Singer Franc D’Ambrosio held the title of the world’s longest-running Phantom for more than a decade, thanks to his more than 2,200 performances in “Phantom of the Opera,” leading Andrew Lloyd Webber to dub him the “Iron Man of the Mask.” happened. .”
D’Ambrosio will perform his one-man show, “Back to Broadway,” at the Lyric Theater in Blue Island on Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m.
In addition to his long-running leading role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award-winning musical “The Phantom of the Opera,” D’Ambrosio is also known for playing the role of Anthony Corleone in “The Godfather Part III.” She performed the Academy Award-winning theme song “Speak Softly Love” in both the film and the original soundtrack.
She lived and worked with Pavarotti in Italy, won a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 71st Cannes Film Festival, and performed with Andrea Bocelli at his private estate in Italy in 2022.
He was knighted by the Italian president in 2020 (his official title is Cavaliere dell’ Ordine della Stella d’Italia), and the vocal academy he founded in Lucca, Italy, brings 25 opera students from the United States to train every summer.
He’s currently on tour with a show he created called “Four Ghosts in Concert,” starring himself and three other men who play the role. A PBS special will be filmed in March and air this summer, he said.
“Even though we all sing the same role, we have very different interpretations of Phantom and have very different voices,” he said.
Lyric Theater audiences will encounter her songs and stories when she takes the stage.
“I’ll tell you what it’s not; it’s not a park or a tree bark,” he said. “I’m not the one who comes up with the piano and says, ‘I want to sing for you in my next song, blah blah blah. “This is a one-man Broadway show written, directed and produced by a team, and there is a story that runs through the entire show.”
Audiences will hear “Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Misérables,” “Oklahoma,” “West Side Story” and “Hamilton”; As well as songs from Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and Carole King.
“The audience will also spend a lot of time laughing,” he said. “It’s a very entertaining show. As soon as the show starts, we hit the road and have a good evening.
The show’s writers asked him all about his life and career, from growing up in the Bronx, the seventh generation of Italian bakers, to his move from the bakery to Broadway to his return to “The Godfather III” and his return to Broadway. “Sweeney Todd” and beyond.
“I have a lot of fun with myself, I have a lot of fun with my Italian-American heritage in the best sense,” he said. “What it was like to grow up in a big Italian family and sing music all the time. I say I make sure people in my neighborhood know more about the Corleones than they do about the Kardashians. “There’s a lot of that kind of humor.”
Even though he grew up in the family bakery and was about to take over the business, he knew it wasn’t the right path for him.
“I had a desire to become an actor and after that I realized I could sing,” he said. “I realized I could sing when I was 16. “I knew if I could sing, I would have more options to be on stage.”
He attended college for a few years, but his first professional acting opportunity in New York—combined with severe dyslexia—kept him from finishing.
“I’m very open about it. I’m severely dyslexic,” he said. “I’m in the second half of a third-grade reading level. I’m not a victim; I’ve used that to my advantage. It’s helped me have a very good memory. It’s helped me be very creative.”
She is a disability advocate and visits schools during October, which is dyslexia awareness month, to speak to and inspire children with similar learning differences.
“I tell them my reading level is lower than yours, I don’t have any of your resources, but I still do pretty well,” he said. “I told them that if I could do it when they didn’t even know the word dyslexia, you can too because you have all the resources and there’s no stigma to talk about it anymore.”
Since director Francis Ford Coppola insisted that the actor also be able to sing, talent scouts began searching internationally and twice nationally to cast him as Anthony Corleone.
“I think this is the only role in which I can beat Tom Cruise,” he joked.
He was 27 years old at the time.
“I was on Broadway; “I knew what to do,” he said. “But there are different subtleties and acting techniques that movies require. When I was on that set, it was literally like I had a master’s degree in film acting.”
He said “The Godfather” is a part of cinema history, while “The Phantom of the Opera” is a part of theater history.
“I am so lucky to contribute to these iconic shows,” he said.
He said he never tires of playing the role of the Phantom, even after more than 2,000 performances.
“I always loved singing this music. “I always loved my actors and always had great respect for my audience because I knew that many of them were there for the first time,” he said.
“What I was tired of was living the lifestyle it took to perform eight shows in six days for almost seven years. “In life, actions follow intentions, and my intention was always to put on an opening night performance every night, and I did whatever I had to do to do that.”
Blue Island audiences will hear a medley of “Phantom” songs; including the iconic “Music of the Night.”
“I’m doing all the songs Phantom can sing without a soprano to sing with,” he said.
“They’ll enjoy it because once it starts it fades away. Fun, funny, self-deprecating in the best way, great songs; My pianist is incredible. “He plays like he has 15 fingers on each hand,” he said. “Of course I sing the ‘The Godfather’ theme. In both English and Sicilian, as I did in the movie. It’s just a fun, fun evening.”
Franc D’Ambrosio – Return to Broadway
When: 19:30 17 February
Where: Lyric Theatre, 12952 Western Ave., Blue Island
Information: 708-972-0700; lyrictheater.com
Annie Alleman is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.