Broadway star Sierra Boggess on 'The Phantom of the Opera' and her Cadogan Hall concerts

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

“Every time that I visit Christine Daaé, I feel sort of at home,” reflects Sierra Boggess. It’s little surprise that Boggess is so comfortable with The Phantom of the Opera’s lead character. Throughout her musical career, she’s played Christine Daaé in many cities: Las Vegas, New York, and in London for originating the role in the Phantom sequel Love Never Dies.

But Boggess isn’t a one-trick pony. She’s tackled all types of roles: Disney princess Ariel in The Little Mermaid, headmistress Rosalie Mullins in School of Rock, and combative soprano Sharon Graham in Terrence McNally's Master Class.

The Olivier-nominated actress will rise to any challenge, none more so than her latest — when speaking to Boggess, she was also in the middle of training for the New York City marathon. Listening to podcasts on her runs, she’s had something of an epiphany about her future career.

“As I get older, there's more and more expectation of me because people know who I am. I love listening to brave people who have way more expectations placed on them… I'm inspired from listening to them,” shares Boggess.

And now a London audience are set to be inspired by Boggess as she sings in two concerts at Cadogan Hall this winter. Ahead of the concerts, we spoke to the Broadway actress about her lifelong affinity to The Phantom of the Opera and Christine Daaé, her musical inspirations, and her future dream roles.

Sierra Boggess is at Cadogan Hall.

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What was the first Broadway show that you saw?

The first show I saw on Broadway was Chicago. I was a sophomore in high school, and saw Chicago, Titanic, The Lion King and Rent with my high school class. I grew up in Denver, so the first Broadway musical I saw that was on tour was Sunset Boulevard. That was the first huge show that I saw and it was unbelievable.

Sierra Boggess The Phantom of the Opera - 750 - LT

You're heavily associated with the role of Christine. What is it like to experience playing one character for so long?

For some reason that I don't know why, Christine comes so naturally to me. There is something about that character — I don't know if it's past life, or what it is. But I really seem to understand and empathise with her story and her journey: I just get the love relationships with both of those men. I can tap into her quite easily.

If someone called you to play Christine tonight, do you think you would be able to?

Yes! There's little bits of Phantom that go out of your mind, but they could call on me at any time and I could easily slot in there. But that’s also not specific to me. People come in all the time because it's a show where once you know it, you really know it.

You must have been pretty shocked when you found out Phantom was closing on Broadway!

It's devastating. It's hard to think of living in a world where Phantom isn't playing at the Majestic Theatre. When that goes, it's gonna be weird seeing another marquee at the Majestic that's not the Phantom. It's sad but I suppose everything has to come to an end. We just assume it's always going to be there. But of course it's a living and breathing thing and nothing can last forever. I haven't quite processed that the show that we all love so so much isn't going to be there.

Sierra Boggess Ariel - 750 - LT

Was there a particular moment like when you realised "This is it – I've done the thing I wanted to do?"

Yes, I've had that so many times. I'll never forget my first preview of The Little Mermaid on Broadway. That was my Broadway debut. I remember thinking "This is it, no one can take this away from you, it's happened." You're on Broadway. You know, even if it closed tonight. You did it. I remember hugging my director in the middle of the stage after the curtain came down.

I felt like that before I even made my Broadway debut. When I was on tour with Les Miserables and I had just got cast to be in the ensemble and understudy Cosette, I was watching the girl who I was taking over from on the original barricade. In the wings, you can climb on it and sit and watch and I remember sitting on it like “Holy shit, I'm sitting on the barricade”.

Then when I did The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall, I don't think I've ever been that emotionally and spiritually exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. It was just like everything was left out on that stage.

What would your dream role be right now?

I really don't know because I have this weird thing. When a role comes up, if I get cast or offered something, then that suddenly becomes the dream. So I'm always ready for something but I don't know what. I guess I don't manifest roles specifically, but I always like to talk about being prepared.

My dream is for some of the shows that I'm involved in to get a deserved life. Some of the revivals and some of the new stuff that I'm involved in – my dreams are for those to be actualised. I don't want to dream of something else yet because these ones that I'm still hoping will have a life, so I want those to manifest first.

Which artists inspire your career?

Well, anyone who knows me knows Barbra Streisand is the first on that list. She is so seemingly fearless and brave in being ruthlessly herself. I don't like to get pigeonholed into something. I hope that when people hear my voice that it sounds like me, and I'm not sound trying to sound like anyone else. And she sounds like her. You know you're listening to Barbra Streisand without a doubt.

Then I'm gonna take a left turn — Jim Carrey, I love him so much. Not only his physical comedy, but his bravery and fearlessness. He seems tricky and complicated and fabulous, all wrapped up into one thing. I would love to know what it's like to be on the set with him and just working and trying to keep a straight face.

What can audiences expect from your upcoming concerts?

I’m definitely singing Love Never Dies and songs from The Phantom of the Opera — the things that people expect to hear me singing. And then it's Christmas time, so I'll sing Christmas songs too. It’'ll be a Broadway and West End concert, with songs that we know and love and musical theatre – with also some holiday flair.

Book Sierra Boggess tickets on London Theatre.

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Originally published on

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