Paul Stanley, the frontman for the rock band KISS, known for his black and white star makeup around one eye, donned a new mask May 25 when he debuted as The Phantom in Toronto's long-running The Phantom of the Opera.
Stanley, known since the 1970s for the wild, menacing, face-painted, leather-and-tights-clad rock group, which enjoyed a comeback in the 1990s, begins previews in a more "legit" realm, the Andrew Lloyd Webber mega-tuner, May 25 at the Pantages Theatre.
His official opening is June 2. The rocker will continue wearing the Phantom mask -- and all the gory makeup underneath -- through Aug. 1.
Stanley is a founding member of KISS, which released 31 recordings and sold 80 million albums. KISS recently completed the European, South American and Mexican stadium stands of its Psycho-Circus World Tour.
* Livent announced March 11 that its long-running Toronto production of The Phantom of the Opera -- seen by 7 million people -- would fade into the mist Sept. 26, when it plays its final performance after 10 years.
The historic, restored Pantages Theatre, the first jewel in the Livent crown of properties, will next host the Livent North American tour of Fosse for a six week engagement beginning Jan. 5, 2000.
Before the Sept. 26 shuttering, guest stars in the role of the Phantom were Rene Simard, a Quebec singer who has recorded 47 albums and toured the world. April 2-May 23, Stanley May 25-Aug. 1, and Jeff Hyslop, the Canadian Phantom vet who has played the role for more than 800 performances, Aug. 3-Sept. 26.
Phantom of the Opera celebrated its 4000th performances in Toronto April 16. The production began previews Sept. 13, 1989 and opened Sept. 20, 1989. It became the longest-running musical in Canadian theatre history.
The Pantages Theatre is located at 244 Victoria Street in downtown Toronto. For tickets, call (416) 872-2222.
A Livent spokesman told Playbill On-Line that after Phantom closes Sept. 26, it would take about a month to strike the complicated set from the theatre, and 6-8 weeks for general "housecleaning and some repairs" following the decade-long residency of the Lloyd Webber spectacle.
Phantom, which has apparently run its profitability course, represented good times for Livent, rocked in 1998 by financial mismanagement allegations, the ousting of its president and chairman and bankruptcy in Canada and the U.S.
Although staff was slashed in the fall of 1998, employees representing Livent's viable properties (like Ragtime, Fosse and Phantom) were kept on salary.
It takes about 150 people, on stage and behind the scenes and in the theatre, to mount Phantom every night. Livent estimates thousands of artists and technicians have worked the show since 1989.
The painstaking restoration of the Pantages Theatre on Yonge Street was done specifically for the Toronto sitdown of The Phantom of the Opera. It topped a decade that had seen the Ontario metropolis became a genuine tourist destination for theatregoers hungry for Broadway worthy musical theatre.
Markets throughout Ontario and the U.S., including Detroit, Cleveland and Buffalo, saw ads for Livent fare, and were familiar with the booming, sonorous, declamatory, "Buy Phantom By Phone!" radio and TV ads.
The boom of spectacle theatre in Toronto began, of course, with Cats, presented by Marlene Smith at the Elgin Theatre in the early 1980s, and continued throughout the 1980s and '90s with:
€ Les Miserables, presented in 1989, 1991 and 1992 by Livent's booking/producing competition, Ed and David Mirvish, at their Royal Alexandra Theatre.
€ Aspects of Love, a redesigned and newly directed (by Robin Phillips) version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Broadway box office flop (Livent at the Elgin).
€ Miss Saigon, for which the Mirvishes built the Princess of Wales Theatre.
€ Beauty and the Beast (Mirvishes at the Princess).
€ Show Boat (Livent at the Ford Center in North York, in metro Toronto).
€ Sunset Boulevard (Livent at the Ford Center).
€ Jane Eyre (Mirvishes at the Royal Alex).
€ Crazy for You (Mirvishes at the Royal Alex).
€ Tommy (Mirvishes at the Elgin).
€ Crazy for You (Mirvishes at the Royal Alex).
€ Ragtime (Livent at the Ford Center).
€ Rent (Mirvishes at the Royal Alex).
€ Coming in 2000: The Lion King at the Princess of Wales.
It was generally thought, however, that Phantom -- a West End and Broadway smash -- was the focal point of the major legit activity in Toronto, drawing attention to the community in general.
Studies by Tourism Toronto estimate that Phantom had a $1.4 billion (Cdn.) economic impact on the region. Livent said the Toronto and touring Canadian productions generated a combined box office of $562 million (Cdn.).
(There are also several active and respected nonprofit resident companies in Toronto, such as Canadian Stage Company and the Tarragon Theatre.)