We caught up with our three soloists for The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and More, Morgan James, Hugh Panaro, and Debbie Gravitte. Each brings his or her own special Broadway experience to the Charlotte stage.
Have you ever been to Charlotte? If not, what are you most excited for duing your visit?
MJ: I was in Charlotte last fall with my band. I always love coming through and I'm excited to make some new fans, and eat some great food!
DG: You bet! My husband was born in Goldsboro. We have family all over the area, who will be attending the show, and we vacation every year on Ocracoke. Can't wait!
HP: I don't think the airport counts so I'm pretty sure this will be my first time performing in Charlotte! I have performed in Garner twice with my solo show. But there's nothing like singing with a Symphomy orchestra and I've already heard great things! I'm also a HUGE "foodie," so I can't wait to eat my way through Charlotte!
How many shows were you in?
HP: Wow, I don't know! I started acting professionally when I was 13 years old as Friedrich Von Trapp in The Sound of Music so I had already been in at least 13 productions before making my Broadway debut as Marius in Les Miserables. And here I am all these years later and I STILL get the same joy from performing!
DG: This is a trick question for me. Whether it's the Broadway stage, a movie set, a television set, a nightclub or a Symphony Hall, it's all performance! I have been lucky to be in 8 Broadway shows and numerous other productions.
MJ: I've been working on stage in some capacity for 20 years. I did four original companies on Broadway, and countless readings, workshops, and regional productions.
Hugh, what was it like performing in Phantom of the Opera, first as Raoul, then coming back to play Phantom years later?
HP: I loved playing both roles! I think I was cast in the right roles at the right time. Hal Prince cast me as Raoul in my early 20's and I was kind of an impetuous "puppy" with a lot of energy and confidence. I don't think I had the "weight" or life experience to play the Phantom back then. Going back to play the Phantom many years later I had a lot more life experience to draw from so that I could fully embody a more complex character Every experience we have hopefully helps us grow and allows us the opportunity to bring more of ourselves to a role.
Morgan, What was the stage show that has most influenced you and how has that shaped you as an artist?
MJ: I did a production of hair 10 years ago that really shaped me. It was one of my favorite leading roles out of town, right before I got my first Broadway show, and I think I really grew as an artist and became a true leader. I'm very grateful for my years of doing regional theater and learning how to be a leading lady out of town.
Debbie, Being that you have performed with over 175 orchestras, what is your favorite aspect of performing for Symphony audiences?
DG: Every Symphony performance is different depending on the city it takes place!