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Phantom‘s John Riddle Reveals Chita Rivera’s Texting Style and His Dream Lady Gaga Collaboration

July 2nd, 2020 | By Caitlin Moynihan

Before the COVID-19 pandemic forced Broadway to close its doors, John Riddle was seen as Raoul in the long-running The Phantom of the Opera. With the news that curtains won’t rise again until 2021, Riddle stopped by’s #LiveatFive: Home Edition to talk about his quarantine activities, jumping off the bridge in Phantom and his dream musical with Lady Gaga.

“It’s obviously been challenging and scary, but there’s still a bit of hope in there somewhere, too,” Riddle said to Paul Wontorek about the Broadway shutdown. “We never get this time off. Actors are used to the in-between time where we’re like, ‘Oh, what’s my next job gonna be?’ To literally have nothing to do and having to make something for yourself has been a helpful reminder of all the things that are important and why I like the theater. I’m playing the piano again and getting creative. That sounds so corny, but it’s true. Normally my brain is working a mile a minute and hustling. Now we can relax, find peace and get back to the good stuff.”

John Riddle in The Phantom of the Opera (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

Riddle was six months into his time as Raoul when the pandemic hit, and he’s been thinking about his favorite moments that the audience can’t see in the show. “I love in the second act when Raoul jumps off of the bridge into the pit below the stage,” he said. “My dresser Terence literally takes a bucket of water and wets me down so that it looks like Raoul just swam through the lake before going up to the Phantom’s lair. It’s really a fun moment.” When asked if he would ever want to switch over to the dark side and play the Phantom, Riddle responded, “absolutely.”

Prior to Phantom, Riddle was seen as Hans in Frozen and Young Anton in 2015’s short-lived The Visit, which starred Chita Rivera. “I’ll spend the rest of my career trying to top that moment because I got to sing to Chita Rivera every night and be in a scene with her,” he said. “We’re also still buds now, which is really great. She texts me every once in a while—she’s a great texter. She speaks through emojis, in case anyone was wondering. She loves the dancer lady, obviously, and the kiss lips and the fire. It’s the best.”

Riddle’s go-to quarantine music has been Lady Gaga’s Chromatica, which has him dreaming of a day when the Grammy winner might grace the Broadway stage. “Correct me if this is wrong, but I heard the rumor that she was going to do Lola in Damn Yankees,” he said. “I would love to do that with her. I could be Joe, right? That would be amazing. I will put my name under Gaga’s—that’s fine.”

Hear Riddle talk about who inspired his Phantom performance and more in the full episode below!




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