A Majestic Milestone: Broadway's Phantom Turns 20

News   A Majestic Milestone: Broadway's Phantom Turns 20
 
The Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera celebrates its 20th anniversary at the Majestic Theatre Jan. 26, reaching a milestone that would have been unthinkable to the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Rodgers & Hammerstein.

Billed as "the most successful stage musical of all time," the Cameron Mackintosh/Really Useful Group, Inc. production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, directed by Harold Prince, will reach performance No. 8,318 (matinee) and 8,319 (evening). It is the first Broadway production ever to run 20 years.

Needless to say, as previously reported, Phantom is the longest-running show in Broadway history.

Babies born in 1988, when the show opened on Broadway following its 1986 West End world premiere, are old enough now to be auditioning for a chorus part in the Broadway show (or for its current long-running national tour or the 90-minute spin-off Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular).

The cast will celebrate the milestone at a private party thrown by the producers after the evening show.

On Sunday, Jan. 27, the day after the anniversary, the musical will be featured in a segment on the national edition of NBC's "Weekend Today." During the 9 AM (ET) hour, the segment will profile five Phantom company members who have been with the show all 20 years: cast member George Lee Andrews ("Monsieur André: — the only cast member to have been with the Broadway production for its entire run), usher Sylvia Bailey (an 82 year-old former dancer at The Roxy Theatre in New York in the 1940s), flyman Jack Farmer, make-up supervisor Thelma Pollard and stage doorman Wally Carroll. The producers report that Phantom has grossed over $675 million, making it the highest-grossing show in Broadway history. New York attendance has been 12.5 million, with many repeat customers. The show is a major tourist destination for playgoers who wish to enter a sumptuous theatrical never-land created by Prince and his designers. It took 14 years before the show's tickets were released at the half-price TKTS ticket booths in Manhattan.

The Phantom of the Opera won seven 1988 Tony Awards including Best Musical.

Its international grosses are estimated at over $5 billion.

The current North American tour is the longest-running touring production in U.S. history, having recently celebrated its 15th anniversary on Dec. 13, 2007, and having played over 6,000 performances.

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Based on the classic novel "Le Fantôme de L'Opéra" by Gaston Leroux, the musical "tells the story of a masked figure who lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, exercising a reign of terror over all who inhabit it. He falls madly in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine, and devotes himself to creating a new star by nurturing her extraordinary talents and by employing all of the devious methods at his command."

The current cast of The Phantom of the Opera includes Howard McGillin in the tile role with Jennifer Hope Wills as Christine and Tim Martin Gleason as Raoul. McGillin has performed the title role more than any other actor in the Broadway production (more than 2,000 times).

The musical also co-stars George Lee Andrews (Monsieur André; Andrews is the only cast member to have been with the Broadway production for the entire run), David Cryer (Monsieur Firmin), Patricia Phillips (Carlotta), Marilyn Caskey (Madame Giry), Wayne Hobbs (Piangi) and Heather McFadden (Meg Giry). At certain performances, Elizabeth Loyacano plays Christine.

Phantom has music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Charles Hart (with additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe), and book by Richard Stilgoe and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Production design is by the late Maria Björnson, lighting by Andrew Bridge and sound by Martin Levan. Musical staging and choreography is by Gillian Lynne. Orchestrations are by David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The performance schedule for The Phantom of the Opera is Monday and Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8 PM and Tuesday evenings at 7 PM with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM. For tickets, $26.25-$111.25, call Tele-charge at (212) 239-6200, visit www.telecharge.com or visit The Majestic Theatre box office, 247 W. 44th Street.

For more information, visit www.thephantomoftheopera.com.

Jennifer Hope Wills and Howard McGillin in <i>The Phantom of the Opera</i>, which celebrates its 20th anniversary on Broadway.
Jennifer Hope Wills and Howard McGillin in The Phantom of the Opera, which celebrates its 20th anniversary on Broadway. Photo by Joan Marcus
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