What does Christina Aguilera have to do with the Phantom of the Opera, Broadway’s longest running musical? Everything, actually. You see, Aguilera was the coach of Chris Mann on NBC’s The Voice four years ago, and today Mann plays the Phantom which is currently touring North America. Six degrees of separation, y’all, six degrees.

While Mann finished fourth place overall on The Voice, when it comes to Phantom of the Opera, he seems to have come out on top. “I auditioned for the role of Raoul,” he says. Raoul, FYI, is a viscount and the fiancé of Christine Daae, who the Phantom is in love with. But he ended up being cast as the phantom, which Mann calls “mind-blowing.”

A life-long fan of the opera — his family had a double disc CD of the performance — Mann saw the show twice on Broadway growing up. But that doesn’t mean he’s imitating any past performers. “I try to be true to the music,” he says. “I hope through that, I can put my own little stamp on it.”

While Mann says he tries to stay physically fit for the role, which requires him to perform 10 times in Charleston alone, he also admits to carrying some of the Phantom’s emotional baggage. “Every day I have a little emotional breakdown,” he laughs. “My favorite part is when he unravels. I throw myself into [the character].”

Mann calls the current Phantom of the Opera tour, a “much more contemporary version” of the original show, which debuted in London’s West End in 1986, and on Broadway in 1988. “The set is a character unto itself,” he says. “It’s very exciting and cinematic. There’s lots of fire.” 

Phantom of the Opera plays at the North Charleston Coliseum from Wed. March 23-Sun. April 3. 

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