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Phantom of the Opera: cast, lyrics and famous songs

26 December 2018, 16:58 | Updated: 26 December 2018, 17:00

Phantom of the Opera

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous musical has been wowing audiences since 1986

The Phantom of the Opera is a 1986 musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The lyrics are by Charles Hart and it’s based on a French novel by Gaston Leroux.

The plot of the Phantom of the Opera

The story of the musical revolves around the singer Christine Daaé and a mysterious figure who lives in an underground lair beneath the Paris Opéra House.

The story begins as the singers of the Paris Opera are rehearsing for a new production. As the prima donna Carlotta performs an aria, a backdrop falls onto the stage and just misses her. The chorus immediately realise that the Phantom of the Opera is here. Carlotta refuses to perform.

Christine, a chorus girl, offers to take her place. And the managers of the house are surprised at her talent. It turns out that Christine has been taking singing lessons with a mysterious figure whom she only knows as her ‘Angel of Music’ – the Phantom himself.

One of the opera house’s new patrons, Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny, recognises Christine as one of his childhood friends.

But the Phantom has chosen Christine to sing his music, and he becomes increasingly obsessed by her.

first phantom of the opera cast

The Music of the Night - Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera

The Music of the Night – lyrics

One of the most famous songs in the musical, The Music of the Night is performed by the Phantom just after he's taken Christine to his underground lair.

It opens with the words: 'Nighttime sharpens, heightens each sensation / Darkness stirs and wakes imagination'

Read the full lyrics here >

All I Ask of You – lyrics

This song is a love duet between Christine and Raoul – he promises to love and protect her… but unfortunately the jealous Phantom overhears the whole thing.

The song begins with:

'No more talk of darkness, Forget these wide-eyed fears'

first phantom of the opera cast

All I Ask of You

The idea for Phantom came from Lloyd Webber, who contacted legendary producer Cameron Mackintosh and suggested creating a musical based on Leroux’s novel. There had already been two film versions of the novel, but never a musical.

Lloyd Webber said: “I was actually writing something else at the time, and I realised that the reason I was hung up was because I was trying to write a major romantic story, and I had been trying to do that ever since I started my career. Then with the Phantom, it was there!”

The style of Lloyd Webber’s music is deliberately operatic in style, while still remaining committed to its West End/Broadway origins. In fact, the story includes a number of made-up operas called Hannibal and the Phantom’s masterpiece Don Juan Triumphant.

Original cast

The original cast of the 1986 West End production included Sarah Brightman (Andrew Lloyd Webber’s then wife) as Christine and Michael Crawford as the Phantom. Steve Barton played the role of Raoul.

The musical opened on London’s West End in 1986 and then on Broadway in New York in 1988.

The Phanton of the Opera won a strong of awards including the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1988. It’s the longest-running show on Broadway, and in 2012 it celebrated its 10,000th performance!

Is Phantom of the Opera an opera?

Not exactly. Much of the music – especially the operas-within-the-musical – mimic the grand operas of the 19th century in their orchestration and style.

But the music makes completely different demands of its singers and the blockbuster songs of Phantom are custom-made for the powerful singers of the West End. And we wouldn't have it any other way.

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The Phantom of the Opera • New York


The phantom.

BEN CRAWFORD was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona and received a BFA in Music Theatre from The University of Arizona (Bear Down). His Broadway credits include  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory  (Mr. Salt), the titular character in  Shrek The Musical ,  Big Fish  (Edward Bloom u/s, Don Price),  Les Misérables  (Javert/Valjean u/s) and  On the Twentieth Century  (Bruce Granit u/s). Ben is so incredibly grateful to be back onstage. Thank you for wearing your masks and being vaccinated! Science rules! Love to Super Parents Tom and Cathy, the gorgeous Kelsey and the incredible Charlotte and Jack Crawford. Repped by CGF Talent. Be sure to check out Ben’s EPs Electronic Pandemic and A Crawdaddy Christmas on all music streaming platforms! @crawdady21


Christine daaé.

EMILIE KOUATCHOU  ( Christine Daaé ) is making her Broadway debut in Phantom . Recent credits include Unknown Soldier (Playwrights Horizons), Oklahoma! (Broadway at Music Circus, Sacramento, CA) and Sweeney Todd (Connecticut Repertory Theater). Graduate University of Michigan’s Musical Theatre program. She is extremely grateful for the love and support from her family, friends, team at Authentic Mgmt and CGF Talent, and everyone who has supported her throughout the years. All Black Lives Matter.


Alternate christine.

Julia is thrilled to return to Phantom , where she made her Broadway debut as Christine.  She previously toured the country as Christine with the original cast of the restaged North American National Tour.  She has been fortunate to perform with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Maestro Yannick Nezet-Seguin, celebrating Leonard Bernstein, and has also performed with Josh Groban in the opening of his Stages tour in Atlanta.  Other Theater credits include City Center’s Pirates of Penzance  (Mabel), Jack’s Back (Jenny), Tell Me On a Sunday and Shrek (Fiona). TV includes “Law & Order: SVU” and “All My Children.”  Love and thanks to her family and friends!


Raoul, vicomte de chagny.

JOHN RIDDLE ( Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny ) originated the roles of Hans in Disney’s Frozen and Young Anton in The Visit on Broadway.  Off-Broadway: Cal in Titanique . National tour: Evita .  Regional: Kennedy Center, Long Wharf Theatre, Goodspeed, PCLO, Casa Mañana, MUNY.  Other: Cinderella’s Prince in Into the Woods (Town Hall), The Secret Garden in Concert (Lincoln Center), soloist with the Cincinnati Pops.  TV: “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” “One Life to Live.”  Recordings: Frozen , The Visit , John Kander’s Hidden Treasures . @thejohnriddle

Nehal Joshi

Monsieur andre.

Broadway:  Flying Over Sunset ,  All My Sons ,  School of Rock,   Gettin’ the Band Back Together ,  Les Misérables  (Original Revival Cast),  Threepenny Opera .  Off-Broadway:  Cyrano ,  Working  (2008 revision, Drama Desk Award),  Grand Hotel  (Encores!),  Three Sisters . Regional highlights:  Les Misérables  (Dallas Theatre Center),  Oklahoma!  (Arena Stage),   Disgraced  (Arena Stage),  Disney’s The Jungle Book  (Goodman/Huntington).

Video Game: World of Warcraft: Cataclysm .

TV/Film: “Law & Order: SVU,” “The Wire,” “Search Party,” Blackout .

IG: @nehaljoshi.   The first time he stepped on a Broadway stage was to audition for Phantom …he didn’t get it (don’t worry the story ends happily).


Monsieur firmin.

Broadway: The Last Ship  (Billy Thompson),  A Tale of Two Cities  (Jerry Cruncher),  South Pacific  (Thomas Hassinger),  Miss Saigon  (Sgt. Schultz). Off-Broadway:  Music in the Air  (City Center Encores!),  Citizen Ruth  (NY Fringe Festival). National tour:  The Phantom of the Opera  (Monsieur Firmin),  The Light in the Piazza  (Signor Naccarelli),  Billy Elliot  (Big Davey),  Mamma Mia!  (Bill Austin),  Ragtime  (Willie Conklin),  Les Misérables  (Combeferre). Regional:  A Little Night Music  (Fredrik),  Randy Newman’s Faust  (Michael),  House of Martin Guerre  (Jehannot), all at the Goodman Theater, Chicago. Thanks to Steve and Dale. Love to Sala and Mako.


Carlotta giudicelli.

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Raquel is thrilled to be making her Broadway debut with Phantom ! Off-Broadway: Roxanne Conti,  iFigaro (90210)!  (Duke Theater); Grand Dame, Vox Lumiere’s  Phantom of the Opera . Opera: Marzelline,  Fidelio (Opera Carolina); Frasquita,  Carmen  (Opera San Antonio, Venture Opera); Susanna,  Le nozze di Figaro  (Opera on the James); Lauretta,  Gianni Schicchi (Opera on the James, DiCapo Opera); Opera Lyra Ottawa; Syracuse Opera. Prize Winner: Giulio Gari International Vocal Competition, Florida Grand Opera YPO Competition. Special thanks to my loving mom and dad, Tara Rubin Casting, Renée Fleming, Joan Lader, UIA Talent and my dream team at Empower Voices Now!


Madame giry.

MAREE JOHNSON  ( Madame Giry ) is thrilled to rejoin the Broadway production after recently playing Madame Giry on Sydney Harbour (Handa Opera & Opera Australia). Other Australian credits include  Phantom  (Christine Daaé)  Cats  (Grizabella),  Les Misérables ,  West Side Story  (Maria),  My Fair Lady  (Eliza),  Scrooge  (Isabel/ Helen), two concert productions of  Follies  (Young Heidi, Young Sally) and the lead in Sondheim’s  You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow  at Sydney Opera House. Maree’s U.S. credits include  Zorba  (The Widow),  Passion  (Fosca, Barrymore Award nomination) and  Myths & Hymns  (Emily).  As always, love and thanks to Jason, Audra and Helena.


Ubaldo piangi.

Heralded by  The New York Times  as an “ardent tenor,” Carlton Moe debuted at Carnegie Hall as a soloist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with such organizations as the Oregon Symphony, Walla Walla Symphony, Aspen Music Festival, Savannah Voice Festival, Opera in Williamsburg, Charlottesville Symphony, and the Martina Arroyo Foundation. He holds a Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music, where he attended on a full scholarship. All my love to Alison.

Sara Esty she/her/hers

SARA ESTY she/her/hers ( Meg Giry ) is a former soloist with the Miami City Ballet, and Princess Grace Award recipient for dance. Select theater:  An American in Paris  (Lise Dassin, Broadway/first national tour),  Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust Road  (Clara, The York Theatre Co.),  Brigadoon  (Jean, NYCC Encores!),  A Chorus Line  (Maggie, Encores!; Cassie, Cape Playhouse),  Alien/Nation (Williamstown Theatre Festival, Forest of Arden Co. Member). Film/TV:  West Side Story  (dir. Steven Spielberg), “Fosse/Verdon,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Love and thanks to BRS/Gage and my family! @estygrl


Ballet chorus.

Broadway debut! New York: Brigadoon (NYCC Encores!) Regional: Maria in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway (TUTS). Concert Dance: CityDance Ensemble, the Washington Ballet, Miami City Ballet. Proud National YoungArts Foundation Alumna. Passionately committed to advocating for a world free of Multiple S clerosis. Endless love to the Alvari for their unconditional support. Passionately committed to advocating for a world free of Multiple Sclerosis. Endless love to Alexander and the Alvari.


Production dance supervisor/dance captain/ballet swing.

Polly recently appeared in the new Susan Stroman musical, Marie , at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre. She has toured the country with An American in Paris and Phantom . She is beyond thankful to have been a part of the Phantom Phamily for so many years! Endless thanks to Denny and Seth, as well as her amazing family.


Innkeeper’s wife (“don juan triumphant”).

Broadway: Baz Luhrmann’s   La Bohème on Broadway  (Mimí). Principal artist at the Metropolitan Opera, Theatre du Châtèlet Paris, Teatro Dell’Opera di Roma, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Den Norske Opera. TV: “FBI” (guest star). Film: Spike Lee’s  Red Hook Summer  (featured). Debut album:  Love the Color of Your Butterfly  available at


Broadway debut! Xiaoxiao was born in China. She danced with Guangzhou Ballet as a soloist in China after her graduation from Guangzhou Art School. In 2012, She moved to the U.S. and joined the Suzanne Farrell Ballet. She’s a dancewear designer as well, her line is called Xiaoxiao Designs (@xiaoxiaodesigns)


Page (“don juan triumphant”).

Kanisha Marie Feliciano  ( Page ). Broadway debut:  Flying Over Sunset . Credits:  Abduction of the Seraglio ,  Little Women ,  Dinner at Eight ,  Don Pasquale ,  The Ballad of Baby Doe . MM, U of Houston. BM, Westminster Choir College. Love to Nova Thomas and Tom Jaber for helping me find my voice, and to friends and family for unwavering support.


Joseph buquet/don attilio (“il muto”).

Broadway/national tour: Evita, Carousel , A Bronx Tale , The Last Ship , The Phantom of the Opera , Sweeney Todd , Company .  Regional theaters credits include: The Kennedy Center, Cincinnati Playhouse, Arkansas Rep, Paper Mill Playhouse and more.  TV/Film: “Prodigal Son,” “Jessica Jones,” “Elementary,” “Person of Interest,” “Flesh & Bone,” “Unforgettable.”



Chris proudly made his Broadway debut with Phantom in March 2018! Two-time Rutgers University graduate (BMus and MMus). Host of the Georgetti on Ice! podcast. Represented by CPM Talent Management. All my love to my wife Amanda, my angel of music.


Madame firmin.

Broadway: Company (Kathy), 2007 Tony Award, revival. National tours: The Phantom of the Opera (Christine alternate), Show Boat (Magnolia u/s), Secret Garden (Rose u/s).  Regional: Cabaret (Sally), Jekyll & Hyde (Lucy), South Pacific (Nellie). TV/Film “Blacklist” (NBC), “Crashing” (HBO), “That D#$n Michael Che” (HBO Max). Thanks Tom, Parents, Barry and daughter Navia!


Wardrobe mistress/confidante (“il muto”).

Credits include Film: Knock at the Cabin . TV: “Law & Order: Organized Crime” (guest star), “Servant,” “Mare of Easttown,” “FBI: Most Wanted.” Theater: The Lodger (Northern Stage), Legacy of the Tiger Mother (Best of SF Fringe). Commercial: Bank of America, IBM, Smartwater. Podcast: I Heart Geek . AEA, SAG-AFTRA. @satomihofmann


Broadway debut! Originally from Ehime, Japan, she’s performed with the International Tour of  The Phantom of the Opera  and   The MET Opera. Endless thanks to Denny and the  Phantom family. Love and big hugs to Vinny, as well as her family and friends! 

Jeweler (“Il Muto”)

Broadway: Sweeney Todd , Camelot , Cyrano – The Musical , Phantom.  National Tours:  Camelot , Phantom. Orchestral soloist: Detroit, Syracuse, Charleston WV, Portland, Pittsburgh, Ottawa, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Edmonton, Fort Worth Symphonies, Dayton Philharmonic, National Symphony. Ted’s solo CD available on iTunes. Proud member of Actors Equity Association for 32 years. Visit:

Solo Dancer

Kfir began his dance career in Israel, where he was born and raised. A graduate of the Royal Academy of Dance and Principal dancer with the Alabama Ballet, Kfir is also a pop singer/songwriter whose latest single is featured on MTV Europe. For more Kfir music visit .


Broadway debut! Tour: Fame (Iris Kelly). Regional: West Side Story , An American in Paris , Singin’ in the Rain . Endless gratitude to Polly and Denny. I love this show and can’t wait to share the magic with our audiences. To Mom, Dad and Kathleen, thanks for believing in me! To God be the glory!


Monsieur lefévre/firechief.

RICHARD POOLE ( Monsieur Lefèvre/Firechief ). Broadway and national touring credits include Cats (Gus/Growltiger), Les Miz (Valjean), Evita (Che), Joseph… (Joseph standby), Mame (with Angela Lansbury) and Dreamgirls (original production). Other productions include the European tours of Ken Hill’s The Phantom of the Opera (Phantom) and Hair (Claude). Winner, Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Circle Award for Assassins (Booth).


Raoul and Phantom in three other versions. Tours: Hal Prince’s Show Boat, Into the Woods, Martin Guerre . Regional: She Loves Me, Company, A Christmas Carol (Goodman), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Steppenwolf), Lend Me a Tenor , Crazy for You . Director: Into the Woods . Northwestern graduate. Love to Hannah and Lily.

Broadway:  The Woman in White.  Off-Broadway:  After the Ball  (Irish Rep). Tours:  Phantom  (Raoul),  Big  (Josh). Las Vegas:  Phantom . Regional:  Evita  (Che),  Jesus Christ Superstar  (Jesus),  Miss Saigon  (Chris),  Aida  (Radames),  Sweeney Todd  (Anthony),  Chess  (Freddie). Love and thanks to my family, Bridget and Connor. Woo Doggies!


Spanish lady.

Broadway/National Tours: Christine in Phantom (Broadway’s 10,000th performance), Carlotta in Cameron Macintosh’s Spectacular New Phantom tour, The Bridges of Madison County (Francesca understudy), White Christmas (Betty Haynes). Regional: Cleveland Playhouse, Denver Center, Riverside Theatre, Arkansas Rep, Bay Street Theatre. Alum: Baldwin-Wallace University. Love to her family and to Stephen.


Originally from Vancouver, Justin has performed at the Met Opera, the Tony Awards, the Kennedy Center and in various film and TV productions. Broadway: Movin’ Out (Swing), Come Fly Away (original cast, Dance Captain, Hank). Companies: Alberta Ballet, Ballet British Columbia, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. Love to Grandma Lil, Button and Kristina.

Christine Daaé over 3,000 performances (Broadway, world/national tours),  Cats  (Hamburg),  The Secret Garden  (JOB),  My Fair Lady  (Media), concerts. Director/Dramaturg:  Steel Magnolias  (Seton Hall),  Trouble in Tahiti/Filthy Habit  (LOON),  Adding Machine  (B-Side), Belleville (Brooklyn College). Producer: FEAR (Off-Broadway). Faculty @iamusicaltheatre. Story Analyst, Amazon Studios. @marnisee


Broadway debut. Off-Broadway:  Carmen Jones (Cindy Lou, AUDELCO nomination, Best Featured Actress in a Musical);  Brigadoon , New Yorkers ,  Gentlemen Prefer Blondes ,  Lost in the Stars  (Encores!);  Radio City . National tours: The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess ,  Memphis, After Midnight . For our Angel of Music, Quentin Oliver Lee.

Honored to be back at the beloved Majestic with you all! Native of Oakland, CA. Boston Conservatory of Music alumnus. Credits include Broadway/National tour: Leonard Bernstein’s MASS (Carnegie Hall), Phantom , Martin Guerre (U.S. premiere), Carousel , Cats (Grizabella) and 42nd Street . Love to Bennett and Cameron.


PAUL ADAM SCHAEFER ( Marksman ) is so grateful to be performing in Phantom . Stage work: …Millie (first national, regionally), Company (Barrington), High Society (Walnut Street), …Albertine (Playwrights Horizons), Giant (Playwrights VA), Fantasticks (Maine State). TV: “FBI,” “Blacklist,” “Ways and Means,” “Baker and the Beauty,” “Law & Order,” “Guiding Light.” Many thanks to CPM and Clear.


NYC credits include  Fiorello!  and  Brigadoon  at City Center Encores!, as well as the original workshop of  An American in Paris . Regional:  Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Fiddler on the Roof, The Nutty Professor, Sweet Charity, Mary Poppins . Film/TV: “The Punisher” (Netflix), “For Life” (ABC),  Equal Standard .


Passarino (“don juan triumphant”).

Theater: Beauty and the Beast (Gaston), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Trevor), The Scarlet Pimpernel (Percy), Carousel (Billy), Camelot (Lionel), Jekyll & Hyde (Jekyll). TV: “As The World Turns” (Patrick), “Guiding Light” (Marco), “All My Children,” “Rescue Me.” Thanks to The Mine. Love to my beautiful wife and family.


Phantom national tour; The Fall of Zalam (Shapeshifter Lab); Hello My Baby! , Half a Sixpence (Goodspeed); The Foreigner (Maltz Jupiter); Cabaret (Pittsburgh Public). TV/Film: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Breaking Bad,” “Vinyl,” “FBI,” “The Blacklist: Redemption,” “Odd Mom Out,” “Flesh & Bone,” “Royal Pains,” “The Carrie Diaries,” The Tell-Tale Heart , Death in Love .

Tug  is always thrilled to be back at Phantom.  Broadway and tours include  Cats , Chicago  and  Evita . TV: “Law & Order: SVU.” MFA San Diego State University, BFA Syracuse University. Son of Drew and Becky, he hopes you enjoy the show. Stay well!


Monsieur reyer/hairdresser (“il muto”).

JIM WEITZER ( Monsieur Reyer/Hairdresser ). Broadway:  The Phantom of the Opera  (Raoul; Andre, 25 th  Anniversary cast),  Little Women  (John Brooke, original cast album). National tour:  My Fair Lady  (Freddie). Regional:  The Rivals  (Faulkland),  Cabaret  (Cliff),  Anything Goes  (Billy Crocker),  Forever Plaid  (Smudge),  Passion  (Giorgio). Jim is a mental health clinician (MHC-LP) currently taking new clients who live in New York State.


Princess (“hannibal”).

Christine Daaé in the German company of The Phantom of the Opera . She also covered Christine on the national tour. Regional: Les Misérables , The Taffetas , Beauty and the Beast , West Side Story . Opera: Le Nozze di Figaro , Les Contes d’Hoffmann , L’Elisir d’Amore . Love to my angel.

Broadway:  M. Butterfly , The King and I. National tour:  An American in Paris . Regional:  Brigadoon  (Maggie),  Jerome Robbins’ Broadway  (Eliza),  In Your Arms (White Snake).  Television: “NCIS: Hawaii.”  Ballet Companies: Milwaukee Ballet, Ballet Theatre of Maryland.  Much aloha to my family, John, Patty, Jamie and Nick.,

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The Phantom Of The Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre

The Phantom Of The Opera actors: Where are they now?

Kitty Underwood

By Kitty Underwood First Published 22 October 2019, Last Updated 31 October 2019

The Phantom Of The Opera has been making audiences weep, scream and applaud with all their might for over 33 years now. With some immense talent required to belt out those songs, the Phantom Phandom (we’re not sorry) all have a favourite masked man. In case you were  Wishing They Were Somehow Here Again, we thought we’d check out what some of our favourite Phantom Of The Opera actors are up to now. 

Michael Crawford

Phantom Of The Opera Actors: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Michael Crawford and Cameron Mackintosh. (Photo: Dan Wooller)

Michael Crawford was the original phantom back in 1986. Anecdotally, Michael was offered the part after Andrew Lloyd Webber and his then wife Sarah Brightman arrived early for her singing lesson and happened to overhear the end of the previous students lesson. Intrigued, they tracked down the owner of the voice and called him in for an audition. The rest is musical history!

With two and a half years under his belt, over 1,300 performances, an Olivier Award , a Tony Award and a presidential performance, Michael Crawford achieved a lot as the first Phantom! He was one of the guests of honour – alongside some of the other biggest Phantom Of The Opera actors – at Phantom’s 30th anniversary gala back in 2016.


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Since then, he’s been acting on and off the stage, originating the role of the Wizard in Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice’s The Wizard Of Oz at the London Palladium in 2011; reprising 70s sit-com Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em in 2016 for a special sport relief charity episode and starring in the new West End musical The Go-Between at the Apollo Theatre in May 2016.

At the age of 77, he shows no signs of quitting the stage and last year appeared in the 60th anniversary performance of Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde as the voice of God.

Ben Forster

Phantom Of The Opera Actors: Ben Forster with his make-up artist Tanya

After winning  ITV’s reality TV competition Superstar in 2012, Ben Forster stepped up to don the infamous mask in 2016. His next turn in musical theatre wasn’t so lucky as in 2018, he came off a ladder during a performance of Elf The Musical, breaking his ankle, and was unable to finish the run.

All healed up now, he’s now showcasing his voice all around the world. Having performed his first UK solo show – Me, Myself & Musicals – at Theatre Royal Haymarket in June this year, he announced the formation of a new musical theatre supergroup The Cardinals alongside Carrie Hope Fletcher, Celinde Shoenmaker and another ex-Phantom, Ramin Karimloo. While they’ve yet to announce any official gigs past their surprise performance back in June and an appearance at BBC Proms In The Park in September, musical theatre fans are hanging on the edge of their seats.

Ben also recently announced he would be singing alongside other former Phantoms John Owen-Jones and Earl Carpenter as well as Kerry Ellis and Anna O’Byrne in Japan next March with The Voices Of The West End 2020.

Ramin Karimloo

Phantom Of The Opera Actors: Ramin Karimloo at West End LIVE 2016 (Photo: Pamela Raith)

At only 28, Ramin was the youngest ever Phantom on the West End. In another piece of Phantom history, in 2010 he originated the role of the Phantom in Love Never Dies – Andrew Lloyd Webber’s official sequel to The Phantom Of The Opera.

Since then, Ramin has popped up in musicals both sides of the pond, including Evita, Chess, Anastasia, Parade and the 2014 Broadway revival of Les Miserables, which gained him a Tony nomination. He reprised the role of the Phantom in May last year in a series of The Phantom Of The Opera concerts in Seoul alongside Anna O’Byrne.

In January this year, Ramin made the leap from the stage to the small screen when he was cast as c ardiothoracic surgeon Kian Madani in Holby City. He’s not hung up his musical boots yet though, and played Doctor Zhivago in the UK premiere of Doctor Zhivago The Musical at Cadogan Hall this September alongside Celinde Schoenmaker.

Peter Polycarpou

Phantom Of The Opera Actors: Tom Brooke as Alexander Litvinenko & Peter Polycarpou as Boris Bereszovsky in A Very Expensive Poison. Photo by Marc Brenner

Peter Polycarpou has had a long and varied career. He played the Phantom back in 1991, while he was also starring in BBC sitcom Birds Of A Feather. Since then, he’s been belting out showtunes all over the place, including Oklahoma!, The Secret Garden, Sweeny Todd, Guys And Dolls.

You’ll have caught him on the small screen too, as he’s appeared in British classics EastEnders, The Bill, Casualty, Holby City and Waking The Dead. He’s even done voice work for the James Bond 007: Bloodstone and Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows video games.

This year he appeared in a 3-episode arc of Sky Atlantic series Riviera as well as dusting off his vocal pipes to play Sancho in Man Of La Mancha opposite Kelsey Garmmer as Cerval for the English National Opera at the London Coliseum . He also played Boris Bereszovsky in the critically acclaimed A Very Expensive Poison at the Old Vic , a play from Lucy Prebble about the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko and the fall-out from his death.

John Owen-Jones

Phantom Of The Opera Actors: John Owen-Jones and Lucie Jones at West End LIVE 2019 (Photo: Pamela Raith)

Playing the masked anti-hero for 3 and a half years and nearly 1,400 performances, John Owen-Jones was the longest running West End Phantom, and one of the most prolific Phantom Of The Opera actors of all time. A Les Mis and Phantom veteran, John has been appearing in productions, concerts and musical celebrations of the two since the early noughties, and was a special guest at both of the shows’ 25th anniversary concert events.

As well as appearing in non-musical and musical theatre throughout the years, John has written and released several albums that include songs from musicals, hymns and traditional Welsh language songs. His recent albums include Unmasked, Rise and Spotlight, which came out this year. We were lucky enough to catch some of Spotlight in John’s  West End Live  performance this year.

After 33 years, The Phantom Of The Opera is still going strong at Her Majesty’s Theatre . Currently starring Josh Piterman, Kelly Mathieson, Danny Whitehead and Britt Lenting, you can book your tickets to the classic tale of romance and heartbreak below.

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first phantom of the opera cast

Discover the real history behind 'The Phantom of the Opera'

Learn about the myths and legends that inspired the classic musical.

Gillian Russo

The Phantom of the Opera is there, inside your... history book? He could be, or at least inside a book of legends. The story of a masked, disfigured Paris Opera House dweller who puts an ingenue under his musical spell sounds like the stuff of myths. But stories of a chandelier crash and a ghost at the opera house in Paris circulated long before The Phantom of the Opera , now set to close in February 2023, became the longest-running Broadway show and third-longest-running West End show in history.

Compoer   Andrew Lloyd Webber based the show on a 1910 novel of the same name by Gaston Leroux. And he based his novel on multiple spooky events in the Palais Garnier, the opera house where the  Phantom book and musical are set.

Some of the stories of people, places, and events that inspired  The Phantom of the Opera are true. Others are probably not, but they're fun legends that Leroux immortalized and Webber later made famous with his iconic score. While no one knows exactly how true these stories are, here's how they inspired Leroux to create the tale that haunts and thrills audiences over a century later, and how Webber made them his own.

Experience these tales now before  The Phantom of the Opera  closes on Broadway.

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Is  The Phantom of the Opera  based on a true story?

Yes and no — the plot of  The Phantom of the Opera  is fictional, but parts are inspired by true stories and legends. While everything in the musical did not actually happen, many elements of the show (and the novel it's based on) are taken from real stories of what happened at a Paris opera house. For example, there was actually a devastating chandelier accident, and there are many rumors of a ghostly presence haunting the theatre.

Read more below to find out what true (and ghost) stories inspired the record-breaking show, and see them on stage before The Phantom of the Opera  closes. 

The chandelier crash in Phantom  was inspired by a true event. 

The Act 1 finale, during which a one-ton chandelier comes crashing down onto the stage, is one of the most iconic moments in The Phantom of the Opera musical. It's thrilling to watch live, and it was inspired by a real tragedy at the Palais Garnier. Contrary to popular belief, though, it wasn't actually the chandelier that fell. On May 20, 1896, a performance of the opera Helle was underway when a counterweight, one of multiple which held the chandelier up, broke loose and fell through the ceiling.

One person was killed, and several others were injured. Forensic investigators later said a nearby electrical wire probably overheated and melted the steel cable holding up the counterweight, causing its fall. In The Phantom of the Opera book and musical, the Phantom cuts the whole chandelier loose during the curtain call of the opera Il Muto , in order to exact revenge on Christine for falling in love with Raoul instead of him. Luckily, no one in the musical dies from the crash.

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The Paris Opera House really has an underground lake.

Yes, the Palais Garnier actually has an underground lake! In the  Phantom musical and book, the lake is the centerpiece of the Phantom's lair. A feat of theatrical magic transforms the Broadway stage into the lake, on which the Phantom and Christine ride on a canoe amid the mist, as he sings the music of the night.

Legend goes that a faceless man (and some fish) once lived in the lake. Leroux heard the rumor and ran with it. In reality, the lake looks more like a sewer and had a much more practical purpose: keeping well and steam pump water away while the opera house foundation was being built. The only occupants of the "lake" as of late are a single white catfish (the opera house staff's unofficial pet) and French firefighters, who practice swimming in the dark there. We wonder if they've ever heard music coming from seemingly nowhere while doing so...

The Phantom is based on a real ghost story.

The many legends that inspired the Phantom are shrouded in as much mystery as the character himself. One story goes that in 1873, a stage fire destroyed the Paris Opera company's old venue, the Salle Le Peletier. (That part is true.) A ballerina died and her fiancé, a pianist, was disfigured. Legend has it that he retreated to the underground of the Palais Garnier, the company's new venue, and lived there until he died. Is he the same faceless man that supposedly lived in the lake? That's uncertain, but it's clear how these legends inspired the Phantom's appearance and living situation in Leroux's book.

Another rumor that inspired Leroux is the story of a ghost who haunts the Palais Garnier. Not only did the tale inspire him, but Leroux became obsessed with proving that the ghost was real. In the prologue to The Phantom of the Opera  novel, he talks about the mysterious disappearance of one Vicomte de Chagny, who disappeared to Canada for 15 years without a trace. When he finally returned to Paris, he immediately went to the Palais and asked for a free opera ticket.

Leroux goes on to claim that Chagny and his brother were fighting over Christine Daaé (a fictional character), insinuating that a "tragedy" happened between the two. Since the Vicomte is clearly the inspiration for Christine's childhood friend and lover, Vicomte Raoul de Chagny, in Leroux's novel, it appears he believed the brother is the ghost, who was killed in some sort of tussle and now haunts the shadowy corners of the Palais Garnier.

Though the ghost's presence is hearsay — or, according to some sources, the opera house ghost is actually a jilted old woman — Leroux firmly believed the ghost is real. He also claimed that a body was unearthed below the Palais Garnier, which belonged to the would-be ghost and proved his story. (The fact that the revolutionary French Commune government used the Palais basement to hold prisoners is a somewhat more likely explanation for the body.) After all that, it's almost ironic that the titular character of The Phantom of the Opera isn't an actual ghost, but he kept the name "The Phantom" for his otherworldly, ghostly presence.

The Phantom of the Opera

Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote Christine Daaé based on his real love story. 

Christine Daaé is a fully fictional character, but some researchers say she was inspired by Christina Nilsson, a Swedish soprano who enjoyed a 20-year career as an acclaimed international opera singer. Other accounts say that Christine was partly inspired by a ballerina named Nanine Dorival, though no one knows for sure. Dorival (along with an acquaintance of Leroux's named Madame la Baronne de Castelot-Barbezac) is also said to have inspired the character of Meg Giry, as Dorival and Giry's mothers are both boxkeepers.

What's certain is that Webber's real-life romance inspired how he'd adapt Christine's character for the musical 70 years later. When he was writing The Phantom of the Opera , Webber was married to Sarah Brightman, a classical soprano who he'd met and married after she starred in his musical Cats in the West End.

He wrote the role of Christine for Brightman, composing the character's songs to fit her vocal range. After she originated the role in the West End, Webber naturally wanted Brightman to do so on Broadway, too. The Actor's Equity union refused at first, saying he should cast an American actor and that international Broadway leads had to be major stars. But love conquered all — Webber insisted, and he came to a compromise with Equity that he'd cast an American lead in his next London production. Webber and Brightman eventually divorced, but her influence on the role remains forever.

The Phantom of the Opera love triangle comes from a legend. 

One of the inspirations for the main characters' love triangle is mentioned above, about how two brothers supposedly fought over a woman named Christine. There's another spooky story, though, that is said to have inspired Leroux. According to legend, a ballet dancer named Boismaison fell for the aforementioned  ballerina Nanine Dorival. However, a French sergeant, Monsieur Mauzurier, also loved her, and he took it upon himself to get Boismaison out of the picture.

Boismaison had willed his bones to the Paris Opera in the hopes that he'd stay near his lover even after he died. According to a now-debunked legend, they honored his wishes and held onto his bones, even using his skeleton as a prop in Le Freischütz , an opera by Carl Maria von Weber. Nevertheless, the fabled love triangle inspired that of Raoul, the Phantom, and Christine. With source material as bizarre as this, it's no wonder that The Phantom of the Opera 's love story became a Gothic horror for the ages.

Originally published on Sep 29, 2022 13:00

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Who has played The Phantom in 'The Phantom of the Opera' in London?

Discover some of the best actors to have previously played the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s The Phantom of the Opera .

Sophie Thomas

The Phantom of the Opera is the second-longest running musical in London. Millions of theatregoers have been transported to Paris Opera House via His Majesty's Theatre. We take a look back at some of the greatest actors to have previously played the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s The Phantom of the Opera . Discover more about “the music of the night” with The Phantom of the Opera in London.

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Jon Robyns took over as the Phantom on 3 Apr. 2023. He previously played Jean Valjean, Marius, and Enjolras in Les Miserables, King George III in Hamilton, Sir Galahad in Spamalot and Princeton and Rod in Avenue Q .

Earl Carpenter

Carpenter first played the Phantom from 2005 - 2007, later returning to the musical for limited runs from 2011 - 2013. Aside from The Phantom of the Opera , he's also played Javert in Les Miserables . Carpenter returns to Phantom from 13 February to 1 Apr. 2023.

Killian Donnelly

Donnelly first starred in The Phantom of the Opera in the early 2010s as Raoul. A decade later, Donelly returned to The Phantom of the Opera in the title role. He originally played the Phantom in the musical's UK tour, however the show was cancelled after 13 performances due to the pandemic.

Michael Crawford

Having originated the role of the Phantom at His Majesty’s Theatre, there’s a timeless quality to Michael Crawford’s performance. Crawford starred opposite Sarah Brightman as Christine Daae for two years, and won the Olivier for Best Actor in a Musical. After his London performances, he reprised the role on Broadway. As well as his Phantom credit, Crawford’s appeared in West End productions including The Woman in White and The Wizard of Oz .

Ramin Karimloo

Ramin Karimloo’s history with The Phantom of the Opera stretches over two decades, taking over the role of Raoul for a 12-month engagement. Leaving the company to play Enjolras in Les Miserables , Karimloo made his debut as the titular character in 2006, staying in the role until 2009. His West End career has seen him originate the Phantom in Love Never Dies , winning an Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical, as well as starring in the musical’s 25th anniversary production.

John Owen-Jones

Did you know that John Owen-Jones has played the Phantom for more performances than anyone in British history? After a continuous run of nearly 1,400 performances in the 2000s, he later reprised the role for a four month engagement in 2015. He’s also starred in Les Miserables as Jean Valjean and a concert production of Show Boat at the Royal Albert Hall.

Simon Bowman

After originating the role of Chris in Miss Saigon at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Bowman moved a few streets down the road to star in the operatic musical from September 1994. Taking over the role of Raoul, Bowman later made his Phantom debut in April 1996, appearing as part of the musical’s coveted 10th anniversary celebrations alongside original members Crawford and Sarah Brightman.

Peter Polycarpou

He’s starred in a number of London’s greatest musicals, including Miss Saigon , Oklahoma! and Sweeney Todd , but did you know that Peter Polycarpou has played the Phantom? Taking over the role in 1991, the British born Greek-Cypriot actor sung alongside Shona Lindsay in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. In recent years, Polycarpou has returned to operatic productions such as Man of La Mancha at the London Coliseum.

Ben Forster

After winning a nationwide televised competition to play Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar , Forster continued his theatre career by playing the Phantom in 2016. It’s not the first time he’s appeared in a Lloyd Webber musical, previously in Evita at the Dominion Theatre.

Canadian singer and songwriter Tim Howar is best known as one sixth of rock group Mike and the Mechanics , however he’s built up a theatre CV any budding actor would dream of. Making his London debut at the turn of the century, he’s performed in Peggy Sue Got Married , Tonight’s the Night and On The Town . In recent years, he’s starred in Rock of Ages as Stacee Jaxx and Chess at the London Coliseum. Even though he’s not played the Phantom for long, we’re enjoying his unique, raspy take on the role.

David Thaxton

Perhaps best known for his acclaimed performances in Les Miserables and Passion , David Thaxton has also played the Phantom in 2019. Like Ramin Karimloo, Thaxton’s no stranger to the characters in The Phantom of the Opera , having appeared in the original cast of Love Never Dies at the Adelphi Theatre.

Originally published on Jul 28, 2022 11:26

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Stalking the Role of an Operatic Stalker

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By Rob Weinert-Kendt

  • April 30, 2014

Say a wish out loud enough times, and it might come true. It worked for the Broadway baritone Norm Lewis, anyway. For years, when Mr. Lewis, the star of 2012’s “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” was asked what his dream roles would be, he often mentioned Harold Hill in “The Music Man” or Billy Bigelow in “Carousel.” Yet the role he invariably named was the title character in the long-running musical “ The Phantom of the Opera ,” and at last it has come his way. Mr. Lewis will don the cape and mask for a six-month run starting May 12.

“I think I just kept making a loud enough noise,” Mr. Lewis, 50, said over dinner recently at Sardi’s. “It was like, ‘O.K., fine, you can play the part. Shut up!’ ”

This isn’t just a personal milestone for the actor, though. Mr. Lewis will be the first African-American to play the Phantom on Broadway, and only the second ever (the television actor Robert Guillaume played the role briefly in 1990 in the Los Angeles production). Including Michael Crawford, who headlined the show’s opening at the Majestic Theater in 1988, 16 actors have tackled the role on Broadway; the fourth Phantom, Kevin Gray, happened to be half-Chinese, but otherwise the famous white mask has rested exclusively on white faces.

In an interview backstage at the theater, the show’s composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, marveled that only one other black actor has been cast in the role, through he said it was not for lack of interest. “It’s extraordinary — the one role in history you could really cast anybody you liked in is the Phantom,” Mr. Lloyd Webber conceded.

Still, he added, “I sat with Michael Jackson four or five times in this very building — he really wanted to play the role in the movie, but it never came to be.” A proposal to cast Sammy Davis Jr., who made the song “The Music of the Night” a staple of his concerts in the late 1980s, as the lead in the show’s Toronto production foundered when the singer was found to have throat cancer. (He died in 1990.)

The show’s director, Harold Prince dismisses the idea that casting Mr. Lewis is “in any way radical — I think we’ve passed that time,” he said in a phone interview. And the producer Cameron Mackintosh, speaking by phone from London, said, “We’re not casting Norm because he’s black, but because he’s good and right for the role.”

That he got a shot at the role at all, though, is a sign of change for the Broadway musical, which has evolved from creating black-only productions (“Dreamgirls,” “The Wiz,” “Once on This Island”) and shows with multicultural casts (“Rent,” “Ragtime”) to considering actors of all ethnicities for a range of roles previously reserved by default for white actors.

Mr. Lewis, who came to New York from his native Florida in the late 1980s, has had good fortune on both sides of this curve. He was a replacement in the role of John in “Miss Saigon,” a part that the producers decided to cast nontraditionally with black actors in the United States   although there’s nothing ethnically specific about it (the role was originally played by a white actor in London). Mr. Lewis also played Javert in the 2006 revival of “Les Misérables” and King Triton in “The Little Mermaid,” with a white actress, Sierra Boggess, as his daughter. (Ms. Boggess will play the young soprano Christine in “Phantom.”)

If he was blazing a trail, it took others to point it out to him, Mr. Lewis said.

“A lot of young men have looked at me as an inspiration, and I didn’t know that until recently — I was just some guy getting a job,” said Mr. Lewis, who will host a starry concert evening, “Black Stars of the Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live the Dream,” on June 23 at Carnegie Hall. What has especially moved his young admirers, he said, has been his work in roles that decades ago would have gone exclusively to whites. “They would see that I happened to be playing Javert or King Triton, and they would come up to me crying and saying, ‘You’re the reason why I’m singing,’ ” he said.

Race aside, the role of the Phantom is not one that just any actor can waltz into. Although his stage time is limited — 40 minutes of the two-and-a-half-hour show — the Phantom, as Mr. Prince put it, “must be a damned exhausting part.”

“You have to be at a high level of emotion from the moment you’re heard onstage — you’re heard before you’re seen — and you have to stay at that height the entire time you’re on,” he said. “You don’t get to move up to the emotions; you’re at the peak of them at all times.”

Mr. Lloyd Webber said that he was impressed by Mr. Lewis’s “authority” in the part, and that the actor’s pairing with Ms. Boggess, an experienced Christine who will join Mr. Lewis for the first four months of his run, could make for “a very erotic night.”

Mr. Mackintosh, who first hired Mr. Lewis for “Miss Saigon,” sounded a slight note of caution, however. While Mr. Lewis has immense charm and “great heart,” the part of the Phantom requires “real steel, and that’s not something Norm usually has to play,” he said. “The Phantom has been locked away in his dark cell for years, and you can’t do a George Clooney on that.”

With his creamy vocal timbre and tall leading-man looks, Mr. Lewis has an old-school star quality tempered by an unfailing nice-guy modesty; it’s not at all surprising that his television work has included a few soaps and a turn as a suave senator on “Scandal,” or that his favorite singers are crooners like Dean Martin and Johnny Mathis. Though it would be easy to view the role of the Phantom in a similarly romantic vein, he said that’s not how he’ll be approaching it.

“It’s a very melodramatic piece — so is ‘Les Miz,’ ” Mr. Lewis said. “All these shows have that heightened feel. But you can find some truth in that, if everybody in the cast is on the same page. And I’m coming at this from the very basic level of asking, who is this guy and why is he acting like a baby?”

In a phone interview, Ms. Boggess sounded similarly earnest about the love triangle at the heart of “Phantom.” She said the father-daughter bond she formed with Mr. Lewis for “Little Mermaid” (she still jokingly calls him “Daddy” offstage) was a “happy accident” for their “Phantom” run.

“The Phantom literally uses that,” Ms. Boggess said. “Christine’s own father is dead, and the way the Phantom gets in with her is by pretending he’s an angel her father has sent.” If that sounds a little creepy — well, this is “Phantom of the Opera.”

The high-profile casting of Mr. Lewis, a Tony nominee for “Porgy and Bess,” seems a departure for “Phantom” in another way. The show’s long run has been sustained chiefly by its own brand name rather than by a succession of star turns, à la “Chicago” (Mr. Lewis, like virtually every other breathing leading actor in the New York metropolitan area, put in a few months as Billy Flynn, in his case in 2004). The casting of Mr. Lewis and Ms. Boggess may therefore be viewed by some as an effort to give the show a shot in the arm, or to reach what Mr. Lloyd Webber called “the Afro-American community.”

But the idea, according to the show’s creative team, originated when the current Phantom, Hugh Panaro, decided not to renew his contract, and the show’s music supervisor, David Caddick, happened to be on a panel with Mr. Lewis at a music festival last fall. Asked by an audience member about the state of minority casting on Broadway, the actor repeated his Phantom wish. This time, at last, the wheels started turning.

To land the role, Mr. Lewis still had to audition. He calmed his nerves by drawing courage from those who paved the way for him.

“I stood on the Majestic stage and just took a deep breath, and I felt the souls of people who have passed — Paul Robeson, William Warfield — but also people who are still alive, like André De Shields and Larry Marshall and Ben Vereen, and especially Robert Guillaume, who played this role, saying: ‘Go for it — show these people what you got. That’s all you can give them.’ And I kind of relaxed after that.”

An article on May 4 about Norm Lewis, cast as Broadway’s first black Phantom of the Opera, misstated when he took over the role of John in “Miss Saigon.” He was the fifth replacement in the role on Broadway; he did not succeed Hinton Battle, who originated the part.

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Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) & Phantom of the Opera (1943) Double Feature

Perfectly blending Universal’s classic monster heritage with the science-fiction explosion of the 1950s, Creature from the Black Lagoon tells the mythical story of a dangerous half-human, half-fish creature lurking in the depths of the Amazon. After discovering a unique prehistoric claw fossil on an expedition deep in the jungle, scientists investigate its origins which lead them directly to a mysterious creature. Led by ichthyologist David Reed (Richard Carlson), the men try to capture the monster who has become obsessed with David’s assistant, Kay (Julia Adams). Originally released in 3D, this thrilling adventure inspired sequels, TV series and more that continue to strengthen the monster’s legacy to this day.

One of the most popular stories of all time, Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera is the legendary horror tale starring Claude Rains as the masked phantom of the Paris Opera House. Following a tragic accident that leaves him disfigured, crazed composer Erique Claudin transforms into a masked phantom who schemes to make beautiful young soprano Christine Dubois (Susanna Foster) the star of the opera and wreak revenge on those who stole his music. A heroic baritone (Nelson Eddy) tries to win the affections of Christine as he tracks down the disfigured “monster” who has begun murdering those who resist his mad demands. Inspired by the original 1925 silent version, this lavish Technicolor production remains one of the most unforgettable adaptations ever to be filmed.

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) & Phantom of the Opera (1943) Double Feature

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The Phantom of the Opera


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  1. The Phantom of the Opera (1986 musical)

    The musical opened in London's West End in 1986 and on Broadway in New York in 1988, in a production directed by Harold Prince and starring English classical soprano Sarah Brightman (Lloyd Webber's then-wife) as Christine Daaé, screen and stage star Michael Crawford as the Phantom, and international stage performer Steve Barton as Raoul.

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    Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical version of The Phantom of the Opera is one of the most successful pieces of entertainment of all time, ... The original cast recording was the first in British musical history to enter the charts at number one. ... The Phantom's make-up takes 2 hours to put on and 30 minutes to take off. The face is moisturised ...


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  17. The Phantom of the Opera (2004 film)

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  18. Discover the real history behind 'The Phantom of the Opera'

    The chandelier crash in Phantom was inspired by a true event. The Act 1 finale, during which a one-ton chandelier comes crashing down onto the stage, is one of the most iconic moments in The Phantom of the Opera musical. It's thrilling to watch live, and it was inspired by a real tragedy at the Palais Garnier.

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  21. The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall

    The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall is a 2011 British concert film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber 's 1986 musical The Phantom of the Opera, which in turn was based on the 1910 French novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux .

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  24. The Phantom of the Opera • Official Website

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