5 Questions from Over the Pond: Ben Crawford & Josh Piterman
Broadway's Phantom and the West End's Phantom go mask-to-mask in this special Halloween edition of "5 Questions from Over the Pond"...
Firstly, a Happy Halloween to all our readers and all you Broadway fanatics out there from everyone here at the New York Theatre Guide! And whilst Beetlejuice continues to rule the Netherworld, Elphaba continues to defy gravity in Wicked, and Lord Voldemort continues to chill spines in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, there is one theatrical role so connected to the dark side that it has outlasted them all. Of course, we're referring to The Phantom - the crown jewel of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical canon. Meticulously directed by the late great Harold Prince, The Phantom of the Opera burst onto the Broadway scene in January 1988, going on to win a total of seven Tony Awards (including 'Best Musical') that year, and the production continues its historic run at the Majestic Theatre today.
Since it's Halloween, we've decided to devote a special edition of "5 Questions from Over the Pond" to the longest-running show in Broadway history, with our own Angels of Music, Ben Crawford and Josh Piterman!
The role of The Phantom marks the sixth Broadway credit for Ben Crawford, having previously appeared in On the Twentieth Century, Les Misérables, Big Fish (as Don Price), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (as Mr. Salt) and Shrek The Musical (in the titular role). The Tucson native graduated from The University of Arizona with a BFA in Music Theatre and has never looked back, now serenading New York audiences with "The Music of the Night" eight times a week!
Ben's West End counterpart is Josh Piterman, who made a name for himself in the Australian theatre scene with acclaimed performances as Bustopher Jones, Gus & Growltiger in Cats, as Tony in West Side Story, as Jamie in The Last Five Years, as Edward in Blood Brothers, and as Gerry Goffin in Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, which has just finished its almost six-year run here on Broadway. He's also known as a former member of the international pop opera group, The Ten Tenors and he released his self-titled debut solo album in 2018. Now, he's taken residence at Her Majesty's Theatre for London's original production of The Phantom of the Opera.
So, in the spirit of Halloween, we've connected Ben and Josh and given these transatlantic Phantoms the opportunity to ask each other five questions, encouraging them to let their fantasies unwind..
1) Josh: What does your pre-show ritual involve?
Ben: My ideal pre-show warm-up is getting to the theater early, chatting with my dresser Andrew (he's the best), stretching, warming up a bit, and trying to squeeze some TV or video game time in there before makeup. After makeup, I go bug Kaley or Eryn or Meghan (our Christines) before their first entrance and then I stretch or warm up a bit more before we get dressed.
2) Josh: What’s your favorite moment of the show, either to perform or to watch?
Ben: I really love the final scene of the show; everything is stripped away, everyone is letting their true emotions out onstage after being pent up in the Victorian era for the evening. All the manners are pushed aside and it's very visceral – and also very redeeming – to end the show in such a "no holds barred" kind of way.
3) Josh: Do you have a favorite costume to wear on stage?
Ben: The classic Phantom garb. You just can't beat it. It's a "pinch me" moment every time I get that last check in the mirror.
4) Josh: Speaking of costumes, The Phantom’s costumes can be pretty Halloween-esque, especially the “Red Death”! Did you just end up going as yourself for Halloween last year for a bit of a change?
Ben: Haha! Funny you should say that as I’m sure you’ll be getting the same questions this year! Luckily, last year Halloween was a day off and we got to take our daughter around to Trick-or-Treat. She was an incredibly adorable ladybug.
5) Josh: Do you have a favorite Halloween “Trick-or-Treat” story from childhood?
Ben: Less of a story and more of a theme: There was like three Halloweens in a row where I went as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. I could not get enough of those green-shelled heroes. Then I went as something else the next year, but promptly went back to a Ninja Turtle the year after that, so the Turtles are my own personal Halloween Hall of Fame. TURTLE POWER!!!
Check out Ben Crawford's 5 questions for Josh Piterman on our London Theatre Guide sister site here!
The Phantom of the Opera Tickets are available now.