MEET OLIVIA RIVERA

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

I play the character the Belladova, a ballerina who used to be in the opera house when she was young. She dances a ballet telling the story of her son, Erik. Throughout the show she is described as not only being a seasoned ballerina, but having a mesmerizing voice, almost identical to “Phantom’s” ingenue Christine. She is described as being beautiful but also seeing beauty in everything, including her child. She dances her way into the show for only a short while but her story is strong and I love her character. As I dancer, I’m thrilled to play this role and share that connection with her.

Why did you become interested in this production?

Although I’ve always loved the story of the “Phantom”, the ballet aspect of the show is what really intrigued me. I’ve danced ballet since I was 3 and always wanted to be a ballerina but never actually set my head to it since my heart was more into musical theatre and I don’t have the typical ballet body type. So knowing if got this role I would have this beautiful mini ballet had me sold on auditioning. It’s sort of like getting to do something you always had a “what if” about and just enough to satisfy my ballerina itch. I’m grateful that I was lucky enough to be cast and can’t wait to perform.

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

Belladova is mentioned a few times in the show however, we only see her in a ballet at the start of the second act. And while that sounds like I wouldn’t have a lot of options to pick from for a favorite character moment it surprisingly gives us just enough information to feel as we know her ourselves and is a beautiful retelling of her story through ballet. My personal favorite moment from the ballet is when Belladova first sees her newborn baby, Erik, all told to us through dance. Although his father is disgusted by him, in her eyes he is beautiful and she would do anything for him. It’s a simply lovely moment where we really see into Belladova’s heart and the love she has for her child.

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

Since a young age, I’ve always been into musical theatre, dancing, and the arts in general so it’s always been my outlet when I need a break, my coping method, and when I just want to have fun. But if I had to choose one specific moment in my life when music helped me go through something it’d be the time I moved to college in New York City to study musical theatre. Even though New York isn’t too far from Connecticut and I’ve always dreamed of moving there, it’d be the first time I moved away from home by myself. I was pretty nervous, at least until my first day of classes. Being surround by dancing and music all day and people who are just as passionate about it as you made me confident I was in the right place.