Broadway singer and actor Franc D’Ambrosio – who is best known for his role as the Phantom in the Tony Award-winning musical, “The Phantom of the Opera” – will use his talent to bring the holiday spirit to Charlotte on Nov. 25.
D’Ambrosio will perform a “Christmas in New York” concert at St. John Neumann Church, 8451 Idlewild Road, in Charlotte. Proceeds from the 7 p.m. show will benefit the church’s youth ministry programs. Tickets range from $20 to $25.
D’Ambrosio holds the distinction as the World’s Longest-Running Phantom for the role and has retained the title for more than a decade.
Affectionately known as “The Iron Man of the Mask,” D’Ambrosio grew up in the Bronx and made his Broadway debut in the first revival of “Sweeney Todd.” He studied at the well-known Vocal Academy of Lucca in Italy, where he was invited to study with Luciano Pavarotti at his home in Pesaro.
D’Ambrosio’s list of accolades is a long one, including: an Academy Award-nominated film, an Emmy Award-nominated television show, four-time Tony nominated Broadway show, two Grammy considerations and a National Theatre Award nomination.
But D’Ambrosio is best known for his work as the Phantom and for his role in “The Godfather III” where he played Anthony Corleone, the opera-singing son of Al Pacino and Diane Keaton, and sang the Academy Award-winning theme song, “Speak Softly Love” (“Brucia la Terra”) on the original motion picture soundtrack.
So how did a show at St. John Neumann end up on his schedule?
D’Ambrosio said a good friend connected to the church suggested it.
“And I’m Catholic,” he said, laughing. “That’s all it takes for me to come is a willing priest and space in my schedule. It’s the least I can do, to come by and give back.”
D’Ambrosio said he has been performing “Christmas in New York” for more than a year “all over the country, from New York City all the way to San Francisco.”
“It’s from my perspective when I was a kid,” D’Ambrosio said. “It’s from when we used to go to Manhattan and visit all the sights and sounds of Christmas in New York.”
The show starts out with a scene about Macy’s, including a medley of songs about toys and children. Popular songs like “We Need A Little Christmas,” “My Favorite Things,” “Sleigh Bells Ringing” and “White Christmas” are an early part of the show.
“We would always go up to Lincoln Center where my mom used to go to see ‘The Nutcracker,’” D’Ambrosio said. “Then my sister and I used to go to Central Park to build a snow man. Then we would go down to Rockefeller Center to see the big Christmas nativity scene and the Rockettes.”
Toward the end of the show is a musical walk-through of the nativity scene complete with a nativity music medley including: “What Child Is This?” “The Little Drummer Boy” and “O Holy Night.”
D’Ambrosio explained that the second act includes a “bell medley” with all the familiar Christmas songs about bells.
“Then we segway into the Fifth Avenue window displays,” he said. “We go from one window to the next singing about the theme of the window.”
“All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth,” “Deck the Halls” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” are examples of songs sung during this part of the show, D’Ambrosio said.
The show concludes by heading back to the Bronx for midnight mass, D’Ambrosio said, followed by a Christmas carol sing-a-long with the audience. D’Ambrosio finishes with a solo of “Ave Maria.”
“It’s a very, very funny, yet poignant embracing of the true Christmas spirit,” D’Ambrosio said of the show. “It’s a day in New York City at Christmas; it’s a journey through the whole city in a musical capacity. It’s a lot of fun.”
D’Ambrosio said the show has been a success in the past.
“We’ve gotten three standing ovations per night,” he explained. “I think people are in for a treat if they like Christmas music. It’s a real family show.”
North Carolina is a favorite for D’Ambrosio.
“We’re looking forward to getting there, and it’s truly one of my favorite states,” he said. “I have some family in Wilmington. It’s always a state I enjoy returning to. Hopefully we can go in and sing a great show and hopefully make people very happy and send them off to begin Christmas.”
For more information or to purchase tickets, call 704-535-4197.