Rhys Whitfield is currently playing Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre, In London’s West End.
Rhys recently took some time out to answer some questions about his career, Raoul, and The Phantom of the Opera.
Q: Can we have some background on your career?
Rhys: I graduated in 2015 and have since worked in the West End, on tour and internationally in a variety of roles in theatre predominantly.
Q: Can you tell us about your time at Guildford School of Acting?
Rhys: 3 years of singing, dancing, acting, making friends and making silly decisions.
Q: Did you have any particular career aspirations during your time there?
Rhys: I remember wanting to play Leo Frank in Parade, and Miss Trunchbull in Matilda. Honestly, I still want to play those roles. Or maybe I just want to be Bertie Carvel. I also wanted to play Freddie in My Fair Lady – which I’ve since done.
Q: Pre-Phantom of the Opera – do you have a favourite role?
Rhys: Elvis in Million Dollar Quartet – the role, the show, the cast, the team. All phenomenal.
Q: You have played the role of Raoul on tour and now at Her Majesty’s Theatre. What first attracted you to be a part of the production?
Rhys: An iconic role in an even more iconic show, it really wasn’t a hard sell for me.
Q: Is there a prescriptive way in which Raoul has to be portrayed or are you able to add your own nuances?
Rhys: The creative team have been really good about letting me feel like I had free rein with this character throughout rehearsals and performances, and so I like to think that I’ve brought something of my own creation to this role. Having said that, the show is written a certain way, and certain moments just work the way they always have. The show’s been getting it right for 36 years – I’m not going to argue with that.
Q: For you, can you tell us about Raoul and his ‘story’?
Rhys: Raoul is an aristocratic, rich, unabashed young man who has just become patron to the Opera Populaire. Throughout the show, we see him fall in love with Christine, and gradually become a more caring, less bullish partner to her. As his attempts to ignore, dismiss, and then thwart the Phantom’s schemes fail, he comes to realization that he could potentially lose it all.
Q: Do you have a favourite scene or scenes?
Rhys: I really love the auction scene which opens the show – it’s strange, confusing and mysterious. I also have a soft spot for the Rooftop scene.
Q: And, how about a favourite song? (or two)
Rhys: All I Ask Of You is an obvious one and for good reason, I also like the argument between Raoul and Christine in Masquerade, and of course Final Lair.
Q: What has helped to give The Phantom of the Opera its longevity?
Rhys: I think it is unashamedly melodramatic, and people want to be swept up in that fantasy. The idea of the ostracized, tortured genius who falls prey to falling in love was so obviously destined to become an iconic one within the public’s psyche, it was inevitable it would run as long as it has.
Q: Why should everyone get along to see the show?
Rhys: Glorious music, stunning set and costume design, explosions, romance, comedy, heartbreak – if you’ve already seen it, you’ll come again; if you haven’t seen it, come see what the fuss is about.
Rhys trained at Guildford School of Acting, graduating with a first class honours degree.
Theatre: Freddy Eynsford-Hill in My Fair Lady (Teatro Massimo, Palermo/Sicily); Summer and Smoke (Duke of York’s Theatre); Cover Zack Mayo & Young Recruit in An Officer and a Gentleman (UK Tour); Elvis in Million Dollar Quartet (UK & India Tour); Cover Peter in Jesus Christ Superstar (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre 2016 and 2017); James in The Commitments (UK Tour) and Close to You (Criterion Theatre).
Television: Hero in the recent Lynx Commercial.
Workshops: Maxie in Becoming Nancy.
Rhys is delighted to be playing Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera and would like to thank his family and friends for their love and support.
The Phantom of the Opera
Her Majesty’s Theatre