Broadway's Phantom of the Opera Turns 17 on Jan. 26

News   Broadway's Phantom of the Opera Turns 17 on Jan. 26 The Cameron Mackintosh/Really Useful Theatre Company, Inc. production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, directed by Harold Prince, celebrates its 17th anniversary on Broadway Jan. 26.
Hugh Panaro and Sandra Joseph in The Phantom of the Opera
Hugh Panaro and Sandra Joseph in The Phantom of the Opera Photo by Joan Marcus

It will play its 7,088th and 7,089th performances at The Majestic Theatre at 247 W. 44th Street and become one of only two productions in Broadway history (along with Mackintosh and Lloyd Webber's Cats) to reach that milestone.

Cast and crew will celebrate with a private party following the evening performance.

If the current movie version of the musical catches fire in its recently-expanded national release (it went wide Jan. 21), the Broadway production could very well get a boost in sales that will take it far beyond 17 years. (Mackintosh is expecting a long life for the show even without a kick from the movie.)

Even 17 years on, "the show's grosses continue to defy sales patterns for long-running shows," according to January announcement. "This year's annual Winter Sale (for performances in January and February) had an almost 100 percent increase over last year, bringing in an amazing $2.5 million in 2005, compared to $1.3 million in 2004."

* Billed as the most successful stage musical of all time, The Phantom of the Opera has worldwide ticket sales exceeding $3.2 billion and has been seen by over 100 million people.

The winner of seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, the New York production has been seen by over 10 million people and grossed over $560 million.

Phantom became the second longest-running show in Broadway history in February 2003 when it surpassed the 6,680 performance run of Les Misérables (now closed after 16 years), putting only one show ahead of it: Cats (also closed, after 18 years and 7,485 performances).

The Phantom of the Opera had its world premiere on Oct. 9, 1986 at Her Majesty's Theatre in London, winning every major British theatre award including the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards. The New York production opened on Jan. 26, 1988 with a then-record advance of $18 million. The musical went on to win seven 1988 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

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 company includes Hugh Panaro in the title role with Sandra Joseph as Christine and John Cudia as Raoul. The musical also co-stars Jeff Keller (Firmin), George Lee Andrews (André), Anne Runolfsson (Carlotta), Marilyn Caskey (Madame Giry), Larry Wayne Morbitt (Ubaldo) and Heather McFadden (Meg Giry). At certain performances, Julie Hanson plays Christine.

Lyrics are by Charles Hart (with additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe) and the book is by Richard Stilgoe and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The performance schedule 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, call Tele-charge at (212) 239-6200, visit www.telecharge.com or visit The Majestic Theatre box office (247 W. 44th Street).

Visit www.thephantomoftheopera.com.