Cooper Grodin and Julia Udine star in "Phantom of the Opera." Credit: Matthew Murphy
Julia Udine is aware that she’s stepping into some big shoes. For her first big tour, the actress is taking on one of Broadway’s iconic roles: that of Christine in “Phantom of the Opera.” The show, which has traveled all over the U.S. since launching in November, comes to Boston this weekend for a month of performances.
But she’s not too worried. “I feel like in a way I’ve almost been preparing my whole life for it just because it kind of brings all of my training together,” says Udine. The actress has been taking singing lessons for years, but it’s her ballet training that helps bring her closer to her character. Christine starts off as a dancer in the show, which is where Udine originally began training as well.
“I think dancers in general just have kind of a different mindset and it’s easy for me to connect with that since I have been doing ballet since I was three,” says Udine.
There are also some parallels between actor and character, since Udine is also a young performer getting her big break. That said, it’s Christine’s vulnerability that Udine finds universal. “There’s a part of her that’s just yearning for love the entire show and I think any young girl can connect with that because I think we all go through that,” says Udine. Of course, not all of us meet a mysterious masked benefactor to help us succeed in our careers.
According to Udine, that mask isn’t the scary part of acting with Cooper Grodin, who plays the Phantom. “The first time I saw him wearing the prosthetic makeup underneath the mask was probably the scariest thing ever. I never imagined that it would be so real and lifelike,” says Udine.
Still, true to her craft, the memory of that fear helps her stay in character for the moment when the Phantom is revealed to her onstage. While this may be her first big theater break, Udine has already achieved another important milestone for a New York actor, having appeared in a “Law and Order” episode. She played a sorority girl in an “SVU” episode called “Girl, Dishonored.”
Admits Udine, “I wasn’t the nicest of girls. I was part of kind of a hazing process where we were making the girls eat cat food.”
Despite the dark plotline, Udine says appearing on “Law and Order” was a “wonderful experience.”
Luckily, any food consumed onstage during "Phantom" will not be of the feline variety.
If you go "Phantom of the Opera" Thursday through July 20 Boston Opera House 539 Washington St., Boston $33-$245, 866-523-7469 www.boston.broadway.com