this commercial
for “The Phantom of the Opera” and he didn’t know what it was and so for Christmas that year he said this sounds like
something we should go see and so he bought us tickets. We went up to Toronto and saw it and I sat there the whole entire time at the edge of my seat, didn’t say a word. I was wearing a tuxedo, too ’cause that was back in the day when you would dress up to the theater. And I sat there and I
turned to him after the show and I said I wanna be an actor. – [Beth] Wow. – Afterwards. I did have a little moment
my first night in the show. I was climbing up the
ladder with Madame Giry about to jump off the bridge. I was like, I’m in “The Phantom
of the Opera” on Broadway. It’s kinda cool, full circle. – Did you have a tuxedo
just for that purpose or did you just have a tuxedo. – That was in the days– – I want the important question. When I was a professional ring bearer in every wedding.
– I see, so you had one. – I had a tuxedo except I
think they were all rentals because my aunt tells this
great story where I was my uncle said, “John
that’s such a nice tuxedo “you’re wearing,” and I
said, “It’s not a tuxedo. “It’s a rental and it has
to be back on Monday.” – Don’t say that people. That ruins the effect. And now you’re in the show you saw. – So I’m in the show.
– When you were five. That inspired you to be an actor. But you didn’t go straight
into acting, right? Tell me your trajectory here. – When I was four? – Let’s go through each year. – I stared as a businessman
when I was five. No.
– Were you in school plays? – Yeah, I was. I was in school plays and my mom put me in piano
lessons when I was five and I cried for about seven years. But she made me keep doing it. I had this amazing teacher. Her name was Mrs. Drumand. I grew up near Oberlin,
Ohio so I had all these– – [Beth] Famous for the college. – Yeah, famous for the college. And she was a retired professor at Oberlin so I had this incredible place where I learned
how to be a musician. That’s kind of how it started. Then I quit everything
when I was in middle school because I played basketball and soccer and I wanted to be cool. – [Beth] Yeah, it happens. – So lame. And then in high school all that time I was gonna be an architect because in Ohio I didn’t
think that anybody nobody was an actor. I didn’t think that was a thing. – They don’t have any
actors in Ohio at all. – Because there’s no actors from Ohio. – Zero. – I was gonna be architect and up until my junior year of high school that’s what I was gonna do and I saw the national tour
of “The Light in the Piazza” and I changed my mind. – So you were in school plays though? – I was in school plays.
– What shows did you do? – I started to do the school plays. I did, my freshmen year I was devastated because I didn’t get Billy
Bigelow in “Carousel.” – [Beth] Who did? – His name was Chill Tanner. Shout out, Chill. – [Beth] I knew you’d remember. – But I did play the carnival boy and I just saw some
footage that just reemerged from the depths of who knows where. From the VHS land. And my ballet, I’m not a dancer. Of that caliber. – You don’t have to judge yourself. – Well I was. And then after that, my sophomore year I played Harold Hill in “The Music Man.” – That’s a big leading role. – My grandma said her favorite
role that she’d ever seen. Later in life it was still her favorite. – If you get a good review from grandma. – Then it’s all good.
– That’s all you need. – And then I did “The Odd Couple.” We did the “Odd Couple”
and something else. And then we did, my junior
year we did “Guys and Dolls” and I played Sky Masterson. And then we did “How to
Succeed” my senior year and I played what’s-his-name. – How to Succeed? J. Pierrepont Finch?
– Yeah, Finch. – This is like a trivia quiz.
– My claim to fame. – You did a lot. – I did a lot of plays, yeah. And I was still actually
gonna be an architect. I started, the internet I
think had just come out. So I was–
– And it was fabulous. It’s still running. – I was researching about colleges and I got my list of schools and I said if don’t get into
any of these good schools I’m gonna go be an architect. And I ended up– – [Beth] Going to Cincinnati. – Yeah. – [Beth] And the rest in history. – Yeah, the rest is history. Here I am. – You went from seeing
“Phantom” as a five-year-old to being in “Phantom.” And then you are
reignited into the theater ’cause we’re doing our Mid-Atlantic. – That’s correct. – With “The Light in the Piazza,” so you need to be in
“The Light in the Piazza” at some point, is that correct? – I think should bring that back now. – I think it’s time. It’s time. “Phantom is about to have a big birthday. – 32. Right? – Yeah, 32.
– 32. Which is older than me. – How are you celebrating? – How are we celebrating? We’re gonna do it on Broadway. – That’s a good way to do it. I thought you had a personal
thing you might be doing. – Oh no. Maybe there’ll be a cake in hair room or something that we’ll do. – Definitely put cake in the hair room. That’s a good combination. – There’s always cake in the wig room. Which now that you say that that does sound sort of strange. – It sounds disgusting, yeah. – Don’t get any of
Christine’s curls in the cake. I don’t know, there must be some plan. We’ll have to throw a party. We’ll have to throw a birthday party. – It’s a good thing you’re not thinking about this until the last minute. Now.
– I’m not in charge. – Ben Crawford is your Phantom. – Yes.
– He’s our Phantom. He’s the world’s Phantom. He’s the Broadway Phantom. He’s doing our Broadway.com
vlog right now. Face Off. He always does a. – Is that what it’s called? – Face Off.
– That’s brilliant. – Thank you, he came up with it. Or I did, one of us did. Are you enjoying the vlogging backstage? I feel like he’s doing a bit
of gotcha journalism backstage. – He’s doing a lot. My door swung open on Saturday
before the evening show and it was Ben Crawford
with the video camera. – And ski mask or some sort. Hockey mask or something. – It’s a Star Wars something. – Star Wars, that’s right. He’s trying to cover
what you shouldn’t see. The revelation, the reveal. – You’re not allowed to see the Phantom. I had to have a little
talk with Ben because– – [Beth] Took him aside. – My dresser, Terrance,
Terrance I love you but he put me on blast. It was something about my feet? On the vlog? And about having bunions. – I don’t know if it made it into the vlog but here it is right now. – I heard it did.
– You did? – Yeah.
– No, I don’t think so. – Thank god. – Terrance is constantly
being frightened by Ben. – Yes.
– So that’s fun. Look out for that. He seems like a character. There seem like there are a lot of characters backstage at “Phantom.” – There’s a lot of characters. – And a lot of people that have been there for a really long time. – Terrance I think has
been there for 13 years. He used to be the Carlotta dresser. And now he’s the Raoul dresser. And for Christmas, my
Christmas gift to Terrance was all of our names are on
the door, it’s very fancy. And they make these
very fancy vinyl plaques and I had one made for Christmas because at one point,
I don’t know who it was but somebody, I hope I’m not
getting anybody in trouble but they said, “Terrence,
whose name is on the door?” It was one of the Raouls. – [Beth] Did you say this? – Absolutely not, I would never. – [Beth] Just checking, just checking. – But I do say, Terrance
told me the story. And so every once in a while I would joke. I’ll say, “Terrence, whose
name is on the door?” – So there was a Raoul
that wasn’t in a good mood is what you’re saying.
– Apparently. – A grouchy Raoul. – We don’t know who it was. It was years and years ago. – Years and years. – I would make that joke and now for Christmas I got him a plaque so his name is now on the door. So now he says, “Whose
name is on the door, John?” – You gave him a lot of power. – I did. – I know that all of you phans, P-H-A-N-S. Which I think you’re a P-H-A-N-S, P-H-A-N. – Full “Phantom” nerd. – Are you a full “Phantom” nerd? – Yeah, I know every word. – You know every word. Give us your craziest bit of trivia and then we’re gonna take your questions because I know you have them. – My craziest bit of trivia? I don’t know if I know.
– Okay. – I just learned, I just went on the tour. My whole family came, well I had a bunch of people from my hometown, from Cleveland come to the show on Saturday night. And I took, Ben’s dresser, Andrew gives a really phan, with a
P-H, ‘tastic tour after the show and I took his tour and I learned so much. For example, the jump, spoiler. Am I allowed to talk about the jump? When I jump off the bridge
it’s 17 feet, didn’t know that. And I also didn’t know
that the things around the goblins, what are they called? The gargoyles? Around the proscenium when
the Phantom is on stage or when he does something crazy the eyes light up. Red.
– Which you don’t see from your vantage point. – No, but does the audience see that? – If they’re looking in
that direction they do. – Next time you see
“Phantom” look for the eyes. I had no idea. – Always something new, even
though it’s 32 years old. Almost, almost. Let’s take your questions. – Definitely. Jake wants to know what
was the biggest difference between going from a
role that you originated to stepping into a long
running musical like “Phantom?” – That was kind of crazy, actually. It was my first experience doing that. But I think it’s really fun because you have the
blueprint out in front of you and they say you have to walk here and walk here and walk here but then you get to
fill in all the blanks. The coloring book is already written out and then you walk in
with your box of crayons and then you color it all in. That’s how I feel about it.
– That’s a beautiful metaphor. That’s beautiful. It’s true that it’s already there and you get to make it
your own in your own way. – And when you’re a fan. – I’ve thought about this.
– You’re a “Phantom” phreak P-H.
– For a long time so you get to actually do it. – When were you first Raoul? When you were in your bedroom
listening to “Phantom” when did you first decide this is my role? – I was probably Carlotta first. And then probably Christine after that and then definitely the
Phantom all the time and then Raoul I’m Raoul now. I probably never actually played Raoul. – But you started as Carlotta. – Yeah. – That makes sense. She’s got a good costume – Yeah she does. And she has all the good songs. – [Caitlin] I love it. – Good to know. – Jenny wants to know because this is something
that you obviously thought a lot about as a kid what do you remember most about taking your first Broadway bow in “Phantom?” What do you remember from that night? – Stepping out on The Majestic stage. – I don’t know, because it was weird. I wasn’t fully, maybe
should’ve been nervous. I wasn’t really nervous. I guess I was prepared. I think it was that moment when
I was climbing up the ladder I was like, oh I’m here now. Or, and also I guess it was the auction. Because you come out in the
auction and he’s old man Raoul. I sat in my little wheelchair and that was kind of cool because I just sit there
and look at the audience throughout that whole opening scene. – Did you see any five-year-olds in tuxedos out in the audience? – Yeah, many. They were rentals though. – Full circle. Just a rental though. – I love it. Constance wants to know what is like what’s the audience energy
like when you’re on stage? – That’s a nice question. It’s different, we were talking
about “Frozen” before this we had a lot of kids in our audiences. And now there are kids at “Phantom” but it’s more of a, I think
it’s a lot of tourists that come see our show. But our audiences are
really, really wonderful. Because they, I don’t know. A lot of them haven’t seen
a show before, I think. – [Beth] It’s a good first show. – So they’re just sort of like. – [Beth] And it delivers. It’s full spectacle.
– And then there’s fire and there’s magic. They still leap to their feet every night. It’s kind of really cool. – Did a lot kids come
see you in “The Visit?” – Tons. Tons of children. – Or were you the kid in the room? – Yeah, I think I was the kid in the room. – I think we have time
for one more question. – Yes, definitely. Ariana wants to know obviously we get to see a little bit of backstage through Ben’s vlog but tell us the deets about the trio and what you guys act
like really backstage. – [John] The trio? – The trio. – Well, Ben is obviously ridiculous as you can see from the vlog. But Ben and I have known
each other for years. We did a production of “Titanic” at the Muny together 10 years ago. So we’ve been buds for years. That’s why I let him get away with talking about my non-existent bunions. – [Beth] No bunions. Just clarifying. Meghan has just joined the company and Eryn LeCroy also does
two shows a week as Christine so the trio changes a bit every week. But we always have a
moment when I’m coming down as old man Raoul and
Ben feeds us gummi bears and we have a little chat. I ask them if they’re into older men. And then we do the play. – That’s not creepy at all. John, thanks for joining us. – Thanks for having me.
– You’re a delight. – It’s always a pleasure to be here with you guys, so thanks. – If you haven’t seen
“The Phantom of the Opera” I don’t know why you’re watching. But you need to see “The
Phantom of the Opera.” you’ve had 32 years and
it’s still going strong. – 32 more. – 32 more.
– Years. – I hope so. At The Majestic Theater. Caitlin, will you take us on out, please? – Thank you guys so much
for tuning in today. We are Live at Five every single weekday here on Facebook and you can listen to us wherever you get your podcasts by searching for #liveatfive and hitting that subscribe button. Be sure to tune tomorrow,
we talk to Kingsley Leggs all about “Little Shop of Horrors.” (upbeat music)

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