Behind the mask: The Phantom of the Opera cast and crew

Behind the mask: The Phantom of the Opera cast and crew

By: Abby Smith


Musicals are one of the most beautiful forms of art because they have the power to transform you from one place to another. They bring out real and rare emotions, and tell their story by making you feel like you’re a part of it. For a few hours, you’re able to step out of your own shoes and into someone else's. However, this can only happen when everything feels real: the costumes, the set, and the acting.

Phantom of the Opera at the Detroit Opera House
A behind the scenes look at the Detroit Opera House

The Phantom of the Opera is a perfect example of the above. It brings the novel, Le Fantome de L'Opera by Gaston Leroux, to life and portrays the story of a masked figure who lives in a Paris opera house. The man despises the people who occupy his house until he hears the voice of a young lady named Christine. He ends up falling in love with her and uses his schemes to help her be heard.
The Phantom is the longest-running musical in Broadway’s history. After the 25th Anniversary, the producer Cameron Mackintosh decided to incorporate some of today’s new technology into the show; it now has better-developed lighting, updated scenic design, and additional pyrotechnics. However, the cherished music remains the same.
This spectacular production of the Phantom of the Opera has a new chandelier, which was designed by Howard Eaton- the designer of the Olympics rings for the London ceremonies. Each strand has 632 beads, which makes for a total of over 6000. Oh, and the chandelier weighs one TON!

Phantom of the Opera chandelier, Detroit
Working on the chandelier - cast and crew have 2 1/2 days to set up

There are over 1200 costumes pieces used during the Phantom of the Opera and over 120 wigs travel with the show. A few pieces in this production are actually from the original, which makes them over 25 years old. Also, most designs are incorporated by Maria Bjornson, who was the original designer. Fun fact: one of the costumes weighs over 40 pounds!

Phantom of the Opera costumes, Detroit
Inside look at the costumes. The second one weighs over 40 pounds!
I had the pleasure of being able to interview Derrick Davis (the Phantom), Katie Travis (Christine Daae), and Steve Czarnecki (swing + understudy of 9!). They were incredibly nice and exceedingly humble! They’ve learned a lot throughout their journeys and I’m excited to share some of their wisdom with you.

Behind the mask: The Phantom of the Opera cast and crew
Actor Derrick Davis, who plays the Phantom

Derrick Davis (from Long Island, NY)
How difficult was it when you first started acting?
“It was very difficult. Anything that you start new will be difficult in the beginning. The more that you stick with it, the more it becomes normal. And then you just push it to the next level and you continue to grow that way. I feel like if anything is too easy, you’re not trying hard enough. You need to push yourself a little bit harder and startup again. I don’t think it was any more difficult for me than it was for anybody else.”

Katie Travis (from Bay City, MI)
Are there any books or quotes that have really inspired you?
And Then You Act is a great acting book, but I also love the Four Agreements and I love the Prophet by Kahlil Gibran... I think that everyone should read Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. Also, poems by Charles Bukowski and Mary Oliver… I’m a big reader!”

Behind the mask: The Phantom of the Opera cast and crew
Actor Steve Czarnecki who is a swing and understudy, with Abby Smith

Steve Czarnecki
(from Rochester, MI)
What kind of training did you have prior to Broadway vs. what you do now on a daily basis?
“I have a four-year degree from Otterbein University, which is just outside of Columbus Ohio. It’s a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Musical Theatre. From there, I moved to New York and it’s sometimes just self-motivation, working on your craft on your own… sometimes it’s taking classes and so forth. And now we’re on the road, I’m surrounded by amazing artists who help me everyday continue to keep up my level of work… with our music directors, and our fellow castmates and so forth.“


  • 75 local stagehands are hired in every market to load the production into the theatre
  • Over 200 speakers are used in the show
  • Over 85 moving lights are in the design
  • The main scenic wall weighs 10 tons


To see when a show is coming near you, visit

(Note: the Phantom of the Opera is here in Detroit until SUNDAY, JANUARY 22ND - most shows are sold out, but some tickets are up for resale on Ticketmaster currently.)

Here’s the rest of their information:
Instagram @PhantomTour

Behind the mask: The Phantom of the Opera cast and crew
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I hope this interested and inspired you as much as it did me! As you can see, there’s lots of unseen work that the audience never sees, including the actors and all of the behind-the-scenes crew.

Was there something new that you learned from this article? Have you ever seen the Phantom?  If not, what’s one of your favorite musicals and why?

Special thanks to Liz for allowing me this experience of interviewing and guest blogging!

After graduating high school in 2016, Abby has been taking a gap year to travel and blog! She enjoys writing about student advice, traveling, and faith. You can check out her blog here:

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