Limerick's Brian plays the Phantom on West End stage

A LIMERICK singer is this week realising the dreams of entertainers worldwide by performing one of the most iconic roles on the West End, appearing as Phantom of the Opera in the long running Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.

A LIMERICK singer is this week realising the dreams of entertainers worldwide by performing one of the most iconic roles on the West End, appearing as Phantom of the Opera in the long running Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.

Brian McCann, a former Crescent College Comprehensive student, took to the stage as the main character in the famous musical this Tuesday in a matinee performance at Her Majesty's Theatre in Haymarket, London.

The Limerick theatre star has been acting as understudy to Welsh singer John Owen Jones, who plays the lead in the musical.

Mr McCann was given his chance at this Tuesday's matinee performance of the high-profile show after several years playing other parts in the musical.

Speaking to the Limerick Leader recently, he revealed that he came from a family "steeped in musical history".

"My father, Michael's, parents, Harold and May, were heavily involved in the opera scene in Limerick in the 50s and 60s, which passed on to dad and his name was synonymous with light opera in Limerick throughout his life," said the Limerick performer.

"My mother, Sylvia, was also heavily involved with the opera scene and appeared in countless productions herself, so I could never escape from it really, we grew up with music in our house," he added.

Brian went to London 11 years ago, and after securing a place at the prestigious Mountview Academy of Theatre of Arts, graduated in 2002 with a BA (Hons) in Performance.

He has also appeared in Queen musical, We Will Rock You, "jamming" on stage with Brian May, and has also appeared in the British tour of The Rocky Horror Show and The Who's Tommy, as well as musicals Jesus Christ Superstar and Chess.

Brian credits local actor Richie Ryan with giving him his "first shot", after he cast Brian in the panto, Down in the Woods, in 1998, and while it is his current role in one of the world's most famous musicals that has him most excited, he has not forgotten his roots.

"Being in the Phantom as an understudy to the title role is a thrilling experience, and playing the Phantom is something I could only have dreamt about when I first moved over here," he explained.

"I've been very lucky in my career so far. Although I consider London my home, my heart will always be in Limerick. It is brilliant that the great tradition of theatre remains there," he added.