James Van Treuren returns as Gerard Carriere in PHANTOM!
I was born in Paterson, New Jersey and grew up in the neighboring town of Hawthorne. My twin brother and I were always interested in the theater and although our parents knew nothing about show business at all they were always very supportive.
During high school and college we would travel to New York and I was able to see some of the great Broadway Musicals of the day including, "Fiddler on the Roof," "Hello Dolly" (starring Ethel Merman), “Promises, Promises”, and of course my first Sondheim musicals the original casts of "Company" and "Follies." Experiencing these amazing shows at a young age surely helped solidify my love of musical theatre. On a personal note, I actually saw my life’s partner Peter (40 years and counting) in that production of “Fiddler” on Broadway, even though we didn’t meet until years later.
In this production, I’m playing Gerard Carriere for the second time. I have a long history of WBT’s productions of “Phantom” since I have been in all four productions dating back to 1992. Westchester Broadway has been like a second home to me. I’ve appeared in 14 productions starting with “Annie” in 1983 at An Evening Dinner Theatre. Some other WBT shows include, “Funny Girl”, “Jekyll and Hyde”, “South Pacific”, “Kiss Me Kate” and the list goes on. I’m extremely grateful for the years of work, and the friendships I have made here.
Getting back to talking about this show, I hesitate to compare the two most popular versions of “Phantom” since they are so different from each other. I am much more familiar with the Yeston/Kopit version so I can say what makes this show so entertaining and exciting is its beautiful score and libretto that is so emotionally complex and compelling. My character is (hopefully) a great surprise for the audience, especially in Act II, which makes him very interesting to play. His storyline ultimately is as tragic and moving as the Phantom’s.
In my career, I’ve been fortunate to have appeared on Broadway, Off-Broadway and many Regional Theatres. I’ve played many of my “dream roles” including, Don Quixote, in “Man of La Mancha', Emile de Becque in “South Pacific', Georges in “La Cage Aux Folles”, and Captain Hook in “Peter Pan”. In other words, I’ve been around for a while but I’m not ready to hang up the towel yet. I love to work and I’m so lucky to be able to do what I love.
When I’m not on the stage we love to travel. We just got back from a fabulous European cruise this past summer and we’re looking forward to a Caribbean cruise this December when we are on our hiatus from “Phantom”!
As Carriere with Matthew Billman as Erik.