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David Kristopher Brown - interview

The globally renowned and beloved icon of a musical, The Phantom of The Opera is continuing to bring in audiences of masses to His Majesty's Theatre at the heart of the West End. Drawing together some immense drama, beautiful tracks and a romantic mystery, Lloyd Webber's work continues it successes.

Returning to the Phantom cast, 15 years after originally starring in the show, David Kristopher Brown is playing Piangi (the role he previously understudied), and has told us a bit more about how he approaches the part, and why this production was one to come back to.


What does the show mean to you, and what have you learnt since last playing the role of Piangi that will influence your portrayal this time?

The show means SO much to me - I was so lucky that Phantom was my first professional theatre job after graduating so it’s always had a special place in my heart. I hope I’ve learned a LOT since then! Haha! I guess I want to make him as much of a real, whole person as I can and general life experience helps give perspective for that immensely.

How have you prepared for the part, and does it feel familiar, or are you taking a fresh approach?

It's funny, in some ways it feels so familiar - especially doing the show in the same building and even with some of the same people, there’s definitely a strong emotional connection and familiarity, however because it has been such a long time (fifteen years) since I last did the show and so much has happened in my life since then, it’s almost like in some ways the memories I have of my first year at Phantom are like a TV show I watched or something.

It definitely feels like we are taking a fresh approach because the nature of doing any show with different performers is that what they innately bring to it will change the relationships and the approach just by being who they are and bringing their version of a character - which is BRILLIANT! One way in which we prepared during rehearsals that I loved was that I was able to sit down with Seth and Hugo our amazing Director and Resident Director, respectively, and Kelly our phenomenal Carlotta - we sat and discussed the core relationship between Carlotta and Piangi, what the dynamic is and how much they mean to each other. This was such a great exercise to do right at the beginning of the process because that relationship is SO important in building his character and being able to see not only what he loves about and needs from Carlotta but I was also able to see what he brings to the relationship and what Carlotta sees in him.

How has the show evolved since your original appearance?

The Phantom team are incredible and I feel like one of the things they are most brilliant at is knowing how to keep the show slick, relevant and visually stunning whilst also remaining absolutely true to what people have loved about it for nearly 37 years! There have been minor changes which help streamline the storytelling but it’s very much the same show I had the privilege to join 16 years ago. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t seen the show in the last couple of years, trust me though, it is awesome!

What drew you to return to the production, and with The Phantom of the Opera captivating audiences across the world for decades, why do you think it is such a beloved piece of theatre?

Well one of the reasons I was excited to return is that it feels like such a privilege to be asked to play a role that I have previously understudied, to be entrusted with playing Piangi 8 shows a week is an honour and one I’m THRILLED to take on. I think the show is so beloved because it’s so romantic, not just in its characters and story but also in its epic, sweeping and iconic score! And people love a good romance!

What does a typical show day look like for you?

Well we aren’t too long into the run yet so I haven’t fully established a ‘routine’ as such yet, but in an ideal world, I like to get up around 8:30-9am, go to the gym and train, come home and chill for a while or maybe have lunch with friends, then head to the theatre for about 4:30pm in plenty of time for warm up at 6pm. I really like to have a lot of time beforehand- I really hate rushing or being late! Haha! It also gives me time to see some of the people I don’t get as much time with during the show!

How does the drama and intensity of the plot, with iconic songs, keep the audience engaged?

Well I think it’s exactly that, it’s very dramatic and intense and full of emotion and the score only compounds those feelings in the best way! There’s also a lot of mystery around the phantom which people love and it keeps you guessing what will happen until the very end!

What is most challenging about starring in the show, and which elements do you enjoy the most?

I think one of the most challenging parts of playing Piangi or being in any show really is keeping yourself well and healthy - it can be a gruelling schedule, especially if it’s a heavy singing or heavy dance based show, so making sure you get adequate rest outside of the show is essential but it can be easy to forget that too!

I really love playing the comedy in the show - a lot of the people who I know that have seen it have said they didn’t realise the show would be as funny as it was, so helping to bring an unexpected surprise hit of comedy is a gift!

What would you tell your 21-year-old self when becoming Piangi the first time, if you knew you'd be back, having been in some other fantastic productions in the meantime?

Really take the time to enjoy it. It feels like it will last forever but it’s over so quickly. Enjoy it. - I’m still trying to tell myself this now.

Can you tell us a bit about your YouTube channel, and the successes you are having on there- what started your love for Disney, and what do you enjoy about creating YouTube content around it?

Of course! Thank you for asking about it! Well basically my wife Sophie and I have a YouTube channel called ’Sophie and Dave’ and a large part of what we do on there is share our trips to Disney parks (mainly Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris til this point).

It all started because Soph worked at Walt Disney World (in the Magic Kingdom on a ride called 'The Barnstormer') on the International College Programme whilst she was at University. I had never been and hated rollercoasters because I was terrified of them but she was convinced I would love it, so she took me on my first trip to Walt Disney World in 2011 and we absolutely fell in love with it. When we started the channel in 2017 we thought it would be fun to vlog our next trip and people seemed to enjoy it, and then when we vlogged our honeymoon in 2019 it seemed to really be what started to become a huge part of our channel - which we loved because we adore the Disney Parks! We recently had an absolute dream come true when we were invited out to Walt Disney World to work with Disney Parks UK on something - I’m not sure how much I am allowed to share about the project so I’ll keep it vague BUT it was the absolute experience of a lifetime!

Also, whilst we are talking about Soph, I just would love to say a massive thank you, because without her looking after our family so brilliantly, basically on her own for the most part (with help from our amazing family) I physically wouldn’t be able to be doing Phantom at all - she’s the absolute greatest.

Check out David and Sophie's YouTube channel here:

How do you ensure to cherish your moments on stage, and what will you take away from being part of The Phantom of the Opera again?

This is actually a great question, I have been trying to really take moments in when I can, whether it be backstage wearing the most incredible costumes or just having some time getting ready in my beautiful dressing room, or spending time with my incredible colleagues in the cast, crew, wardrobe, wigs, FOH etc - I try and just think about how lucky I am that I get to do this iconic show with all these brilliant people. In terms of what I’ll take away, the friendships are at the very top of the list. It’s always about the people first, for me.


Such a lovely interview - it's an absolute privilege to have been able to talk to you David, thank you. Wishing you all the best for the run and beyond!

Get your tickets to The Phantom of the Opera here:


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