By Minnie Roh
Asian American Life
The Phantom of the Opera is the quintessential Broadway experience. No trip to New York City is complete without a visit to the Majestic Theater. The show holds the record for longest running musical, boasting an incredible 28-year run on Broadway. Yet, this beloved show continues to break new ground by casting Ali Ewoldt, a Filipino American and the first Asian American, to play the role of Christine Daae, the Phantom’s protegee, in a role that traditionally has always been filled by Caucasian actresses.
“This role is really a dream role,” said Ewoldt when she met with us prior to taking the stage as Christine, indubitably the most famous female lead role in a Broadway musical. “I grew up wanting to be her one day. I saw the show at 10 and fell in love with the character.”
It’s safe to say Ewoldt has been training for this role her entire life. She began dancing at three, taking voice lessons at 10, and she says the first song she ever learned and performed was Think of Me from the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack. She performed in musicals throughout middle school, high school and college. And It was a stroke of luck at college that gave her that lucky break that is every actresses’ dream.
“I was performing with the Yale Opera program, and they needed an extra soprano,” recalls Ewoldt. “A friend of a friend came to watch the production and she was a New York agent. She said, I think she could do musicals.”
For more on Ali Ewoldt’s rise to fame, as well as her emotional response to those who consider her a pioneer for breaking down racial barriers by landing a traditionally non-Asian role. Watch her segment here:
Want more? This month’s Asian American Life features a special report on the future of Chinatowns across the country; an in-depth look at AAPI voters and their growing influence as swing voters this election year; and a one-on-one on Mets pitcher Ron Darling: