The arrival of the North American tour of, “The Phantom of the Opera” at the Paramount Theatre marks a homecoming of sorts for Eva Tavares and Emma Grimsley.

Though neither are Seattle natives, both actresses playing Christine Daeé (the latter serving as the understudy) boast deep Northwest ties.

Tavares was born and raised in nearby Vancouver, B.C., and attended the University of British Columbia.

“You kind of take it for granted that you’re surrounded by beautiful mountains, and then when they’re not there it feels really weird,” she said. “So to be back in that kind of nature is very comforting.”

Meanwhile, Grimsley — the daughter of opera singers Greer Grimsley and Luretta Bybee — often came to town with her parents as a child, as they frequently performed in local productions.

“It’s easy to feel road weary when you’re moving from city to city every two weeks, but this feels like home,” she said.

Upbringings aside, the pair also look right at home on stage in Cameron Mackintosh’s dazzling production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which runs through Aug. 19 at the Paramount. On Opening Night, Tavares stood out in the leading role, opposite Quentin Oliver Lee’s Phantom, whose booming vocals made for a compelling contrast when the two shared the spotlight.

“We were pushed to make sure that these characters are very human, very gritty, they’re going through real stuff in real time, and I think that’s something that is just so important for this show and for the story, really showing all the struggles that everyone’s going through, and have it be something that the audience can relate to,” Tavares said. “I love that about this production.”

Both also see parallels to past roles. For Grimsley, it’s Johanna in “Sweeney Todd.”

“They’ve experienced some amount of loss and trauma in their life,” she said. “They’re often sort of told what to do by the older people in their life, but they have an extraordinary resilience.”

Tavares is reminded of her stint as Maria in “West Side Story.”

“[They] have a similar battle within themselves to really find their strength and their confidence and their ability to basically let go of the people that they think are their support network and really make their own decisions and move forward,” she said.

Perhaps deserving of its own line on the marquee is the one-ton chandelier that hangs above the crowd. With more than 6,000 beads, the mammoth fixture steals the show more than once, but words alone do not do it justice.

Of course, it’s still ancillary to a strong cast, one that captures the rapt attention of audiences right until the final moments of the two-and-a-half-hour show.

“It’s like a rock concert in there at the end,” Tavares said. "People are up and screaming and clapping and crying, it’s very emotional for a lot of people.”

For more information on the North American touring production of, “The Phantom of the Opera,” visit To learn more about Broadway at the Paramount or to purchase tickets, go to To comment on this story, write to

The chandelier that hangs above the front rows of the theatre has more than 6,000 beads, and weighs approximately one ton. Photo by Joe Veyera