Kaley Ann Voorhees with Tony Award nominee Norm Lewis in The Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theatre on Broadway.
When Point Park student Kaley Ann Voorhees was given an extraordinary opportunity to audition for The Phantom of the Opera in New York City last summer, she thought it would merely be a chance to gain experience with the professional audition process.
Little did she know that, just a few weeks later, the Aurora, Ohio native would be onstage at Broadway’s Majestic Theatre, singing the lead role of opera soprano Christine Daaé in Broadway’s longest running musical.
Her Cinderella story is “amazing and a bit unreal,” says Voorhees, whose short road to Broadway began when her talents caught the attention of a talent manager who heard her perform in a Cleveland-area singing competition. The manager got in touch with Broadway casting agent Tara Rubin’s office, and Voorhees was surprised to receive a request to audition.
“They asked me to prepare to sing “Think of Me” at an audition in New York” just 48 hours later. I memorized the song in the car!” says Voorhees, who had no previous professional experience and had just completed her sophomore year as a musical theatre major at Point Park.
“At that point, I was just happy to be there and to be seen,” she says. “It seemed so far off and unattainable. I never dreamed it would get as far as it did!”
Her September debut onstage at the Majestic is now “kind of blurry. I had so much adrenaline pumping,” says Voorhees, who plays the role at certain performances of the smash Andrew Lloyd Webber hit. She is part of a cast led by Tony Award nominee Norm Lewis as The Phantom.
“But I remember the feeling of walking out on that stage for the first time, and the lights, and everyone in costume. The energy onstage was amazing.”
Voorhees credits her Point Park training with preparing her to make the most of the Phantom audition, as well as take on the demanding role of Christine, an artistic challenge involving not only operatic-style singing but heavy and lavish costumes.
“I grew so much during my two years at Point Park,” says the Aurora High School graduate, who appeared in such productions as The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee with Playhouse Jr. last May. “The Conservatory training has helped me a great deal, including preparation for the audition. How you handle yourself, in a situation that involves so much stress, helps determine whether you get the job.”
She also has praise for her faculty mentors. “Jack Allison and Zeva Barzell – both of them have been amazing teachers,” says Voorhees. “My voice teacher [Alexandra] Sari Gruber has always been so supportive and lovely, and she has come to see me in Phantom. But I owe a part of this to all of my teachers, because I never had a teacher at Point Park that I didn’t grow from.”
Voorhees says she chose the Conservatory of Performing Arts in part because of the University’s strength in dance, an area she wanted to improve in. She says she definitely plans to finish her degree and hopes to do so at Point Park. For now though, she’s making the most of the opportunity of a lifetime on the Great White Way.
Her advice for the aspiring young actors who sometimes meet her at the Majestic Theatre’s stage door? “Just keep putting yourself out there,” says Voorhees. “If something seems unattainable, and out of your comfort zone, just go for it and put in your best effort. Even if you aren’t cast, you are a better person for the experience.”
“You never know what’s going to happen.”
Text by Cheryl Valyo
Phantom of the Opera photo by Matthew Murphy
Playhouse Jr. photo by Jeff Swensen
The Point is a magazine for alumni and friends of Point Park University