Sarah Brightman is back on American soil at last, embarking on A Christmas Symphony, a new holiday concert tour, beginning November 26 at the Wind Creek Event Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. As the Phantom of the Opera star prepared for her U.S. return and first in-person concert performance since COVID-19, we got to catch up via phone about the prospects of her returning to the stage, plans to visit outer space, and more.
And should we be on the look-out for a triumphant return to the musical theatre?
"Never say never. I think if I took on a role, the 8-show-a-week thing would probably throw me a little. I haven't done it in many years. I would have to be very careful about what role I took and sort of edge myself back into it to get used to it again. It's a very particular way of working."
As for that perfect role, the Cats and Phantom veteran surprised us with a Sondheim classic.
"The obvious one would be [Desiree in] A Little Night Music. I know I could do that role very well now that I've gotten to this stage in my life, and you know it's a beautiful song in there. It's perfection."
We also asked about previously-announced (but later abandoned) plans to visit the International Space Station, a notion that has become more realistic now that a handful of civilians have successfully traveled to space—and, most importantly, back. Despite this, Brightman has her reservations.
"I have really mixed feelings about the whole humans going to space thing. While there's wonderful things and it's very joyous for people, it costs a lot of money. I think there's a huge amount of things that space is very useful for on earth. I'm not sure that sending human beings out there—especially to deep space, which is very harsh. I learned a huge amount of it when I was in space training. I'm not sure that we're really that ready for it. We could send robots. It's less expensive, and it's less dangerous. And robots, satellites, can do all of the things we need from space. [But I feel] the emotional viewpoint and feeling that people get about humans going into space—we are explorers! It's dangerous, and we're kind of meant to be here. There's a reason why we're here."
Less dangerous is Brightman's holiday tour, which was announced earlier this year. A Christmas Symphony may be Brightman's first time back in front of a live audience, but the concert tour was born out of a 2020 streaming concert produced in quarantine.
"We were in the middle of [quarantine] last Christmas, and I thought, 'This is going to be horrible for everybody. What can I do for myself and all my musician friends and anybody that cares to listen to it?' I had done a Christmas album before, so I had a big repertoire."
That concert became Sarah Brightman: A Christmas Symphony, which streamed worldwide in 2020 and aired on PBS earlier this year. The concert is now available to stream for PBS Passport members.
A year later with many live performances resuming around the world, Brightman is bringing a version of that concert to 16 U.S. cities, including Newark, New Jersey; Staten Island, New York; Chicago, Illinois; Dallas, Texas; and more. Fans can expect Brightman to cover holiday favorites, both religious and secular.
"I've got some beautiful Christmas pieces that are very well known, like 'Silent Night' and 'O Holy Night.' There are also some surprising ones, like 'Arrival,' which is an ABBA piece that they wrote many years ago for New Year's. Not many people know about it, so there are a few surprises in there."
Brightman also shared that she won't leave her Broadway fans hanging.
"Of course I've got a few bits from Phantom, because they have the fancy ball and all of that, so I thought that would fit in perfectly for our celebratory section."
Brightman will be backed during the concert by a full orchestra and choir, a true achievement while COVID-19 protocols are still somewhat in place.
"We've managed to find a special seating situation for the choir where they're not suffocating. They can sing and be heard, and yet it protects everybody. I thought it through very, very carefully so that everybody feels comfortable and everybody gets what they want, which is having a good time and feeling the spirit of Christmas."
For a full itinerary and tickets to A Christmas Symphony, visit SarahBrightman.com.