NEW YORK, New York — After a 19-month hiatus, the longest-running show in Broadway history is returning to the stage next week, and when the curtain comes up on Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera," a Mainer will take center stage.
Sara Esty, who started dancing at the Maine State Ballet when she was 7-years-old, will take center stage as Meg Giry when "Phantom" opens on October 22 at the Majestic Theatre in New York City after its longest-running hiatus due to the pandemic.
For Esty, dancing has been her life.
"It was a part of my existence and kind of help make up the fibers of my being, which sounds dramatic but it was kind of true. When I was a kid if I wasn't physically active I was kind of a nightmare," Esty chuckled.
Her fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Gray introduced Esty to the "Phantom" score, which she said became an "obsession throughout my childhood," but the path to Broadway started years before in ballet class.
"The greatest gift of my artistic life has been the Maine State Ballet family," Esty said.
Maine State Ballet's artistic director Mrs. Meilie was in the New York City Ballet and Esty said she helped prepare her for a professional ballet career. Mr. Meile helped prepare Esty for Broadway with his musical theater background. She said all of her teachers at Maine State Ballet taught her and her twin sister not only discipline but a love of the arts and gave her the confidence to go after her dreams.
After graduating from Gorham High School, Esty was accepted into the Miami City Ballet where she later became a company member and soloist, dancing for there for 10 years.
It was in Miami that Esty found her voice, quite literally, when she sang in "West Side Story."
"It kind of started something and now I won't shut up," Esty laughed.
Six years ago, she made her Broadway debut in 'An American in Paris.' She has been waiting over a year to play her new role as Meg Giry in Phantom as she was cast before the show was shut down in 2020.
"I'm like rearing and ready to go!"
Because of the hiatus, for the first time in 30 years, "Phantom" is undergoing a revival of sorts, as the entire company is back in rehearsals making tweaks and getting the musical ready for its opening later this month.
For Esty, it's been a long wait but she's excited that the arts are coming back in full force.
"I think that in a world where things are so scary and [people] feel so hopeless sometimes ... it's essential that there is a balance of joy and happiness and things that touch you in a way that you can't always provide for yourself," Esty said. "I think it (the arts) will help heal all of us. I know it heals me."