A Winnipegger's Broadway light is set to shine a little brighter.
The New York production of The Phantom of the Opera
announced that Grant Park grad Samantha Hill will step up as principal Christine Daaé when the current performer, Sierra Boggess, exits the show on March 4.
It's a leap in responsibilities for the 25-year-old soprano, who's been performing the role twice weekly as the alternate since the fall. And she's already begun training for the challenge of playing the spectre-stalked opera star six times a week.
"I kind of feel like I was in semi-retirement because I would just go on twice a week and then chill out in New York. It's not like I felt I wasn't part of the team because I was the alternate, but now I feel I'll be getting the full experience. Now I'm really the role."
Samantha Hill smiles for the cameras (courtesy Samantha Hill)
Hill is taking up the lead at a momentous time for a production still buzzing from recent 25th anniversary celebrations.
"I feel honoured to be a part of Phantom at this point in its history. The fact that I get to take over after these big celebrations is exciting. I came at a good time to be a part of it all."
Familiar to Winnipeg audiences for her work at Rainbow Stage, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and Winnipeg Studio Theatre, Hill says her promotion has been warmly embraced by a cast she only joined in October.
"They have been nothing but supportive throughout this entire process. You never know -- I was coming from Canada and I was replacing someone and maybe they weren't going to be positively responsive, but it's been incredible. They kind of welcome you with open arms," Hill says.
Since arriving on the Great White Way, Hill has been experiencing a roller coaster of "unreal" moments, including her first bow before a Broadway audience in November. A memory that stands out is sitting across the table from Phantom's original director and 21 Tony Award winner Hal Prince.
"I sat there like a big geek and took notes on everything he was talking about, it was truly fascinating. At one point he made a joke about an actor not being the best actor in the world and turned to me and asked if I was perhaps the best actor in the world. I boldly answered, 'Why yes Hal, actually I am.' He laughed and at the end of the meeting said he knew I'd make a fine Christine because I answered him so strongly without any hesitation," she says.
"I guess now I have to work on being the best actor in the world."