CAMERON MACKINTOSH AND THE REALLY USEFUL GROUP PRESENT
MAJESTIC THEATRE, NEW YORK
January 26, 1988 – april 16, 2023.
The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway | Celebrating 34 Years on Broadway
The longest-running show in Broadway history, Andrew Lloyd Webber ’s The Phantom of the Opera debuted in 1988, winning seven Tony Awards® including Best Musical.
Based on Gaston Leroux’s horror novel, it tells the enticing story of The Phantom, who haunts the stage of the Paris Opera and subsequently falls in love with a beautiful young soprano. Audiences are in for a thrilling night of spectacle and romance, accompanied by an unforgettable musical score.
The Phantom of the Opera Tickets
This lush romantic smash is Broadway’s longest-running show.
This show is closed.
Performances ended on Apr. 16, 2023.
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About the phantom of the opera on broadway, video & photos.
The longest-running show in Broadway history, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera debuted in 1988, winning seven Tony Awards® including Best Musical. Based on Gaston Leroux’s horror novel, it tells the enticing story of the Phantom, who haunts the stage of the Paris Opera and subsequently falls in love with a beautiful young soprano. Audiences are in for a thrilling night of spectacle and romance, accompanied by Broadway’s most unforgettable score.
Know Before You Go
Both romantic and scary, The Phantom of the Opera is a thrilling night of theater with grand emotions. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score, with its beloved signature song “Music of the Night,” sets the mood, but you may also find yourself humming the gorgeous period costumes and simple yet grand sets (even the famous chandelier, which probably falls slower than you’d expect, is a thrill).
"Phantom rules! It remains as fresh and spectacular as ever. Andrew Lloyd Webber's score has a visceral tug more than almost any score written in the past 20 years. Beautiful and romantic, I have to tip my hat: The Phantom of the Opera has aged divinely." NY1 Roma Torre
"Phantom still delivers the goods! Judging by sheer invention, emotional punch and onstage talent, the venerable blockbuster still beats out almost all of the shippersnappers currently on Broadway. Maria Bjornson's flamboyant gothic design and Harold Prince's fantastical staging still have the gleam of finely polished professionalism." The New York Times Jason Zinoman
Frequently Asked Questions
Grand opera and lush romance might not be their cup of tea. And the Phantom is a frightening guy. There are old-fashioned scare moments throughout—a dead corpse plunging from a noose, shrieking-for-their-lives ballerinas, that disfigured face... Such sights will either send your kid burying their face in your arm or thinking it’s the coolest show in town.
Cast & Creative
Ben Crawford was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona and received a BFA in Music Theatre from The University of Arizona. 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). Phantom marks Ben’s sixth Broadway show and he is beyond grateful to be able to jump into this iconic role. Ben has also starred in over twenty regional theatre productions ranging from Che in Evita (Studio Tenn), Starbuck in 110 in the Shade (Ford’s Theatre), Luther Billis in South Pacific (Ogunquit Playhouse), Frederick Barrett in Titanic (MUNY) and Jud Fry in Oklahoma! (Fox Theatre).
Emilie is making her Broadway debut in Phantom . Recent credits include Unknown Soldier (Playwrights Horizons); Oklahoma! (Broadway at Music Circus, Sacramento, CA); Merrily We Roll Along , Passing Strange , Me and My Girl , Violet , A Man of No Importance (University of Michigan); 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 CGF Talent and everyone who has supported her throughout the years.
John Riddle has been seen on Broadway in Frozen (Hans), The Visit (Young Anton) and on the national tour of Evita . Other favorites credits include Tony in West Side Story (Casa Mañana), Joe Hardy in Damn Yankees (PCLO), Eric in The Little Mermaid (Muny), Little Dancer (Kennedy Center) and My Paris (Long Wharf). He has appeared in the concert performances of The Secret Garden (Lincoln Center) and with the Cincinnati Pops, as well as performed his solo show Keep It Simple at Feinstein’s/54 Below.
Sara is honored to be joining the Phantom legacy! Former soloist with Miami City Ballet, Princess Grace Fellowship Award recipient for dance. Broadway/First National: An American in Paris (Lise Dassin). Other: Brigadoon (Jean, NYCC Encores!), A Chorus Line (Maggie, Encores!; Cassie, Cape Playhouse), Marie Dancing Still (5th Avenue, Seattle), Alien/Nation (Williamstown Theater Festival, Forest of Arden Co. Member). Film/TV: West Side Story (dir. Steven Spielberg), Fosse/Verdon, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel . Love to BRS/Gage and my family! F+A,NMW. For Nana.
Raquel Suarez Groen is thrilled to be making her Broadway debut with Phantom ! Off-Broadway: Roxanne Conti, iFigaro (90210)! (Duke Theater); Grand Dame in 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. Awards: Giulio Gari International Vocal Competition, Prize Winner; Florida Grand Opera YPO Competition, Prize Winner. Special thanks to my loving mom and dad, Tara Rubin Casting, Renée Fleming, Joan Lader, Diana and Bernard Uzan and my team at UIA!
Maree Johnson is thrilled to be returning to The Phantom of the Opera and making her Broadway debut! Born in Sydney and now living in Manhattan, Maree played Christine Daaé in Cameron Mackintosh’s Australian production. Other Australian credits include 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 Z orba (The Widow), Passion (Fosca, Barrymore Award nomination) and Myths & Hymns (Emily). As always, love and thanks to Jason, Audra and Helena.
Craig Bennett's Broadway credits include The Last Ship (Billy Thompson), A Tale of Two Cities (Jerry Cruncher), South Pacific (Thomas Hassinger) and 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.
Broadway: All My Sons , Phantom of the Opera (closing cast), Flying Over Sunset , School of Rock , Gettin ’ The Band Back Together , Les Miserables (Original Revival Cast), Threepenny Opera . Off-Broadway includes: Cyrano , Working (2008 revision), Grand Hotel (Encores!), Three Sisters . Regional credits includes Arena Stage, Dallas Theatre Center, Goodman Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, The Shakespeare Theatre Company, The Kennedy Center. Video Game: World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. Film/TV: Law & Order SVU (NBC), The Wire (HBO), Search Party (HBO), Blackout .
Heralded by The New York Times as an “ardent tenor,” Carlton Moe debuted at Carnegie Hall with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 2013. A native of Portland, Oregon, he has performed with such organizations as the Oregon Symphony, Walla Walla Symphony, Aspen Music Festival, Napa Music Festival, Savannah Voice Festival, Opera in Williamsburg, Charlottesville Symphony Society, and the Martina Arroyo Foundation. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Portland State University and a Master of Music degree from Manhattan School of Music, where he attended on a full scholarship.
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Guide to The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway
The Phantom of the Opera, Broadway's thrilling megamusical, has been haunting New York theater since the '80s
The Phantom of the Opera , Broadway's most reliable tourist magnet for 35 years, began haunting the New York City stage way back in 1988. It still draws folks who judge it one of the best Broadway shows , clamoring for cheap Broadway tickets . Back in 1988, it cleaned up at the Tony Awards with eight wins. The plot, borrowed from a 1910 potboiler by Gaston Leroux, tells of Christine Daaé, a naïve young soprano whose secretive voice teacher turns out to be a deformed musical genius who inhabits a candlelit lair beneath the Paris Opera House. (Although the Phantom is serial killer, extortionist, kidnapper and probable rapist, Christine and audiences are mysteriously drawn to him. Who doesn’t love a bad boy?) While the epic synth-rock chords of the title song may ground Phantom in the 1980s, the show’s Puccini-inflected airs are far grander than most of what one hears elsewhere on Broadway. And although there may not be much depth to the musical’s story (by Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe) or lyrics (mostly by Charles Hart), the production—directed by the legendary Hal Prince—has been carefully maintained and refurbished over the years, and remains a marvel of sumptuous surfaces.
What is The Phantom of the Opera ?
The Phantom of the Opera is a romantic musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Charles Hart (with additions from Richard Stilgoe). Lloyd Webber and Stilgoe also wrote the musical's book. It was directed by Hal Prince. Phantom began Broadway previews at the Majestic Theatre on January 9, 1988 and opened on January 26. The production continues to play at the Majestic. It is, by more than 3,000 performances, the longest-running show in Broadway history.
Where is The Phantom of the Opera playing?
The Phantom of the Opera plays at Majestic Theatre, located at 245 W 44th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue.
When is The Phantom of the Opera playing?
The Phantom of the Opera plays eight times a week, on the following schedule: Monday at 8pm; Wednesday at 8pm; Thursday at 2pm and 8pm; Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 2pm and 8pm; and Sunday at 5pm. A new schedule begins in 2023; be sure to check ahead of time for changes.
How do I get tickets to The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway?
Tickets to The Phantom of the Opera are sold through Broadway.com . You may also purchase them through through Telecharge or in person at the Majestic Theatre box office.
How long is The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway?
The running time of The Phantom of the Opera is 2 hours and 30 minutes, with one intermission.
When is The Phantom of the Opera closing?
The Phantom of the Opera is scheduled to end its record-breaking run at the Majestic Theatre with a charity performance on April 16, 2023.
Who is in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway?
The principal cast of The Phantom of the Opera currently includes Ben Crawford (the Phantom), Emilie Kouatchou (Christine), Julia Udine (Christine alternate), Paul Adam Schaefer (Raoul), Nehal Joshi (Monsieur André), Craig Bennett (Monsieur Firmin), Raquel Suarez Groen (Carlotta), Maree Johnson (Madame Giry), Carlton Moe (Piangi) and Sara Esty (Meg).
What awards has The Phantom of the Opera won?
1988 Tony Awards
• Best Musical • Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical - Michael Crawford • Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical - Judy Kaye • Best Direction of a Musical - Harold Prince • Best Scenic Design - Maria Björnson • Best Costume Design - Maria Björnson • Best Lighting Design - Andrew Bridge
1988 Drama Desk Awards
• Outstanding Actor in a Musical - Michael Crawford • Outstanding Director of a Musical - Harold Prince • Outstanding Music - Andrew Lloyd Webber • Outstanding Orchestrations - David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber • Outstanding Set Design - Maria Björnson • Outstanding Costume Design - Maria Björnson • Outstanding Lighting Design - Andrew Bridge
The Phantom of the Opera original London cast recording
Archive the phantom of the opera on broadway coverage.
The Phantom of the Opera is closing on Broadway
Broadway’s longest-running show will ends its run in February 2023
The Phantom of the Opera wants you to decorate his mask and win tickets to the show
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'Phantom of the Opera' takes a final Broadway bow after 13,981 performances
John Riddle as Raoul, Laird Mackintosh as the Phantom and Emilie Kouatchou as Christine, take a bow at the end of the final performance of the Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theater in New York City on April 16, 2023. Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images hide caption
John Riddle as Raoul, Laird Mackintosh as the Phantom and Emilie Kouatchou as Christine, take a bow at the end of the final performance of the Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theater in New York City on April 16, 2023.
On Sunday night, April 16, the curtain will fall on the longest-running show in Broadway history. The Phantom of the Opera , Andrew Lloyd Webber's mega hit musical, is closing after more than 35 years.
The stats are absolutely staggering – since it opened on Broadway in January of 1988, Phantom has played almost 14,000 performances to audiences of over 20 million, grossing over $1.3 billion. An estimated 6,500 people have been employed by the production – including over 400 actors – and it takes a cast, orchestra and crew of 125 to put on the show. On Monday, it will all be over.
"I got the gig of a lifetime. There's no other way to describe it," says Richard Poole, who's been a member of the ensemble, playing small roles, for almost 25 years. "It's given me the ability to have security, to plan ahead," says Poole. "It gives me discipline and structure in my life, and it gives me a constant way to maintain my craft."
Steve Barton (from left), Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman during the curtain call at the end of the premiere performance of The Phantom of the Opera on Jan. 26, 1988 at New York's Majestic Theatre. Ed Bailey/AP hide caption
Musician Joyce Hammann has been at the show even longer than Poole: "I'm concertmaster at Phantom of the Opera , which is first violin. And holy moly, I've been there 33 and a half years." Hammann is one of several members of the orchestra to have a "Phantom baby" – her son, Jackson just turned 18. "This has been his home away from home," she says. "People [here] have watched him grow up. He had the pleasure of sitting backstage during Saturday matinees sometimes when I wasn't able to get a babysitter."
The Phantom of the Opera , for those who've never seen it, is the story of a disfigured genius who haunts the Paris Opera House, pining away for a young soprano, Christine, who's in love with a dashing count. People die, a chandelier crashes to the stage, but love kinda triumphs ... all set to a sweeping romantic score.
25 Years Strong, 'Phantom Of The Opera' Kills And Kills Again
"I was very keen to write something which was a high romance at the time, having done Evita and having done Cats and various things, which ... didn't let me ... go in that direction at all," Lloyd Webber recalled in 2013, for the show's 25 th anniversary on Broadway. When he read Gaston Leroux's novel, he found the vehicle and collaborated with Richard Stilgoe and Charles Hart on the adaptation, directed by Hal Prince.
"I think the enduring appeal is because it's so romantic and because audiences escape into it," the late director said for the 25 th anniversary. "It has a world of its own. And whatever problems they have out on the street and in their daily lives, they come in here and it's like a little kid tripping on a fairy tale or something. Only this is a slightly dangerous one. But the point is, I think that they escape from reality for a couple of hours and in a romantic world."
'phantom of the opera': 20 years in the pit.
"The Phantom being misunderstood, I think is a big symbol for a lot of people," says Ben Crawford, who now has the distinction of being the last Phantom to haunt the Majestic Theatre on Broadway. [Ed. Note: Laird Mackintosh played the Phantom at the final performance on Sunday, April 16, filling in for Crawford who was ill.] Like other Phantoms before him, he has a special relationship with the Phans who've visited the show over and over. Some even send him their own artwork. "They saw that I had dinosaurs in my room," he says, "because when I play with my kids on FaceTime, my son loves dinosaurs, so they 3D printed this velociraptor that's, like, in a tuxedo with a phantom mask. And it came to my dressing room in a box with, like, holes in it so it could breathe."
But even the longest running show in Broadway history has to close at some point. Producer Cameron Mackintosh says Phantom was losing money, even before the pandemic. So, last September, he and Andrew Lloyd Webber announced a final date. "The following week, we were profitable for the first time," Mackintosh said in a phone interview from London. "So, you know, it was the right decision to take at the right time. And, you know, I think people's memory now is back with people saying Phantom of the Opera is one of the great successes of all time, which is what one always prays when a great show finishes."
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So, Phantom is going out with a bang – it's been selling out again. Music supervisor and conductor David Caddick has been around since the very beginning – he was music director for a staged reading on Andrew Lloyd Webber's estate back in 1984. He's conducting the final performances on Broadway. "I simply don't know how I'll feel on the morning of the 17th of April," Caddick says. "At the moment, it's about maintaining what we have: keeping the show vibrant. I still give notes to the actors, to the orchestra. We will look to maintain every element of the production through to the very last note."
There are plans for some surprises at the final curtain call. Actor Richard Poole says the closing is bittersweet. " I was retiring anyway," he says. "So, I have a very enviable spot in my life in the fact that I had something to go to, which was nothing!" For the other 124 people employed by The Phantom of the Opera , it's time to find a new gig.
The Phantom of the Opera marquee is shown above on April 13, 2023, at the Majestic Theater in New York City. The final performance will be on Sunday, April 16. Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images hide caption
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Performances of the longest-running show in Broadway history will resume at the city’s Majestic Theatre on October 22.
With over 40 million copies sold worldwide, The Phantom of the Opera Original Cast Recording is the best-selling cast recording of all time . Originally released in 1987, the original The Phantom Of the Opera cast recording was the first in British musical history to enter the charts at number one.
In September, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh announced complete casting for the New York return of The Phantom Of The Opera , the longest-running show in Broadway history. Directed by the late theater legend Harold Prince, Phantom is set to resume performances on Friday, October 22 at 8PM at The Majestic Theatre (245 West 44th Street) – the musical’s New York home for all 33 record-breaking years.
As much a part of the city landscape as the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, The Phantom Of The Opera remains an iconic New York City landmark. Tickets are on sale via Telecharge.com and in person at the theater’s box office .
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Cameron Mackintosh said, “Never in a million years could we have imagined that all of Broadway would be shuttered for nearly a year and a half, but I am thrilled that at last Phantom will be back where it belongs at the Majestic Theater from October 22nd in all its gorgeous splendor. It has been an extraordinarily difficult time for all the 125 people who bring Phantom to life every performance, so we are all overjoyed to be back rehearsing Broadway’s longest-running musical and eagerly looking forward to the chandelier rising again. In front of a full house in 5 weeks’ time. So let the audiences in and let the opera begin.”
Andrew Lloyd Webber added, “I am a proud Brit, but Broadway has always been my spiritual home. To have Phantom lead the effort to bring our beloved community back to the stage is a moment of immense pride for me. The only heartache is that Hal will not be with us, but when we all return for our first performance on October 22, I know his spirit will be there, cheering our cast, crew and orchestra on and welcoming audiences back to The Majestic Theatre.”
As previously announced, the complete Phantom Orchestra – Broadway’s largest – also returns, under the continued musical supervision of David Caddick with the musical’s original, lush orchestrations.
Broadway’s blockbuster phenomenon, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom Of The Opera , directed by the late Harold Prince, is one of the world’s all-time most successful entertainment properties. Produced by Cameron Mackintosh and The Really Useful Group, The Phantom Of The Opera has been the longest-running show in Broadway history for well over a decade, and its astounding longevity in New York and around the world is unprecedented. On Broadway alone, the musical has played an unheard of more than 13,000 performances to 19 million people at The Majestic Theatre (245 West 44th Street).
Buy or stream The Phantom Of The Opera – Original Cast Recording .
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You only have a few more opportunities to see the iconic chandelier drop on Broadway.
That’s because Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-breaking musical “Phantom of the Opera” is leaving the Great White Way when it officially closes on April 15, 2023.
Yes, after over 10,000 performances and seven Tony Awards, Christine (Emilie Kouatchou) and the masked Phantom (Ben Crawford) will take their final bows at the Majestic Theatre .
We know what you’re thinking, too.
With so few shows remaining on the legendary production’s calendar, which is the best one to go to?
That’s a great question and one we’d love to dive into.
At the time of publication, we found “Phantom of the Opera” Broadway tickets going for as low as $182 before fees on Vivid Seats.
Take that with a grain of salt, though — prices regularly fluctuate, and you may be able to snag a last-minute deal if you continually refresh the show’s calendar .
Now, here’s everything else you need to know about the long-running show with the mysterious masked man.
“Phantom of the Opera” 2022-23 Broadway schedule
A complete calendar including all upcoming show dates, start times and links to the cheapest tickets available can be found below.
(Note: The New York Post confirmed all above prices at the publication time. All prices are subject to fluctuation and include additional fees at checkout .)
Vivid Seats is a verified secondary market ticketing platform, and prices may be higher or lower than face value, depending on demand.
They offer a 100% buyer guarantee that states your transaction will be safe and secure and your tickets will be delivered prior to the event.
“Phantom of the Opera” cast
Although we don’t know much about the “Phantom” himself, here’s what we do know about the actors that play the lead roles onstage.
Ben Crawford (The Phantom) has appeared in five Broadway shows prior to his “Phantom” run. You may have also seen him in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Shrek The Musical,” “Big Fish,” “Les Misérables,” and “On the Twentieth Century.” He assumed the role of The Phantom on April 16, 2018, making the final show his five-year anniversary.
Emilie Kouatchou (Christine) is making her Broadway debut in “Phantom.” A University of Michigan graduate, she took over for Meghan Picerno on Jan. 25, 2022. Once cast, Kouatchou made history as the first Black actress to play Christine on Broadway.
Paul Adam Schaefer (Raoul) knows Phantom inside and out. As his bio alleges, “he has also played The Phantom more times than he can count.” Other notable screen credits include “FBI,” “Uncoupled” with Neil Patrick Harris, “Blacklist,” “Baker and the Beauty,” and “Law & Order,” to name just a few.
Raquel Suarez Groen (Carlotta) also made her Broadway debut with “Phantom.” In addition to many Off-Broadway productions, Groen is an accomplished Opera vocalist having won prizes at the Giulio Gari International Vocal Competition and Florida Grand Opera YPO Competition.
Maree Johnson (Madame Giry) rejoins the “Phantom” family after having played Madame Giry in the Sydney Harbour production of the show. In the past, she has also taken on the role of Christine in “Phantom” as well. Johnson received a Barrymore Award nomination for her work in “Passion.”
All cast members and their official bios can be found here .
Musicals on Broadway in 2023
After “Phantom” closes, here are five of the biggest shows that will be aiming to take its throne as Broadway’s most tenured.
• “The Lion King”
• “The Book of Mormon”
Looking for other Broadway shows? Check out everything you won’t want to miss on The Great White Way here .
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Stage: 'Phantom of the Opera'
By Frank Rich
- Jan. 27, 1988
IT may be possible to have a terrible time at ''The Phantom of the Opera,'' but you'll have to work at it. Only a terminal prig would let the avalanche of pre-opening publicity poison his enjoyment of this show, which usually wants nothing more than to shower the audience with fantasy and fun, and which often succeeds, at any price.
It would be equally ludicrous, however - and an invitation to severe disappointment - to let the hype kindle the hope that ''Phantom'' is a credible heir to the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals that haunt both Andrew Lloyd Webber's creative aspirations and the Majestic Theater as persistently as the evening's title character does. What one finds instead is a characteristic Lloyd Webber project - long on pop professionalism and melody, impoverished of artistic personality and passion - that the director Harold Prince, the designer Maria Bjornson and the mesmerizing actor Michael Crawford have elevated quite literally to the roof. ''The Phantom of the Opera'' is as much a victory of dynamic stagecraft over musical kitsch as it is a triumph of merchandising uber alles.
As you've no doubt heard, ''Phantom'' is Mr. Lloyd Webber's first sustained effort at writing an old-fashioned romance between people instead of cats or trains. The putative lovers are the Paris Opera House phantom (Mr. Crawford) and a chorus singer named Christine Daae (Sarah Brightman). But Mr. Crawford's moving portrayal of the hero notwithstanding, the show's most persuasive love story is Mr. Prince's and Ms. Bjornson's unabashed crush on the theater itself, from footlights to dressing rooms, from flies to trap doors.
A gothic backstage melodrama, ''Phantom'' taps right into the obsessions of the designer and the director. At the Royal Shakespeare Company, Ms. Bjornson was a wizard of darkness, monochromatic palettes and mysterious grand staircases. Mr. Prince, a prince of darkness in his own right, is the master of the towering bridge (''Evita''), the labyrinthine inferno (''Sweeney Todd'') and the musical-within-the-musical (''Follies''). In ''Phantom,'' the creative personalities of these two artists merge with a literal lightning flash at the opening coup de theatre, in which the auditorium is transformed from gray decrepitude to the gold-and-crystal Second Empire glory of the Paris Opera House. Though the sequence retreads the famous Ziegfeld palace metamorphosis in ''Follies,'' Ms. Bjornson's magical eye has allowed Mr. Prince to reinvent it, with electrifying showmanship.
The physical production, Andrew Bridge's velvety lighting included, is a tour de force throughout - as extravagant of imagination as of budget. Ms. Bjornson drapes the stage with layers of Victorian theatrical curtains - heavily tasseled front curtains, fire curtains, backdrops of all antiquated styles - and then constantly shuffles their configurations so we may view the opera house's stage from the perspective of its audience, the performers or the wings. For an added lift, we visit the opera-house roof, with its cloud-swept view of a twinkling late-night Paris, and the subterreanean lake where the Phantom travels by gondola to a baroque secret lair that could pass for the lobby of Grauman's Chinese Theater. The lake, awash in dry-ice fog and illuminated by dozens of candelabra, is a masterpiece of campy phallic Hollywood iconography - it's Liberace's vision of hell.
There are horror-movie special effects, too, each elegantly staged and unerringly paced by Mr. Prince. The imagery is so voluptuous that one can happily overlook the fact that the book (by the composer and Richard Stilgoe) contains only slightly more plot than ''Cats,'' with scant tension or suspense. This ''Phantom,'' more skeletal but not briefer than other adaptations of the 1911 Gaston Leroux novel, is simply a beast-meets-beauty, loses-beauty story, attenuated by the digressions of disposable secondary characters (the liveliest being Judy Kaye's oft-humiliated diva) and by Mr. Lloyd Webber's unchecked penchant for forcing the show to cool its heels while he hawks his wares.
In Act II, the heroine travels to her father's grave for no reason other than to sell an extraneous ballad whose tepid greeting-card sentiments (''Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again'') dispel the evening's smoldering mood. The musical's dramatic thrust is further slowed by three self-indulgently windy opera parodies -in which the sophisticated tongue-in-cheek wit of Ms. Bjornson's sumptuous period sets and costumes is in no way matched by Gillian Lynne's repetitive, presumably satirical ballet choreography or by Mr. Lloyd Webber's tiresome collegiate jokes at the expense of such less than riotous targets as Meyerbeer.
Aside from the stunts and set changes, the evening's histrionic peaks are Mr. Crawford's entrances - one of which is the slender excuse for Ms. Bjornson's most dazzling display of Technicolor splendor, the masked ball (''Masquerade'') that opens Act II. Mr. Crawford's appearances are eagerly anticipated, not because he's really scary but because his acting gives ''Phantom'' most of what emotional heat it has. His face obscured by a half-mask - no minor impediment - Mr. Crawford uses a booming, expressive voice and sensuous hands to convey his desire for Christine. His Act I declaration of love, ''The Music of the Night'' - in which the Phantom calls on his musical prowess to bewitch the heroine -proves as much a rape as a seduction. Stripped of the mask an act later to wither into a crestfallen, sweaty, cadaverous misfit, he makes a pitiful sight while clutching his beloved's discarded wedding veil. Those who visit the Majestic expecting only to applaud a chandelier - or who have 20-year-old impressions of Mr. Crawford as the lightweight screen juvenile of ''The Knack'' and ''Hello, Dolly!'' - will be stunned by the force of his Phantom.
It's deflating that the other constituents of the story's love triangle don't reciprocate his romantic or sexual energy. The icily attractive Ms. Brightman possesses a lush soprano by Broadway standards (at least as amplified), but reveals little competence as an actress. After months of playing ''Phantom'' in London, she still simulates fear and affection alike by screwing her face into bug-eyed, chipmunk-cheeked poses more appropriate to the Lon Chaney film version. Steve Barton, as the Vicomte who lures her from the beast, is an affable professional escort with unconvincingly bright hair.
Thanks to the uniform strength of the voices - and the soaring, Robert Russell Bennett-style orchestrations - Mr. Lloyd Webber's music is given every chance to impress. There are some lovely tunes, arguably his best yet, and, as always, they are recycled endlessly: if you don't leave the theater humming the songs, you've got a hearing disability. But the banal lyrics, by Charles Hart and Mr. Stilgoe, prevent the score's prettiest music from taking wing. The melodies don't find shape as theater songs that might touch us by giving voice to the feelings or actions of specific characters.
Instead, we get numbing, interchangeable pseudo-Hammersteinisms like ''Say you'll love me every waking moment'' or ''Think of me, think of me fondly, when we say goodbye.'' With the exception of ''Music of the Night'' - which seems to express from its author's gut a desperate longing for acceptance - Mr. Lloyd Webber has again written a score so generic that most of the songs could be reordered and redistributed among the characters (indeed, among other Lloyd Webber musicals) without altering the show's story or meaning. The one attempt at highbrow composing, a noisy and gratuitous septet called ''Prima Donna,'' is unlikely to take a place beside the similar Broadway operatics of Bernstein, Sondheim or Loesser.
Yet for now, if not forever, Mr. Lloyd Webber is a genuine phenomenon - not an invention of the press or ticket scalpers - and ''Phantom'' is worth seeing not only for its punch as high-gloss entertainment but also as a fascinating key to what the phenomenon is about. Mr. Lloyd Webber's esthetic has never been more baldly stated than in this show, which favors the decorative trappings of art over the troublesome substance of culture and finds more eroticism in rococo opulence and conspicuous consumption than in love or sex. Mr. Lloyd Webber is a creature, perhaps even a prisoner, of his time; with ''The Phantom of the Opera,'' he remakes La Belle Epoque in the image of our own Gilded Age. If by any chance this musical doesn't prove Mr. Lloyd Webber's most popular, it won't be his fault, but another sign that times are changing and that our boom era, like the opera house's chandelier, is poised to go bust. Mask Appeal THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, adapted from the novel by Gaston Leroux; music by Andrew Lloyd Webber; lyrics by Charles Hart; additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe; book by Mr. Stilgoe and Mr. Lloyd Webber; musical staging and choreography by Gillian Lynne; directed by Harold Prince; production design by Maria Bjornson; lighting by Andrew Bridge; sound by Martin Levan; musical supervision and direction by David Caddick; orchestrations by David Cullen and Mr. Lloyd Webber. Presented by Cameron Mackintosh and
The Really Useful Theater Company Inc. At the Majestic Theater, 247 West 44th
Street. The Phantom of the Opera...Michael Crawford Christine Daae...Sarah Brightman Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny...Steve Barton Carlotta Guidicelli...Judy Kaye M. Andre...Cris Groenendaal M. Firmin...Nicholas Wyman Mme. Giry...Leila Martin Ubaldo Piangi...David Romano Meg Giry...Elisa Heinsohn M. Reyer...Peter Kevoian Auctioneer...Richard Warren Pugh Porter/Marksman...Jeff Keller M. Lefevre...Kenneth Waller Joseph Buquet...Philip Steele Don Attilio...George Lee Andrews Solo Dancer...Luis Perez Slave Master...Gregory Mitchell Flunky/Stagehand...Barry McNabb Policeman...Charles Rule Page...Olga Talyn Porter/Fireman...William Scott Brown Page...Candace Rogers-Adler Wardrobe Mistress/Confidante Mary Leigh Stahl Princess...Rebecca Luker Mme. Firmin...Beth McVey Innkeeper's Wife...Jan Horvath The Ballet Chorus of the Opera Populaire Irene Cho, Nicole Fosse, Lisa Lockwood, Lori MacPherson, Dodie Petit and Catherine Ulissey
Discover the real history behind 'The Phantom of the Opera'
Learn about the myths and legends that inspired the classic musical.
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.
Get The Phantom of the Opera tickets now.
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.
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.
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
Of the opera.
Saturday, October 21, 2023, 7:30 PM EST
2 Hours No Intermission
Hear the original 1925 silent horror film with live orchestra that inspired the hit Broadway musical. The masked Phantom obsessively lures the brilliant understudy Christine Daae at the Paris Opera to his clandestine dwelling. Come dressed in your favorite Halloween Costume!
Craig Safan – Phantom of the Opera 1925 Silent Film starring Lon Chaney
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Chorusmaster Dr. Kathleen Shannon has served the Choral Art as a conductor and pedagogue for more than 30 years. Read Bio >>
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New York Daily News
Andrew Lloyd Webber asked priests to remove poltergeist from his London home
Posted: January 4, 2024 | Last updated: January 4, 2024
NEW YORK — Andrew Lloyd Webber may know a thing or two about phantoms on Broadway, but he sought help from a higher power to remove a poltergeist from his home.
The acclaimed composer behind the record-breaking musical “Phantom of the Opera” has revealed that priests put an end to the paranormal activity at a property he owned in the tony Belgravia neighborhood of London.
In a new interview with The Telegraph, Lloyd Webber was asked whether any of the theaters he owns are haunted . But while he admitted to never seeing a ghost in his work life, his home presented something otherworldly.
“I did have a house in Eaton Square which had a poltergeist,” the Oscar, Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award winner shared. “It would do things like take theatre scripts and put them in a neat pile in some obscure room.”
“In the end we had to get a priest to come and bless it, and it left,” he revealed.
According to parapsychological researcher Dr. Neil Dagnall of Manchester Metropolitan University, a poltergeist is “a type of ghost or supernatural entity which are responsible for psychological and physical disturbance.”
“The Phantom of the Opera,” considered Lloyd Webber’s greatest work to date, centers on a disfigured musical genius who haunts the Paris Opera House. Based on Gaston Leroux’s classic 1910 novel of the same name, the show first opened on the West End in 1986.
In April 2023, the Tony Award-winning production ended its history-making 35-year run at Broadway’s Majestic Theatre after 13,981 performances.
©2024 New York Daily News. Visit nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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Andrew Lloyd Webber asked priests to remove poltergeist from his London home
Sunday, 07 Jan 2024
Andrew Lloyd Webber (pic) may know a thing or two about phantoms on Broadway, but he sought help from a higher power to remove a poltergeist from his home.
The acclaimed composer behind the record-breaking musical Phantom Of The Opera has revealed that priests put an end to the paranormal activity at a property he owned in the tony Belgravia neighbourhood of London.
In a new interview with The Telegraph, Lloyd Webber was asked whether any of the theatres he owns are haunted. But while he admitted to never seeing a ghost in his work life, his home presented something otherworldly.
“I did have a house in Eaton Square which had a poltergeist,” the Oscar, Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award winner shared. “It would do things like take theatre scripts and put them in a neat pile in some obscure room.”
“In the end we had to get a priest to come and bless it, and it left,” he revealed.
According to parapsychological researcher Dr Neil Dagnall of Manchester Metropolitan University, a poltergeist is “a type of ghost or supernatural entity which are responsible for psychological and physical disturbance.”
The Phantom Of The Opera, considered Lloyd Webber’s greatest work to date, centres on a disfigured musical genius who haunts the Paris Opera House. Based on Gaston Leroux’s classic 1910 novel of the same name, the show first opened on the West End in 1986.
In April 2023, the Tony Award-winning production ended its history-making 35-year run at Broadway’s Majestic Theatre after 13,981 performances. – New York Daily News/Tribune News Service
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