Future looks bright for 19-year old talent

HOLLYWOOD - Paloma Garcia-Lee plays Meg, the close friend of Christine, the heroine of "The Phantom of the Opera" with whom the shadowy masked figure of the title role, who lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, falls madly in love.It's a supporting role, but, to a young 19-year-old graduate like Paloma, it's a juicy one, and a significant step in the right direction. Born in Minneapolis and growing up just outside Philadelphia, Paloma says she was born into show business, as her parents, both performers and owners of a dance studio, home-schooled and trained her. She has at the same time studied with American Ballet Theater, The Princeton Ballet School, Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Spirit in Motion Ballet Theater, and has at various times performed at Radio City Hall, in Hong Kong, in China, and "just about everywhere in the U.S." She graduated in June of 2008 from the North Carolina School of the Arts in both acting and dance. She was only 17 when she was tapped for the ballet chorus of The Phantom of the Opera's Broadway production that October, making her one of the youngest performers ever hired for the production. She was also an understudy for Meg. Her big moment (so far, anyway) came in May last year when she joined the third national tour of The Phantom of the Opera to play Meg. This group is one of three national tours that perform the musical in various parts of the country, in addition to the Broadway production, which, now in its 23rd year, has been dubbed the "most successful and longest continuously-running musical in U.S. history," with no end in sight. It is this third national tour, known as the Music Box Company, that opens its Los Angeles run tonight (Sept. 23) at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood and ends on Halloween Night, Oct. 31. It is the third national tour's final performance. Just back recently from a pleasure trip to Switzerland and contacted in Pittsburgh, where her Phantom was about to conclude another run, Paloma said this would be her first trip to Los Angeles, and she couldn't wait to get here. "Being part of the tour [and playing Meg] is so much fun," Paloma says. "You're learning something everyday. Right now, I'm open to everything, alert to every opportunity. I'm like a sponge, just soaking it all up. I'm just so thankful for it all." An only child and particularly fond of horses and dogs, Paloma says she's still very close to her family ("They've been very supportive all along"). Only too aware that Oct. 31 is the final performance of the third national tour, Paloma says she has several options to consider as soon as the final curtain falls. "I love working, and I love performing," she says. "I'll probably move back to New York to see what would fit me best. You never know what will turn up. Of course I'd like to go on to films, or TV. Doing commercials isn't such a bad idea. Or doing another musical. If Broadway's Phantom comes calling, I'll come running." For information, visit www.thephantomoftheopera.com.

********** Published: September 23, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 23