Former Scandal Actor Will Be The First Black Lead Of “Phantom”

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phantom of the operaBy Andrew Scot Bolsinger

Actor Norm Lewis has been chosen to be Broadway’s first black to star in “Phantom of the Opera,” opening May 12, with Sierra Boggess, who will take over the role of Christine Daaé.

Lewis, 50, drew tidings of congratulations from all over the world on Twitter, the Atlanta Black Star reported.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Lewis told the Associated Press. “The idea of doing something that I’ve always wanted to do and it coming to fruition is amazing,”

Lewis may be better known to fans of the NBC drama “Scandal.”  Lewis played Sen. Edison Davis in the show starring Kerry Washington.

Lewis, recognized the importance of his casting for blacks in Broadway, which is often referred to by minorities as “The Great White Way.”

“Despite strides in diversity, marked especially by last year’s Tony awards, high-profile roles for Black men on Broadway, particularly in shows that don’t feature a majority-black cast, are scarce,” The Star reports.

Lewis lists “Miss Saigon,” “Les Miserables” and “Sondheim on Sondheim” among his credits.

“These young, black men from high school and college, they come up to me saying, ‘You’re the reason I’m singing,’” Lewis told the Orlando Sentinel. ”I felt that way about Ben Vereen and Andre DeShields.”

Lewis recently starred in a new adaptation of Gershwin’s opera “Porgy and Bess,” which helped revamp a show that had been disparaged by minorities.

“Porgy and Bess” has historically faced difficulties because of the way black people were depicted. Writer Suzan-Lori Parks and musical adapter Deidre Murray’s reinterpretation helped net “Porgy and Bess” a Tony in 2012 for Best Revival of a Musical.

Andrew Scot Bolsinger won more than two dozen press awards during his journalism career. He is a freelance writer, author and operates www.criminalu.co, which is focused on prison reform. He can reached at Andrew.Bolsinger@gmail.com