Phantom of the Opera is one of Broadway’s most popular and beloved pieces of musical theater, even though the subject matter is not necessarily the most upbeat. but who doesn’t love a story of redemption? The Phantom is a master at his craft, a master composer and singer creating some of the most beautiful pieces of music while nurturing a young angelic voice.
This role is currently being masterfully portrayed by Chris Mann whom, after season 2 of NBC’s The Voice, has become a household name to many music loving fans.
Late last November I had the opportunity to talk to Chris Mann in a quick over the phone interview amidst his busy schedule for The Phantom of the Opera, which is currently touring through North America. In the interview we were able to cover a wide range of topics from his early musical career while growing up in Kansas, his musical influences, breaking out into the music scene, his high’s and lows with Sony records, working on The Phantom and his current album.
In high school Chris Mann was first introduced to singing in choirs and was encouraged to pursue singing by his choir teacher as well as seeing a performance of Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat. However, his ultimate dream was to be a recording actor. To prepare for his future, he took roles in plays such as Grease in which he played Danny and Joseph in Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat.
Taking the plunge
Chris studied opera at Vanderbilt in Nashville and moved to New York after college where he worked waiting tables while trying to get in the door. Finally, a chance opened up and Chris was offered a record label by Sony Records. Unfortunately around the time his album was being recorded Sony went through some reshuffling where many of the executives where laid off and his dreams of having a record where lost in the shuffle.
Having been so close, with the record being fully recorded and promoting it then being dropped from the label, Chris had to stop, take a moment end regroup to continue on his dream.
“It wasn’t the end of the world so I thought, well, lets keep going. So I chatted with people around me about what I could do next and that’s how I ended up doing Glee. That’s how I started doing film and TV in L.A. which was a really good part of my life for a couple of years until I started doing The Voice.”
Auditioning and being selected for The Voice
After working as a background vocalist for Tv for a while Chris decided it was his time to step back into what he knew best, what defined him and take a shot at getting on NBC’s The Voice which was only on it’s second season. Deciding to go with his gut and showcase himself, Chris Mann did his blind audition in Italian singing “Because We Believe” by Andrea Bocelli which turned out to be a great idea as he ended up being coveted by Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green.
Chris chose to work with Christina because “she was the one trying to keep me on track, staying in my genre and not trying to be too Pop. Some of the best moments on the show ended up being because of her.”
Even though Chris came in 4th place on the popular reality show, his star was on the rise as he secured a recording contract with Republic Records where he eventually recorded his debut album, Roads. This came along with doing some PBS specials, signing for President Obama and tour the country with his music.
The album was well received as it reached the #1 spot on the Heat Seekers Charts and debuted #6 on iTunes behind Adele. Much of his success is attributed to fans he’s had since his early Sony days, to fans from The Voice and fans he has now garnered from his role in Phantom.
Becoming the angel of music
Fast forward to 2014 when Chris takes things one step further and throws his hat in the ring for a role in The Phantom of the Opera. After meeting with his agent he decided to look into auditioning for Phantom and went for the role of Raul.
“They stopped me in the middle of the audition and they said, ‘You know what, you’re really the Phantom. Can you sing “Music of the Night”?’ So I stood at the piano and read it over the pianists shoulders and it went really well A few days later I ended up being called back to New York City for Phantom callbacks. So I had a really beautiful experience working with the production staff and our director for an hour in New York and ended up getting the part.”
Chris is currently fulfilling his role as the Phantom and is joined on tour by his wife, Laura, who is part of the cast which has allowed them to see America one theater at a time and visiting places they never though to see before.
Teaming up with Pledge Music and his fans
Now that he is focused on recording his second album he decided to make the fans part of the process. “Knowing how things get done with major labels” he wanted to make a record on his own terms quicker and more cost effectively so he teamed up with Pledge Music where he has seen the flood of support from the fans.
“I was really blown away. I was 20% funded on the first day. The way this works it makes me more connected to the record and process because I’m in charge of the production and I’m in charge of the graphic design and where I see the art going.”
“It is a way more personal way for me to do this than having it be more corporate. It makes me very excited and proud of what I am creating.”
This album is allowing Chris to work with writers like Justin Tranter who has written songs for Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber and Fall Out Boy. Fans will also be excited to know some previously shelved songs will make it to the album like “City on Fire,” “Be Good to Me” and “Lover.” Get ready for his new sounds too which he describes as a mix of him and Florence and the Machine. The album will also feature some ballads and the iconic “Music of the Night.”
Make a Pledge to see some exclusive content from the making of Chris’ next album at Pledge Music and be sure to check him out when Phantom of the Opera stops at your city!
Photographs courtesy of Chris Mann and The Phantom of the Opera Production.