Broadway actor Quentin Oliver Lee, who brought the mysterious Phantom to life in the acclaimed 2018 North American tour of “The Phantom of the Opera,” has died at the age of 34.

Lee’s wife, Utah native Angie Lee Graham, shared the news on her husband’s Instagram account.

“I saw his last breaths, held his hand tight, and felt his heartbeat slowly drift away,” she wrote. “He had a smile on his face, and was surrounded by those he loves. It was peaceful, and perfect.

“He was an incredible man, husband, father, son, brother, friend, singer, actor, and disciple of Christ with great faith in his Father in Heaven,” Graham continued. “To say ‘he will be dearly missed’ doesn’t reflect the scope of the people and communities he has created and touched.”

Lee died on Dec. 1, roughly six months after he revealed he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer.

The Phantom didn’t meet his Utah-native wife at the opera — he met her at church

Quentin Oliver Lee as the Phantom, left, and Eva Tavares as Christine Daaé in the national touring company of “The Phantom of the Opera.” | Matthew Murphy

Who was Quentin Oliver Lee?

Lee graduated from Northern Arizona University with a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance and moved to New York City to pursue his Broadway dreams, according to the Deseret News.

He spent his early New York days singing in the subway to pay for food. A few years later, he landed the role of the Phantom in the revitalized North American tour that visited Salt Lake City in July of 2018.

“To go from (singing in the subway) to all of the sudden five years later being in front of 2,000-plus people a day to standing ovations in the most iconic role in probably Broadway history is humbling,” Lee told the Deseret News in 2018. “Anytime I think about it, I’m sort of taken aback.”

Lee received high praise for his portrayal of the Phantom.

“As the title character, a lot rests on the Phantom’s shoulders — Michael Crawford’s Tony Award-winning performance as the original masked man is widely considered legendary — but Lee bears the weight with skill,” Whitney Butters Wilde wrote for the Deseret News. “He takes the audience on a roller coaster of emotions as his Phantom is alternately disturbing and pitiable, all while singing every one of the Phantom’s songs with ethereal vocal precision.”

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Lee’s Broadway credits included the 2017 production of “Prince of Broadway” and the 2021 revival of “Caroline, or Change,” per The Hollywood Reporter. Most recently, he starred earlier this year in the award-winning Off Broadway production of “Oratorio for Living Things,” Deadline reported.

Sharing his Latter-day Saint faith

A native of San Bernardino, California, Lee joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2010 and met his wife, Graham, at a church in the Harlem neighborhood.

Graham recalled seeing Lee for the first time at church and asking her roommate about him. Her roommate’s response: “Oh, that’s Quentin. He sings opera. You should date him.”

“And in my mind I thought, ‘Oh yeah. I am going to date him,’” Graham, who is from Orem, previously told the Deseret News. “Because he was just very charismatic and good with people — and tall, dark and handsome.”

The two married in August 2015, and, over the years, supported each other in their careers in the arts. Lee’s faith played a major role in his career.

“I think that it is important for everybody to know that whatever it is that you do, whether it is performing or being a stay-at-home mom or working at a construction company, that what you do is important — even if it doesn’t necessarily seem important or big or fancy or anything, it is important,” he previously told LDS Living, citing a scripture from The Book of Mormon. “As it says, ‘When you are in the service of your fellow men, you are only in the service of your god.’ .... Even though I am a Broadway performer coming to Salt Lake performing as Phantom, I am still a guy just trying to do his best and serve God in whatever way he can.”

Opening up about his cancer diagnosis

Lee revealed in a June Instagram post that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer.

“May 1st, I got Covid, and all the symptoms that go along with that. Worst of which for a performer was the difficulty breathing and fatigue,” he wrote in a June 5 journal entry on the Caring Bridge website per Today. “At the same time, I had been having IBS like symptoms. Running to the bathroom, difficulty eating, etc.”

The actor said his COVID-19 symptoms remained two weeks later, and that he “couldn’t eat or drink more than a couple of bites of anything without getting intense fits of nausea.”

“I was spending entirely too much quality time on the porcelain throne, running to it as a if my life depended on it. My breathing, which I had hoped would get better, was no longer congested like it had been during Covid,” he wrote. “Instead every breath came with a painful pressure to my ribs or shoulder. Which was confusing, to say the least.”

After several tests, Lee was diagnosed with colon cancer. The actor was open about his diagnosis over the next several months.

Tributes to Lee flooded social media following the news of his death.

“The Phantom family is saddened to hear of the passing of Quentin Oliver Lee,” the Broadway production of “Phantom” shared on Twitter. “Quentin brilliantly lead our North American tour in 2018. Our hearts are with Quentin’s family and friends.”

Lee is survived by his wife and daughter, Samantha.

“Samantha and I are supported and lifted by our families and our own faith,” Graham shared on Instagram. “Please understand if I don’t respond, but trust that your messages and love have been read and felt.”

Quentin Oliver Lee, left, and his wife, Angie Lee Graham. | Provided by Quentin Oliver Lee