The Music of The Night

As a musical theater performer, Michael Gillis has captivated audiences from some of the most prestigious stages in the United States and Europe.

This month, musical theater enthusiasts can witness his character engage in a love triangle romance during the national touring production of “The Phantom of the Opera” at Toledo’s Stranahan Theater.

After starring in regional productions of shows like “West Side Story,” “Pirates of Penzance” and touring Europe as Jesus in “Jesus Christ Super Star,” Gillis landed the role of Raoul in this production of “The Phantom of the Opera.”

As an actor who typically switches roles every three months, Gillis is excited to have a steadier role, one he plans to keep for at least a year.

But to Gillis, it isn’t the job security that attracts him most to the role – it’s the chance to have a lead role in the most successful musical production in history.

The show, which will celebrate its 19th anniversary this month, is the longest-running show in history, surpassing “Cats'” record last January. Phantom of the Opera has also earned more box office revenue than some of the hottest films this century – including “Titanic” and “Star Wars.”

To Gillis, the show’s success is due to the wide variety of art forms that are incorporated into the show, including ballet and pyrotechnics.

“It’s the best merger of all of the styles of art we have in this country,” he said.

But Gillis said the show wouldn’t be as successful if it weren’t for the musical score written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, who received a lifetime achievement award from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts earlier last month, along with Dolly Parton and Stephen Spielberg.

“[Webber’s] impact on musical theater is huge,” Gillis said.

Gillis is proud to perform in Lloyd’s show eight times a week when he’s touring.

Even though he spends countless hours a week performing, he somehow finds time to tour each city he travels to – another perk that comes with the job.

“I get to see the country and get paid for it,” he said.

During his stay in Toledo, he’s visited local dining favorite Tony Packo’s and The Toledo Museum of Art.

Gillis will be performing along with the rest of the cast until Jan. 28.

Gillis said most weekends have been selling out, but there are more tickets available for weeknight shows.

Tickets are still available through Ticketmaster. Ticket prices range from $27 to $67.