For more than three decades, some very handsome actors have gotten ugly and masked to play the title role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera.”
Singer-actor Chris Mann, who makes his Feinstein’s at the Nikko debut this week, laughs self-deprecatingly at the irony of it: “Thank you?” he says, his voice rising to a question. “Isn’t it interesting? I guess you have to sort of half like him.”
It’s a role he wanted for a long time.
“I’m a child of the ‘80s, so I listened to it growing up.” He calls landing a 700-performances tour “a dream come true” but after two years, he was ready to hang up his mask. “No more makeup!”
His top three Phantoms? London’s Ramin Karimloo (“He’s the new standard”), Broadway’s Hugh Panaro (“He coached me, which was incredible”) and Michael Crawford (“You can’t beat the original”).
Mann, 35, gained exposure on the second season of “The Voice” as part of Team Aguilera. “It’s like being on the Grammys every week,” he says, noting that a lot of work goes into each episode.
“You rehearse with the band, by yourself, go to wardrobe fittings, shoot B-roll, go on interviews and they pull out all the stops to make you look good.” He ultimately finished fourth for the season.
Since then he has recorded two studio albums — “Roads” in 2012 and “Constellations” in 2016 — and made the professional rounds from New York to Nashville. He currently lives in Los Angeles with wife Laura Perloe and they very recently welcomed their first child, Hugo Christopher.
A Wichita native, Mann spent two years at Wichita Music Theatre, which was an early career stop for Broadway stars Kristen Chenoweth and Kelli O’Hara, among many others.
“I like being from Wichita because when I go home I see people I’ve known my whole life. It feels really good to know your neighbors and eat in the restaurants I love and visit the church I grew up in. I left 20 years ago, but it still feels like home.”
He professes to not sing in the shower — “I appreciate silence!” — but when he’s onstage he likes to croon, dip into the American songbook, remix standards and offer new takes on pop tunes like Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna With Somebody (Who Loves Me).”
“I’ve been sort of pigeon-holed as the dramatic balladeer, but I’ve got way more fun inside me. Come and see!”
IF YOU GO
Where: Feinstein’s at the Nikko, 222 Mason St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 3-4
Tickets: $31.50 to $65
Contact: (866) 663-1063, www.feinsteinsatthenikko.com