Producers Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh announced July 16 that they will take the unusual step of closing down the longest-running show in Broadway history for four performances: Sunday Aug. 24 through Wednesday Aug. 27. Performances will resume the evening of Aug. 28.
A new Digital Sound System will be installed "to bring the production's sound design technology into the 21st century," according to an announcement. The producers are investing an estimated $750,000 into the sound system.
The installation of the equipment suggests the producers have no plans to exit Broadway anytime soon. The show, directed by Harold Prince, is now in its 21st year.
The move follows the May installation of the same Digital Sound System into the London production.
The final performance before the change-over will be Saturday evening, Aug. 23 at 8 PM. Beginning Sunday Aug. 24, the crew will begin four straight days of work on the sound. Composer/producer Lloyd Webber stated, "The most recent productions of The Phantom of the Opera around the world from Vegas to China have had the most fantastic sound systems. Installing a new system in the London production earlier this year brilliantly brought the flagship production into the 21st century. New York will now follow, getting the newest and best of them all to ensure state-of-the-art sound for our audiences and enhance one of the biggest orchestras on Broadway."
Producer Mackintosh stated, "Phantom had ground-breaking sound when it opened in New York in 1988 and Andrew and I have wanted for some time to give our sound system a complete update so that audiences could enjoy the most exciting theatrical sound on Broadway."
Designed by Olivier Award winner Mick Potter, the new surround sound system will consist of over six miles of cable, an incredible 155 speakers placed throughout the auditorium and a digital sound desk "that will make the 28-member orchestra and 36 strong cast sound more powerful and clear than ever before."
The digital system will up the number of microphones used in the show from 58 to 76, and The Phantom himself will have three dedicated microphones. The work involved "will include dismantling and ultimately reassembling the musical's opulent, golden proscenium of iconic angels and satyrs."
Potter won the 2005 Olivier Award for Best Sound Design for The Woman in White. Additional West End/Broadway credits include Saturday Night Fever, Starlight Express, Jesus Christ Superstar, Whistle Down the Wind and Evita. His new sound design for Phantom was installed in Her Majesty's Theatre in the West End in May 2008. Following Las Vegas and London, New York will be his third Phantom production.
The Phantom of the Opera currently stars John Cudia in the title role with Jennifer Hope Wills as Christine and Tim Martin Gleason as Raoul. On July 28 Howard McGillin, who at over 2,000 times has played The Phantom on Broadway more than any other performer, will return to the title role.
The regular performance schedule for the show 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 go online to telecharge.com, call (212) 239-6200 or visit The Majestic Theatre box office (247 West 44th Street).