MEET MAX J. SWARNER

Tell us about your character. (What you like about your character, their strengths/weaknesses, similarities between you and your character, etc.)

The Phantom is a tragic figure – a horribly disfigured man so haunted by the art & beauty of music and so in love with a beautiful opera singer who personifies that deep passion for music that he is willing to do anything and everything to keep those passions alive. I fully identify with the Phantom’s heart for music and the beauty and richness that the art of music adds to life. Music pervades every aspect of my life and has helped shape the person I am today.

Why did you become interested in this production?

This story has been a major part of my life since I was 8 years old, as the Webber version was the very first Broadway show I ever saw. From the moment that show began, I was completely bitten by the acting bug and knew that there was nothing else I wanted to do with my life. It is very exciting for me to play this iconic role in a completely different adaptation of the famous story. While both musicals share the same legendary source material, they also each bring their own unique perspectives as well. This version contains a rich backstory for the Phantom that I am eager to share with our audiences.

Is there a favorite dramatic/character moment for you in the show for your character?

There are many powerful moments in this adaptation, and those moments are perfectly matched with beautiful and soaring melodies that add such richness to this story. Many of my favorite moments involve major plot points, so I want to keep those to myself. But, I believe our audiences will truly enjoy seeing this classic tale portrayed in a manner they may not have seen before.

The message of PHANTOM is that music can alleviate the pain of life. How has theatre/the arts helped you during hard times?

Music and theater have always been there for me – through the good and the bad. This is a world I knew I wanted to take part in since I was very little, and I cannot imagine doing anything else. Being a lover of music and art at such a young age does not come easy. I was often ridiculed and demeaned because I chose to do this over pursuing my sports career, but I could not ignore my heart. I am so humbled and grateful that I get to be a part of this noble profession. True, this is one of the toughest industries in the world, but when I come back to why I fell in love with it in the first place – music and theater – I feel as if I can achieve anything.