Brent Barrett, who will be in concert Saturday at the Garner Performing Arts Center, is a prime illustration of how Broadway extends beyond countries’ borders.
The former Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” lives in Las Vegas, where he appeared as the Vegas Phantom for three years, but he stays on the road more than he is at home.
He has done “Grand Hotel” and “Kiss Me Kate” in London, performed “Grand Hotel” in Tokyo, Nagoya and Kyoto and will be in Seoul and Tokyo for 11 weeks this summer in “Chicago” as Billy Flynn, a role he performed on Broadway not too long ago.
He even learned to sing in German for a six-month run of “Phantom of the Opera” in Oberhausen, Germany.
“I knew that would be a challenge, but I didn’t realize how difficult it would be,” Barrett said. “Halfway through the rehearsal process I was asking myself ‘what was I thinking.’ It was a lot of work and I don’t need to do it again, but I’m very happy I did it.
“Phantom is really beautiful in German.”
But Barrett spends much of his time pursuing his concert career. He and the late Betsy Friday, a Broadway producer and the daughter of former University of North Carolina president Bill Friday, formed Broadway Tenors in 2000. The idea was to create a concert show for Broadway stars who were between shows or who wanted to take a quick break from a long-running show.
Broadway Tenors has a pool of about 15 tenors, including former Garner Broadway Voices artists Norm Lewis, David Burnham, Hugh Panaro and Ron Bohmer.
Barrett’s newest venture is Four Phantoms. He has joined Franc D’Ambrosis, Ciaran Sheehan and Marcus Lovett to develop a concert program. All four had donned the mask. They recently appeared in a holiday ice skating special (they sang, but did not skate) and have a national tour booked.
“The entertainment world is very cyclical,” Barrett said. “One day they want Broadway theme acts, the next time they’ve had enough for a while.
“I think the time is right and I’m hoping the next few years will be very good. Asia is just starting to be tapped and I’m looking in that direction.”
He wants to leave time for some concerts, though. He likes the format.
“First of all, the performer chooses the music and brings his own personal spin,” he said. “It’s all about the personal connection you create with the audience so they feel a part of the proceedings. Even if the audience isn’t familiar with a song, hopefully they’ll be touched in some way.”
Who: Barrett has starred on Broadway as the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” and in “Grand Hotel” and “Chicago.” He was nominated for an Olivier Award for his performance in London in “Kiss Me Kate.”
When: Saturday, Jan. 14, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Garner Performing Arts Center, 742 W. Garner Road, Garner, 27529