Franc D’Ambrosio to appear in Tecumseh on Feb. 11Written by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
Broadway actor and film star Franc D’Ambrosio brings his impressive voice to the area just in time for Valentine’s Day with a solo performance at the Tecumseh Center for the Arts (TCA).
D’Ambrosio, a New York native, formerly held the title of the longest-running Phantom in “The Phantom of the Opera” for his portrayal of the masked antihero from 1994-99. Audience members will get to hear “Music of the Night,” his “absolute favorite” song from the Andrew Lloyd Webber show at D’Ambrosio’s Tecumseh performance.
“I think [“Phantom”] is a true love story in the purest sense of love. The music is just so exquisite,” D’Ambrosio said. “People can relate to the character. How can one relate to a phantom? Well, you can relate to his plight … everyone has been loved, and everyone has been left and we all know the sting of that.”
But before D’Ambrosio put on the famous mask, he was plucked from a chorus and chosen to appear in “The Godfather: Part III.” While D’Ambrosio was performing in “Sweeney Todd,” five talent scouts picked him for the part of opera-singing Anthony Corleone. D’Ambrosio also sang the movie’s Academy Award-winning song “Speak Softly Love.”
Despite the big jump from being a chorus-member to a movie star, D’Ambrosio said he was unfazed.
“It was different, interesting, I felt very comfortable; it felt to me like it was a challenge that I was ready for. I was too excited to be scared,” he recalled.
After D’Ambrosio’s film debut, he studied under Luciano Pavarotti, a well-known tenor, for about three months in Italy. “That was really quite amazing for me,” D’Ambrosio said.
That would not be his only experience with a famous tutor. After performing as the Phantom, D’Ambrosio went on to play the lead in Barry Manilow’s production, “Copacabana.” He considers himself a “little bit of a protégé” of Manilow.
“[Manilow] taught me how to relate to the audience. He taught me how to be a solo entertainer as opposed to a Broadway singer,” D’Ambrosio said.
D’Ambrosio will bring Manilow’s teachings to Tecumseh with his solo show, “Franc D’Ambrosio’s BROADWAY — Songs of The Great White Way.” The two-act show will feature many love songs, including tunes from “Phantom,” “Man of La Mancha” and “Barry Manilow.”
After the performance, D’Ambrosio will head to the Czech Republic for “Broadway On Ice,” where skaters move around live performers. “We’re quite the hit in Czech Republic. We’re selling out arenas,” D’Ambrosio said.
D’Ambrosio will also spend time teaching at The Juilliard School this year. “I love, love, love to teach,” he said. “I see a lot of young people who think having these big, impressive voices is enough to sustain a career and nine out of 10 times, that’s not enough.
“I give 150 percent as if it were opening night of a Broadway show [in each performance] and that’s one of the reasons I’ve lasted so long.”
Between touring and teaching, D’Ambrosio doesn’t spend a lot of time at his Manhattan condo or San Francisco home.
“[Being on the road] has been a part of my life since as long as I can remember. When I was home a week in New York, I didn’t unpack because I was so used to living out of my suitcase,” he said with a laugh.
Tickets are $23 for seniors and children younger than 18 and $25 for general admission. Call (517) 423-6617 for information on $40 dinner packages at JR’s Hometown Grill & Pub. “Franc D’Ambrosio’s BROADWAY — Songs of The Great White Way” begins at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 11. TCA is at 400 N. Maumee St., Tecumseh.