Feature Image: A still from Sean Thompson’s favorite number in the musical, “Devil Take the Hindmost” with Gardar Thor Cortes as The Phantom and Thompson as “Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny”. Photo: Joan Marcus.
Philadelphia native and Temple alumni, Sean Thompson, stars as Raoul in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies. This stand-alone sequel to Phantom of the Opera is coming to the Kimmel Center’s Academy of Music from October 3rd to the 7th.
Love Never Dies finds Christine Daaé (along with husband Raoul and their son) in America for her debut at Phantasma, a new attraction at Coney Island. However, she’s unaware that The Phantom arranged her appearance…
Thompson spoke to us about growing up in Philly, his time at Temple, and his other theatre roles. Read on for his favorite Philly spots and why he thinks you should come see Love Never Dies. Tickets are available now at the Kimmel Center’s website.
Q: You’re from Philly! What neighborhood did you grow up in up and where are you living now?
A: I grew up in Mayfair in Northeast Philly. My most recent apartment was in Spruce Hill/University City. Right now, I have a storage unit on the Upper West Side in New York City and live completely on the road. Heigh ho! The glamorous life!
Q: Tell me about your time at Temple University. Did you perform in any productions there (or elsewhere in Philly)? What did you enjoy studying the most?
A: I loved Temple! It shaped who I am not only as a performer and theater artist, but as a person. I worked on a Temple production each semester I was there, in shows ranging from the classical Spanish drama Fuente Ovejuna and Shakespeare’s Pericles, Prince of Tyre, to musicals like Ragtime and comedies like The Importance of Being Earnest. In Philly, I’ve worked at the Walnut Street, the Media, the Wilma, the Arden, Bristol Riverside, and Mauckingbird, to name a few!
Q: We know your character in Love Never Dies, Raoul, is quite different from how the audience sees him in Phantom of the Opera. Without giving away too much, what is Raoul’s biggest change between the stories? How has he remained the same?
A: He is the same guy, but ten years of life have battered him away from the knight in shining armor he once was in Phantom. There are dings in his armor now. A troubled marriage and the lack of a relationship with his son have left Raoul a penniless gambler who heavily relies on whiskey. Of course, dings in armor are much more interesting to an actor and understanding this pained version of the hero has been an exciting challenge on Love Never Dies.
Q: Do you see yourself in Raoul at all? How do you relate to this character?
A: Raoul, ultimately, tries his best and I like to think that I do, too. He is capable of taking a good look at himself, objectively, and that’s something I at least hope I am able to do. And, of course, I, like Raoul, enjoy a good whiskey neat.
Q: What’s your favorite song from Love Never Dies and why?
A: “Devil Take the Hindmost” is a blast of a duet between Raoul and the Phantom. For the first time, audiences can see these two go head-to-head in the pursuit of Christine’s sole devotion. It’s a really well-written song, both lyrically and musically, that is just so much fun for an actor to sink his teeth into.
Q: Though this show is a sequel to Phantom, people don’t need to see Phantom in order to enjoy it. Why do you think everyone in Philadelphia should come check it out while it’s at the Kimmel Center?
A: Love Never Dies is like no other show audiences can see right now, on Broadway or otherwise. The designs are truly spectacular, the score – written by the premiere musical theatre composer of our time – is provocative and opulent, and the talent – the people I get to work with every night and what special gifts they offer – is off the charts. In a time of factory-made jukebox musicals, Love Never Dies stands apart as an original thrill of a show, unlike any other!
Q: Favorite show currently on Broadway?
A: I really love The Play That Goes Wrong; it may have been the hardest I’ve laughed at a play in a very long time. And I am a forever phan of The Phantom of the Opera.
Q: As a Philly resident, what are your favorite Philly spots? Any hidden gems you think our readers should know about? Favorite restaurant (and what should we order!)?
A: Always and forever El Vez; get a pitcher of the blood orange margarita. I used to live above Manny Brown’s on South Street and will be swiftly going back there as soon as I’m in town, probably to order a ‘Dirty Ho,’ their framboise/Hoegaarden cocktail. I’m taking the company to Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary; maybe we’ll hit up Tavern on Camac afterward!
Q: What’s next for you after Love Never Dies?
A: I’d love to be able to say, but mum’s the word until contracts are signed. Stay tuned on social media @oneseanthompson!