Floating across the stage on a gondola-like boat, surrounded by candlelight in a labyrinth underneath the Paris Opéra House, Christine Daaé has just been convinced to follow the illustrious Phantom as he leads them across a lake back to his lair.
“There’s this moment when I’m not singing and I get to look out at the audience, the Phantom is singing behind me and I really, genuinely got to take in that moment and let it sink in and resonate that this dream that I had had since I was 13 years old was a reality.”
This was how Princeton’s Eryn LeCroy felt in her first performance as Christine in Broadway’s “The Phantom of the Opera.”
LeCroy and her family had moved to Princeton when she was in middle school, but her singing career began long before that. Starting at age seven, LeCroy began in different children’s choirs where she learned to read vocal music.
Eventually joining the Princeton Girlchoir, LeCroy sang with them for a few years while she also played the piano. Starting to study piano at Westminster Choir College, it was there where LeCroy had her first lessons.
“I had my first few voice lessons before I found my voice teacher in Lawrenceville,” LeCroy said. “Her name is Dauri Shippey and she taught me private voice lessons from middle school all of the way through high school.”
LeCroy recalled how she was drawn to performing when she was a young girl and her parents had taken her to see the national tour of “Beauty and the Beast” at the Texas State Fair when the family lived there at the time.
“I had never seen anything like that up until that point,” she said. “I had seen TV shows and I couldn’t believe that there were live people in front of me on stage. So that’s where I really piqued my interest in theater. It was honestly ever since then that I realized that I wanted to perform.”
From there, LeCroy began getting involved with the piano for the first time and joined different choirs where she learned multiple things about the art of performing.
“It taught me a lot of discipline at a young age, which definitely is important to have if you want to have a career as a performer. It’s a lot discipline, a lot of hard work, a lot of focus and a lot of vision,” she said.
During her time spent in New Jersey, LeCroy became involved in community theater. She did multiple performances at Mercer County Community College’s Kelsey Theatre. Her first performance came at 13 years old, when she played the strawberry seller in a production of “Oliver.”
“From then on, I just did more musicals, doing a couple of local opera performances,” she said. “So, I got some exposure to both worlds. Because I was training classically, my voice teacher really encouraged me to do voice competitions at Westminster Choir College.”
Following her advice, LeCroy participated in multiple competitions not only at a state level, but nationally as well.
During the summer before her senior year of high school, LeCroy attended Boston University’s Tanglewood Young Artists Program, where she studied opera over the course of six weeks.
After high school, LeCroy attended Oklahoma City University for vocal performance. Studying opera for her undergraduate degree, LeCroy booked a national tour as soon as she graduated. Performing in “Jekyll & Hyde,” LeCroy toured the country for seven months until she moved to Manhattan, where she has resided since.
It was there that LeCroy made her debut as Christine on Nov. 21, 2018, but it was a role that she has wanted to play since she was just a girl.
“I saw ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ in London for the first time when I was 13 years old; my family had taken a trip out there,” LeCroy said. “I remember seeing that show and the music started – the overture – and I got so emotional because I was overcome by the beauty of the music and what I was seeing onstage.
“After seeing that show, I said ‘I want to play that role one day on Broadway.’ Ever since that moment, it has been a huge dream of mine and I have always dreamt of how it would feel to take my first bow on a Broadway stage, and I didn’t know what show that it would be with. I had kind of hoped that it would be with ‘The Phantom of the Opera,’ and it was,” she added.
Making her debut on the night before Thanksgiving, LeCroy felt that the timing was very appropriate.
“I remember, right before I went on stage, before my first performance, my stage manager pulled me aside and said, ‘In the midst of everything going on and everything that you are trying to remember, I want you to really try to find a moment during the show where you can just pause and take it all in.’ I was able to do that in that iconic moment in the show with the boat.”
And as Christine fainted from the Phantom’s proposal, he gently laid his cloak over her unconscious body, while serenading his love with “The Music of the Night.”