After playing in several Irish bands (which included The Action), in 1972 Wilkinson was cast as Judas Iscariot in the Dublin production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar; a role he went on to reprise in London and on the British national tour.
In 1976, Wilkinson sang the part of Ché Guevara on the concept album for the musical Evita. Instead of auditioning for the role when the production was launched in London, Wilkinson launched a solo career as a singer-songwriter.
By 1977, Wilkinson released his own eponymous album, (in his home of Ireland, he is known as “C.T. Wilkinson”), which charted in the Irish Charts for eight weeks at Number 1.
After his successful solo LP, Wilkinson began to actively prepare for vocal competitions. This led to his eventual representation of Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1978 with his own composition “Born to Sing”, earning 5th place in the European competition for his efforts.
Colm starred in Voices, a musical based on the life and times of Joan of Arc, which went on stage at the Olympia Dublin in 1984. The shows music and lyrics were written by Derry based composer, Tommy “TC” Doherty with the single ‘Child of Destiny’ being released at the time and now available on iTunes.
In 1985, he collaborated with Andrew Lloyd Webber once again, originating the role of the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera at the Sydmonton festival.
The London production of Les Misérables opened in October 1985, and transferred to Broadway in March 1987. Originally, the American Actors’ Equity Association refused to allow Wilkinson to play the part of Valjean in New York, due to their policy of hiring only American actors. At this, producer Cameron Mackintosh refused to open the show unless Wilkinson played Valjean. Actor’s Equity subsequently relented. Wilkinson won the Helen Hayes Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, and the Theatre World Award for his performance. He was nominated for the Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for Best Actor in a Musical.
In 1989, Wilkinson relocated his family to Toronto, Canada, when he was offered the title role in the original Toronto production of The Phantom of the Opera playing at the Pantages Theatre (now Ed Mirvish Theatre) which he starred in for four and a half years giving almost 1700 performances. He has lived in Toronto ever since.
Wilkinson also featured as Dr. Jekyll (and Mr. Hyde) in the original Jekyll and Hyde Concept Album released in 1990.
In October-November 2007, Wilkinson undertook a cross-Canada concert tour, Broadway and Beyond, along with Susan Gilmour and Gretha Boston.
Wilkinson played the part of Lord Thomas Darcy in the third & fourth season of Showtime’s miniseries The Tudors which began airing on 12 April 2009.
He participated in U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy’s birthday celebration at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. on 8 March 2009. The highlight of the evening was when President Barack Obama arrived on the stage and together with all the performers sang “Happy Birthday” to Ted Kennedy. He also was asked to perform at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library at the Memorial Service for Senator Kennedy on 28 August 2009, the evening before the Senator’s funeral.
On 24 May 2009 Wilkinson performed in the National Memorial Day Concert at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., in front of a large audience and screened live across North America on PBS.
A solo album was released in January 2010 titled “Broadway and Beyond: The Concert Songs”. It covers all of the songs that he performed on his cross-Canada tour in 2007. His previous album was released in 2002, titled “Some of My Best Friends Are Songs”. In it, he and his son Aaron Wilkinson cover the Cat Stevens song, “Father and Son”, as a duet. The album “Broadway and Beyond: The Concert Songs” is an eclectic mix of show tunes, his personal favorites and several songs from his stage productions. His support of PBS and listener-supported television in North America, following his participation in the 10th anniversary of the production of Les Misérables, brought him an hour-long program performing, including some of the songs from the album and one, “Gethsemane” from Jesus Christ Superstar, which he sheepishly admits that he had waited to perform for 23 years. The rendition is powerful and emotive. His television broadcast supporting Stage Heroes, Colm Wilkinson right on the heels of Les Misérables, brought positive reviews from fans and critics, with readers adding his name to their lists of “the five greatest singers ever”, in Rolling Stone Magazine.
On 3rd October 2010, Wilkinson was a special guest at the 25th Anniversary Concerts of Les Miserables, at the O2 Arena, alongside many other original cast members. He performed as part of a ‘Valjean Quartet’; alongside Alfie Boe, John Owen-Jones and Simon Bowman (each of whom has previously played the role of Jean Valjean in various productions of Les Misérables). This was recorded as a single (released in the U.K.) and performed live at the London Palladium; during the Royal Variety Performance on 16 December 2010.
A year later, on 1st and 2nd October 2011, he appeared – alongside a number of former Phantoms – at the 25th Anniversary Celebration of The Phantom of the Opera, at The Royal Albert Hall.
He is a Founding Artist of Theatre 20, a musical theatre company in Toronto formed by artists in 2009, and performed in Theatre 20’s 2011 Concert Series at the Panasonic Theatre. Other Founding Artists include Susan Gilmour, Louise Pitre, Ma-Anne Dionisio, Tamara Bernier Evans and Adam Brazier.
He performed his concert “Broadway And Beyond” at the Toronto Centre for the Arts in August 2011 for two nights for Dancap Productions.
Wilkinson appeared as Bishop Myriel in the upcoming film production of Les Misérables to be released in December 2012.
Colm Wilkinson is available for corporate events, private shows, milestone celebrations (birthday, anniversary), fundraisers, festivals, and more.