The Phantom of the Opera is the second longest running musical in the West End, just behind Les Miserables, and anyone who has seen the show will understand why it has so firmly captured the hearts of its ‘phans’. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece of musical theatre is a haunting tale of love and passion that has enthralled audiences at Her Majesty’s Theatre for 26 years, and is just as memorable for its sumptuous score, beautiful costumes and set designs and stunning special effects.
Many men have donned the mask to play The Phantom over the years, and the latest is the very talented Argentinian actor, Geronimo Rauch, who joined the production in September 2013. He thankfully decided to continue in the title role for another year, but he has been joined by a number of new faces in the most recent cast change, including Liam Tamne as Raoul, John Ellis as Piangi and Alicia Beck as Meg Giry. There are further changes to the show’s ensemble too, with such names as Kieran Brown and Lisa-Anne Wood now part of the new company. Brown is a performer who has previously appeared in In Profile, and this week it is the turn of the lovely Lisa-Anne Wood who is our featured ensemble member for the latest edition of In Profile.
Lisa-Anne Wood is an up-and-coming performer who is as talented as she is beautiful. She grew up in Aberdeen, Scotland, and in a move that is working out well for her and proving just as pleasing for West End audiences, moved to London at the age of seventeen to pursue a career as a professional actress,. She was accepted into Guildford School of Acting (GSA) a year later and spent three years at the prestigious performing arts school which has provided training for the likes of Daniel Boys, Dianne Pilkington, Willemijn Verkaik and Michael Ball. During her time there, she played roles in several theatre productions, including Rosie in Bye Bye Birdie, Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, Elizabeth in Robert and Elizabeth, Viola in Twelfth Night and Athena in Oresteia. She graduated from GSA in July 2011 with a BA (Hons) in Acting: Musical Theatre.
She had already appeared as discarded mistress, Claire Clairmont, in a professional production of Lord Byron’s Mistress, which was staged at the Jermyn Street Theatre in 2010, and just before her GSA training was complete she won another leading role, this time in one of the biggest hit musicals in the West End.
Wood was cast as Cosette in the award-winning Les Miserables, joining what has since been regarded as one of the strongest companies in the show’s history. She made her West End début on 23rd June 2011 in an impressive line-up which starred Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean, Matt Lucas as Thernadier and Hadley Fraser as Javert, alongside Alexia Khadime (Eponine), Katy Secombe (Madame Thernadier), Craig Mather (Marius). Also in the cast was fellow GSA alumnus Caroline Sheen (Fantine) and Liam Tamne (Enjolras), who she now reunites with in Phantom. Her first showing as Cosette was a performance with the new Les Mis cast for The Classic Brit Awards 2011 at the Royal Albert Hall, a performance I was actually in attendance for as they sang a medley of songs from the musical.
The youthful actress impressed in her first major West End role and attracted a legion of fans during her time in the show. She had several different ‘fathers’ during her stay, as Ramin Karimloo took over the role of Valjean from Alfie Boe, and David Shannon in turn from him, and left the show after a year in the company. Her first post-Les Mis appearance came in a charity concert performance of Steven Luke Walker’s Little Women at the Playhouse Theatre, in which she played youngest sister Amy opposite Nikki Davis-Jones (Jo), Sarah Lark (Beth) and Gina Beck (Meg). Also starring in Walker’s musical adaption of the classic novel were Helena Blackman (Belle Gardner), Norman Bowman (Professor Bhaer), Daniel Boys (Laurie), Shona Lindsay (Marmee) and Jon Robyns (John Brooke). She was then seen at the Union Theatre playing Precious McGuire in their production of the musical Steel Pier, and rounded off the year with a stint in panto, playing Princess Apricot in Jack and the Beanstalk at SECC Clyde Auditorium.
She has been involved in a series of theatrical projects since then, continuously adding to her list of stage credits. She has played Rebecca in original musical, My Land’s Shore, in a performance at Drill Hall, and played Mrs Anderssen in A Little Night Music in Concert at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. She also featured on a Sondheim album, recording as Johanna (Reprise) for Songs from Sweeney Todd, and took part in a workshop of The Wind in the Willows playing Portia. In addition, she has performed in numerous cabarets and concerts, including West End in Concert, Giggin4Good and the Les Miserable cast cabaret, among many more.
Most recently, she returned to SECC Clyde Auditorium to star opposite John Barrowman in Dick McWhittington, which also featured The Krankies and fellow musical theatre performer Ashleigh Gray.
She is now back in London to appear in the second of the West End’s ‘big-hitter’ musicals, The Phantom of the Opera. The new company played their first performance on 1st September 2014, which means Wood is just coming to the end of her very first week in the popular production. Her ensemble role in the show sees her perform on stage as Bride in the Mirror and Princess in Hannibal, but she also understudies the principal role of Christine Daae. I’m sure there are many fans out there eager to see the talented soprano take on the iconic role.
Lisa-Anne Wood is a very promising performer with a beautiful voice, and theatre fans should be very glad to see her back in the West end where she undoubtedly belongs.
You can follow Lisa-Anne on Twitter: @Lisaannewood
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25