The Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera celebrates its 10th anniversary Jan. 26, a mark reached by the barest handful of shows, ever.
Moreover, Phantom has been selling 100 percent of its tickets until very recently, a genuinely unprecedented honor.
Playbill On-Line asked users: "How do you account for this popularity? Why does the musical about a disfigured genius who mesmerizes a pretty young soprano from catacombs beneath of Paris Opera continue to attract new audiences even as older fans return again and again?"
Here is the third part of the responses. Playbill On-Line thanks all who took the time to write.
The Phantom of the Opera has enthralled millions of people all over the world. This is due to the great story and the music. In my opinion, Phantom tops the lists of every category. The sets are great, the costumes are gorgeous, and the music is hypnotizing. The Phantom of the Opera is the highest form of musical theater. I live in New York and have watched as many people, adults included, walk into the famous Broadway houses wearing jeans and t-shirts. With Phantom, it is rare for this to occur. Respect for this majestic show goes almost without saying. I hope to see Phantom stay forever. With many shows closing and new ones popping out of the woodwork, Phantom still holds its own. It has been ten long years and the Phantom lives on.
Why does POTO continue to attract audiences? Passion.
The Phantom of the Opera is truly an all around fantastic show! Few others have so engrossing a plot, such wonderful music, and such raw emotion. It's the kind of production that you never get tired of seeing.
From Gregory S.J. Park:
Phantom of the Opera seems to go on and on, and many wonder why? It's like another shows that ceases to stop running, Cats. Why would someone want to keep seeing a show based on a story written by T.S. Eliot about cats? On the same regard, why would someone want to overly indulge themselves with a story about a disfigured genius written by Gaston Laroux? Simply put, we can all relate.
I worked as a tour guide for one of the touring companies of the show for about 2 months, and it was at this time that I witnessed Phantom for the first time. At first glance, I felt Phantom was lacking quite a bit. I don't know if it was anti-Andrew Lloyd Webber sentiment, the numerous stories within the stories, or the totally pointless number Masquerade, which basically was a cop out for a grand opening number for a second act and desired to be a part of the story, but truly never was in my opinion.
However, after viewing Phantom for the 4th time, something strange happened. I cried where in the finale, the Phantom expresses his defeated love for Christine. Why? I couldn't really figure it out until I could see the play from a distance.
Phantom is a piece that, although may not be intellectually stimulating, is quite a statement on the emotional and inner being of all people. I don't care who you are, whether you are ugly, gorgeous, successful, down on your luck, you can relate because the character of Erik is someone who we despise to be, but at the same time, in a unusual sort of way, all strive to emulate and step into his shoes. We all have something that inhibits us, Erik's is his face. We all want an identity, Erik has a lavish one ranging from extreme talent in the arts, sciences, and intellect. We all want emotion, Erik has his love and rage. As much as the characters' in the musical disclaim it, Erik is not a ghost or phantom. He is a living human being, flesh and blood, and his story reminds us that we are as well in a world where sometimes we forget.
From Kathy Layne:
In my opinion, the popularity of Phantom is due to the brilliance of the original creative team which developed the show. The music is astounding, the story heartrending, the set and costumes glorious and the staging superb. Also brilliant were the work of the original cast, especially Michael Crawford as Erik. While each actor adds his own touch to the character, all are emulating the original principals and thus the quality endures.
From Kerrin O'Kane:
The Phantom of the Opera is not just a play to a lot of us. The Phantom represents ourselves and how we are always getting put down, no one to love. The Phantom shows us that despite our failures we can move on with the memory of him. If the Phantom were alive today he'd be shocked at all of this success. Maybe stupid Christine would finally realize how perfect he is despite his face when she sees all of us phans who would have chosen him no problem and feel that his spirit is with us whenever we play, or sing.
From: Michael W. and Rose Marie Free, Lailua-Kona, Hawaii:
I will be coming all the way from Hawaii for the 10th Anniversary of Phantom-even in the cold weather! I'm bringing my husband and 9 year old daughter-who saw the show when she was 5 years old.
The show is three hours of a love story, that takes you out of reality for the three hours. You can forget about current events, shootings, deaths, work, etc. Once you enter the theater you are in a snug cocoon that transports you to another place and time. And of a love story that never ends.
Just my thoughts. Saw the show in LA with Michael Crawford-who is the best and true phantom. Saw it two other times in LA with Davis Gaines, 5 times in Honolulu with Chris Gronendaal. And I'll see it twice in New York. Aloha.
Considering the show is not very well written,it is not because of the lyrics or the music,which is rather annoyingly repetitive.however,the story of the phantom and his protegee has always fascinated audiences throughout the decades,its a universal beauty and the beast story.add to that hal princes staging,and lots of sets,and a chandelier for the unfortunates who love to go to broadway for visuals instead of performances,you have a long running show.also take into account that like les miz,beauty and the beast and miss saigon,it is a tourist friendly show,and the bunches of tickets bought by businesses to give to their clients for a night on the town,it equals the formula for long running success,unfortunately better shows such as into the woods,kiss of the spider woman,or passion are not given the "mass market publicity"to keep them running as long.
From Marc Levenson-Bay Shore, NY:
I think one of the main reasons that phantom has been around so long is that it has a good reputation. People hear about the show and listen to the music, and then they want to see it. The show has an unbelievably beautiful score and a decent plot to it. Add to that outstanding sets, and great special effects. The show is a wonderful experience and that's why the old fans keep returning and it keeps attracting new audiences.
From Harper Strom:
I believe that it is still around because its music its timeless and popular, the story is exciting and family-friendly, and it has the magic and special f/x to keep even the people who dislike theater intrigued. I know many people who have gone maybe 3 times, and will keep going until they can sit under the falling chandelier! It's things like that that keep people coming back.
From Leanna Hieber, Hamilton, Ohio :
My name is Leanna Hieber and I've been obsessed with Phantom for nearly 7 years. The year it won best musical I heard Music of the Night on the television and was entranced. It wasn't until I was a bit older that I realized just how beautiful the musical was. I began to have daydreams about the show all the time and I used to dream about me being on that stage, singing those songs.
It was Phantom that changed my life and truly made me want to pursue Theatre performance as a career. I'm now a freshman in the BFA acting program at my college. I found that my passions for the show I could transfer into energy as an actress. What makes Phantom so special is the eternal pursuit of love that every human being has in their soul. I pitied the Phantom from the very start and I began to love him dearly and I held this childish wish that somehow I could abate his pain. Andrew Lloyd Webber was able to give the Phantom a romance about him, through his haunting, seductive music I saw an intrinsic beauty in Erik that no movie or other version of Phantom ever was able to bring out in such a stirring way. The show has just enough spectacle but also keeps to the plot and lets the strength of Leroux's ingenious story shine through
with seamless differences from the original story that lets more focus fall upon the music and emotion of the leading characters. Not only was Phantom well written and well created but perfectly cast.
Michael Crawford, the most talented singer and actor I have ever admired, breaks my heart every time I listen to the music.
He took Webber's score and added a beauty no one has ever parallelled. But what makes the musical so wonderful is even without Crawford's genius and angelic voice, the show still stands as what I consider to be the best musical ever created. I can only hope that rumors of a movie are untrue. I would despise it if this beautiful creation were exposed to the ravages of hollywood commercialism. Art would be forsaken for what would sell. Beauty and simplicity would be sacrificed for ticket sales. It would be a disgrace to the profession of Theatre if Phantom of the Opera were to be altered, edited and 'fixed for the 90's' in order to make a movie. Leave this one for the stage, please.
I pray for the continuing success of a musical that changed my life and sets the standard for beauty and musical theatre at its best.
From alice (firstname.lastname@example.org):
Well, I love Phantom because of the music and the effects. When I first got the soundtrack I listened to it all day everyday for a few months. After that, it got a bit stale, but the show was still excellent to watch. It's really visually stunning. There are many shows which put me to sleep, but Phantom would never do that But it's not showing in Sydney anymore :(
I saw "phantom" back in 1995 when i took a trip to New York. The production was unbelievable and i knew from then on that I wanted to be on Broadway. As for your question of "why?", this is a show about something we all feel inside. The need for someone. Not only is it a show about one man's love for a woman. It is also about the inner need to be loved. It also returns ,somewhat, to the "ugly duckling" theory, that true beauty comes not from the outside, but from within.
From The Opera Ghost:
The reason for "Phantom's" longevity? A first-rate publicity team! Great praise and thanks are owed to the level-headed Marc Thibodeau, the always entertaining Bob Fennell, the indefatigable Michael Borowski, and the multi- talented Katherine Kriaris for all their hard work and dedication.
From Stephanie L. (A Phan for life):
I had the fortune to go last November b/c my marching band was participating in the Macy's Parade and seeing the show was part of our itinerary. Let's just say I was an instant convert. I could rant about Phantom for hours, but I won't bore you to death. I think Erik's (the Phantom's) story connects with so many people because he knew a life without love for so long, and then he finds a lonely young soprano who wishes for her Angel of Music. He didn't love her then, I think he just felt he could help out. Christine accepted his company readily, loved the Voice, and I think that was the beginning of Erik's downfall. Seeing that someone loved him for him (well, not really, but look at it from Erik's eyes) changed him, and he found than even he was not totally immune to love.
And so he went about trashing a whole bunch of stuff. He desperately wanted Christine to love him, so he dealt with his feelings the only way he knew how: killing people and driving others insane (i.e. Raoul being lovesick and just plain driving Christine crazy with fear). He loved her more than his music, more than life, but he just didn't know how to cope with it and express it. Maybe Christine understood that, or at pretended to try, but it wasn't enough. And, in the end, Erik lost everything because of his own unsure feelings. It had almost worked, but it was still for naught. I think that in some ways it was better for the musical to have an unhappy ending (for Erik), or it wouldn't connect with people as much as it could've the other way around. In most cases tragic love stories are the most heart-rending. Or, rather, tragic.
About attracting new audiences, it's still beyond me because I was forced to go. It came with the package. As for bringing back the old audiences again and again, I can certainly understand that. I'm thinking that so many people return again and again, because, unlike a favorite movie, you can't just sit down and watch it anytime one pleases. Sure, there are the cast recordings, but sometimes you just actually have to *see* it. The experience of seeing the wonderful Mr. O'Leary was electrifying, and I hope I can go and relive the magic again.
From Mark Dabrowski:
I think most of the reason The Phantom of the Opera has been so popular is because people like the great music. I also think the intense emotions you feel make it popular too.