Phantom to Become China's Longest-Running Musical

News   Phantom to Become China's Longest-Running Musical The Phantom of the Opera has yet to open in China, but it is already poised to become the country's longest-running musical.

The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which makes its silver-screen debut at Christmas, will begin performances in Shanghai Dec. 18. Set to play through March 5, 2005, the 97-performance run will make it China's longest-running musical. Another Lloyd Webber megahit, Cats, currently holds the record, having played 53 performances in the same city.

The Shanghai production is made possible by a $6.4 million investment by Shanghai Media and Entertainment Group, Shanghai Grand Theater and the Really Useful Group. In a statement, Shanghai Grand Theater manager Qian Shijin said, "The play will probably become the most expensive overseas performance ever staged in China. . . Musicals, including those from overseas, are always popular with Shanghai audiences." Shanghai has also hosted productions of The Sound of Music and Les Misérables.

While Phantom prepares for China, the Broadway production continues at the Majestic Theatre. In February, the musical became the second-longest running production in Broadway history. It has now played over 7,500 performances.

Billed as the most successful stage musical of all time, The Phantom of the Opera has worldwide ticket sales exceeding $3.2 billion. The Broadway staging of the London-originated show won seven 1988 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It has been seen by over 10 million people. Worldwide, Phantom has been seen by over 100 million people.

The Phantom of the Opera had its world premiere on October 9, 1986, at Her Majesty's Theatre in London. Based on the novel "Le Fantôme de l'Opéra" by Gaston Leroux, Phantom has music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics are by Charles Hart (with additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe). The book is by Richard Stilgoe and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Hal Prince directed in London and Manhattan.

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