As a 4-year-old, a fearful Ben Jacoby watched his father, Mark Jacoby, in the title role of “The Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway.
“I was kind of scared, hearing my dad’s voice coming out of this monster’s face,” admitted Ben Jacoby, now 27.
Following in his famous father’s footsteps, Jacoby will play Viscount Raoul of Chagny in the Broadway touring production of “The Phantom of the Opera” at the Saenger Theatre.
The 1988 Tony Award-winning Best Musical and the longest-running show in Broadway history opens Nov. 5 and runs for 15 performances through Nov. 16.
Adapted for the musical stage by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Broadway production takes its inspiration from the 1909-10 serial novel by Gaston Leroux and draws heavily from other productions of the work.
Perhaps the most familiar cinematic version of the story was Lon Chaney’s chilling portrayal of the Phantom in the 1925 silent film horror classic.
During performances he hangs around out of sight, somehow making weird things happen. A lead singer he doesn’t like loses her voice. A massive chandelier crashes down on the audience.
Accompanied by a live orchestra, “Phantom” contains such classic show tunes as “Music of the Night,” the choral piece “Masquerade,” the title tune and many others.
As Raoul, Jacoby is one-third of a love triangle and the rival of the Phantom (Cooper Grodin) for the heart of opera singer Christine Daae (Julia Udine).
The duet between Raoul and Christine, “All I Ask of You,” sung on the rooftop of the opera house and overheard by a concealed Phantom, is one of the show’s highlights.
“It’s a beautiful melody, a beautiful song,” Jacoby said. “They just don’t write them like that anymore.”
Although technically a tenor, Jacoby sings Raoul mostly in the baritone range, while most of the tenor songs are sung by the Phantom. Traditionally in opera, heroic roles are sung by the tenor and the villainous parts are in the bass-baritone range.
Jacoby acknowledges that he has the hero’s part, but it’s not a traditional, cookie-cutter role.
“You have this sense that maybe she should wind up with the Phantom,” he said. “Raoul offers her something that the Phantom doesn’t, and the Phantom also has this undefinable quality that draws her to him.
“That’s what makes this show work so well, it’s the ambiguity of these relationships. The audience is trying to figure out why Christine makes the decisions that she makes, and in a weird kind of way, they’re rooting for both of these guys.
“Raoul can be perceived as sort of a functionary character in a way,” Jacoby continued. “It’s important to remember that Raoul is really in love with Christine. His love for her is as big and deep as the Phantom’s, and so there is a push and pull there.
“We don’t really know who she should go with, and that’s what makes this love triangle so complicated.”