The Phantom of the Opera, which became Broadway's longest-running show Jan. 9, and hit the 7,500-performance mark at the Jan. 21 matinee, celebrates yet another milestone Jan. 26.
The Harold Prince production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical about a lovesick, scarred genius living in the bowels of the Paris Opera House turns 18 years old Jan. 26. It opened on that date, following previews, in 1988.
In a weird coincidence, this year's milestone Jan. 9 show that topped the performance count of Lloyd Webber's Cats, fell on the same day as the 1988 first preview — Jan. 9.
For the record, the Jan. 9, 2006, performance was No. 7,486th time Phantom played the Majestic, surpassing Lloyd Webber's Cats to become the longest running show in Broadway history. For those counting, performance No. 8,000 will fall on April 4, 2007.
To celebrate the 18-year anniversary, the cast, crew and Majestic staffers will share cake and champagne on stage after the Jan. 26 performance. The only newcomer to the party Jan. 26 will be David Cryer, who recently replaced Tim Jerome as Monsieur Firmin. He comes direct from the national tour, which has employed him as the opera manager since it launched 13 years ago.
After 18 years, The Cameron Mackintosh/Really Useful Group, Inc. production of The Phantom of the Opera continues to play to near-capacity audiences in New York and is consistently among Broadway's highest-grossing shows. Its London production is still thriving, as well.
On Broadway, since its debut on Jan. 26, 1988, The Phantom of the Opera has grossed nearly $600 million, making it the highest-grossing show in Broadway history. Total attendance is at 11 million.
The current company includes Howard McGillin as the title character; Sandra Joseph as Christine; Tim Martin Gleason as Raoul; George Lee Andrews, an original cast member who has been with the show for the entire run, as opera manager Monsieur André; Anne Runolfsson as opera diva Carlotta; Marilyn Caskey, who previously played the role of Carlotta for several years, as mysterious ballet mistress Madame Giry (she is the only actress in the history of the Broadway production to have been contracted to play both principal roles); Larry Wayne Morbitt as tenor Piangi; Heather McFadden as Madame Giry's daughter, the young ballerina Meg; Mary Leigh Stahl (Wardrobe Mistress/Confidante); Richard Warren Pugh (Buquet).
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.
Based 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."
Phantom has music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and is directed by Harold Prince. Lyrics are by Charles Hart (with additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe) and the book is by Richard Stilgoe and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
The Phantom of the Opera has production design 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 regular 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 West 44th Street).