15:06 16 November 2011
We are here in the Prince of Wales Room of the Royal Albert Hall. Sierra, you are about to appear in three special performances of Phantom of the Opera to celebrate its 25th anniversary. It doesnt get any bigger than this, does it?
No it doesnt. Its about the most extraordinary thing Ive ever done in my life to this point. Im really really thrilled that I get to do this.
Can you recall the first time you ever saw Phantom of the Opera?
My memory of Phantom the first time is actually listening to it on cassette tape in the car with my father who was obsessed with it when it first came out. I wonder how old I was. I was really young I was in elementary school when it came out.
The tour was coming through Denver, Colorado which is where I am from and my parents got to go and see it and they brought home a cassette tape of it and we listened to that thing over and over and over again. I used to sing along - not actually with Christine.
I would sing along to Music of the Night. I would try and hold out the last note as long as I possibly could. Never could do it like Michael Crawford but I tried.
So in other words you were the Phantom as a child.
Absolutely. As a child. As now! I mean the Phantom is me.
So when did you first sing any of it or go on to perform it?
Christine quickly became a dream role for me and by the time I was in high school I was singing it all the time just for fun, just because I loved it. In college thats when I tried to hit that high E that she has to sing at the end of Phantom of the Opera the song. It was like the soundtrack of my childhood. I was cast in it when I had graduated from college. This is the role that changed my career path. It was the first leading lady I got to play and I love her. I love Christine and I understand her even though Ive never been pursued by a masked man. I understand her inside and her heart. Shes a remarkable woman.
Can you put your finger on what it is that makes her tick?
Its her heart. It starts with the fact that her father was a closest friend and he died. She has never dealt with that and the Phantom is a very manipulative, very tortured soul. She responds to that when he comes to her pretending that hes her angel of music her father said, I will send you the Angel of Music when I am no longer with you.
She is only eighteen years old. Her heart responds to that and it responds to music. The music that he brings out of her its artists connecting. Whereas her relationship with Raoul makes more sense in the world; its a normal relationship. Hes promising her, I will be there with you. Lets build a life together. She cant build a life with the Phantom, but that excites her. Theres something about it that she cant walk away from. Even though hes a murderer and hes terrifying, hes grotesque, she can see something else. Thats the music of the night, thats an untouchable bond that artists have, which also connects with the other world where her father is - heaven or wherever he is. Its the music thats connecting all of those things. Shes complicated!
Could you put a figure on how many times youve played this part?
I played her in Vegas and I was there for a year. And then for eighteen months I was here in London doing the sequel Love Never Dies, where I played her again ten years later. So I played classic Christine once and then I got to do her again in Love Never Dies. So its really cool to come back and do her again as the innocent eighteen-year-old.
I wonder if you could explain the relationship between you the singer and Andrew Lloyd Webber the composer.
I have an excellent relationship with Andrew. My favourite thing that I learned about him was his sense of humour. He is so funny and we are rarely serious around each other, almost to the point of annoyance of other people around. I love it because I am not the most serious person in the world and I just love that Andrew has a great sense of humour. He writes the kind of music that people will remember forever and I have such respect for him.
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