Does Craig Schulman, known for his role as Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables,” ever shed tears when he delivers his signature tune, “Bring Him Home”?
“Never,” he said in a phone interview from his New York home. “I have a routine that goes through my head. You have to control it (the tears).”
Schulman is heading to Honolulu for a much-delayed performance when he appears with two Broadway colleagues in “The Three Phantoms,” at 7 p.m. Oct. 29 and 2 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Hawaii Theatre. It’ll be a night of Broadway tunes from a myriad of shows, including “The Phantom of the Opera.”
Schulman, who is the producer of the event, will naturally render “Bring Him On.” So he’ll have to keep up his guard, since fans and followers often drop tears due to the emotion in the song, even out of context of “Les Miz.”
Some years ago, when he did the first national tour of “Les Miz,” he thought “Bring Him Home” might bring out the waterworks.
“At that time, my dad was having cancer surgery, and I kept that memory, which keeps me in control. But when I lost a daughter, I was having emotional pain.”
His determination to maintain discipline, so he doesn’t “lose it,” has been helpful. But there have been a few instances “when my body couldn’t keep up with my mind.”
He misses “Les Miz,” specifically, and the stage, generally.
So “Phantoms” will enable him to embrace Broadway biggies that feature a panorama of familiar tunes performed by male tenor soloists, like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera.”
Schulman organized the concept back in 2000. The Hawaii Theatre edition — with support from Honolulu arts patron Carolyn Berry Wilson — will be the first resurrection of the show since the pandemic shut down theater everywhere. He has assembled the substantial talents of two buddies – Keith Buterbaugh and Gary Mauer, who, like Schulman, have donned the mask of the “Phantom” over the decades, as well as performed in other key leads in the Broadway repertoire.
Dan Riddle, musical director, will helm a six-piece group of island musicians for the evening.
Schulman, who has performed Valjean in previous Honolulu visits of “Les Miz,” earlier partnered with Cris Groenendaal, who played the phantom here, and Kevin Gray, who starred as Scar in “The Lion King” at Blaisdell Concert Hall, in the phantom trio portfolio. Groenendaal has retired from active singing and Gray died of a heart attack while shoveling snow at his New York home.
Collectively, the original Phantom buddies accrued an average of 20 years of Broadway experiences and performances in regional shows, opera and TV roles.
“When we do a set show, with a symphony or a six-piece orchestra, you have to stay with the script,” said Schulman about “Phantom.” “You can do some shtick, but you have to be consistent.”
The planned repertoire includes male-delivered hits from shows like “Miss Saigon,” “Guys and Dolls,” “ Annie Get Your Gun,” “Kiss Me Kate,” “South Pacific,” “Jesus Christ, Superstar” and “Damn Yankees.”
Tickets are $30 to $50, available at www.hawaiitheatre.com or by calling (808) 528-0506. During the pandemic, the theater box office is closed, so ticket access is via online or phone.
After Honolulu, the threesome will have two more “Phantom” bookings, in Muncy, Ind. But Schulman said he always keeps a stable of singers in tow, just in case. “You need to keep eight to ten people, as singers come and go. I had hoped to have Mark Jacoby aboard, but he is one of two Neil Diamond actors (the younger is Will Swenson), in the Broadway-bound ‘A Beautiful Noise’” which is launching in Boston next June before heading to New York later.
Of course, he’s open to do a legit Broadway biggie, should an opporutunity arise.
Otherwise, he said, “I still do voice-teaching. And I’m enjoying my grandchildren.”
But It’s been a frustrating past decade, for the whole theater industry. “The industry retired me, making a decision that I stop (doing traditional theater). And that makes me angry.” …
And that’s Show Biz. …