Warner Brothers is seeking a director and star for its forthcoming film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera. Lloyd Webber's spokesman has confirmed that Antonio Banderas (Che in the film of Evita) is the front-runner to play the Phantom, and Banderas has told film magazines that he's the man. But Warner Brothers says no contract has yet been signed.
Who do you think would be best to play the Phantom? Please send your proposed casting choice to Managing Editor Robert Viagas. You must include at least two sentences on why you think your candidate is best. E mails with just a name will not be posted.
Here are the results so far. Playbill On-Line thanks all who take the time to write.
From Dave Rudland:
There is no doubt in my mind that Michael Crawford should play the part of the Phantom in the upcoming movie. The man created the role and his voice is the Phantom. I have never seen him play the role, but have seen him sing the songs live and there is a compassion and strength that he adds to the songs that I have not heard from any other actor that I've seen in that role
From Rod Cathey (email@example.com):
I think that Kevin Kline is the best choice to play the Phantom. He is an A list movie star and has proven musical abilities.
From PKEWING (firstname.lastname@example.org):
The only person really capable of doing justice to the role of Phantom is Davis Gaines - when Andrew L.W. heard him sing he said "He is Phantom!" Davis is called superman because he has a voice of Steel - he played Phantom for 5 1/2 years so more people have seen him as Phantom therefore he has fans everywhere waiting to see him again as The Phantom - my vote is for Davis Gaines to star in the Movie.
I can't believe that the thought of not having Michael Crawford has passed their minds! Well, at least Antonio is better then Travolta. . .
From Edmound Fitzpatrick:
Mandy Patinkin should play the role of the Phantom. He has more energy on the screen than most other actors could dream of. He is the star of stage, TV and film. He has all the right elements and the right age range.
From Diane M. Flogerzi:
I am writing to you as a member of the Michael Crawford Phantom Movie Campaign. Please visit our web site at http://www.av.qnet.com/~smf/phantom.htm .
When the possibility of a film version of this musical was first discussed, Mr. Crawford was promised the role and continued to be mentioned in connection with the movie throughout the numerous delays. Now, some ten years after first being proposed, the powers-that-be, namely Warner Brothers, who own the film rights, and The Really Useful Group, are rumored to be courting Antonio Banderas for the role of the Phantom. We the members of the above campaign feel this would be a huge injustice, not only to Michael Crawford, but in addition, to the musical itself. To keep from compromising the work anymore than absolutely necessary, we think it is imperative to cast Michael Crawford in the role of "The Phantom".
Michael Crawford, the man who epitomized the role. Who would not pay to see a lasting performance by the legend himself?? Why do the PR people for the movie not consider how many people are already hooked on the story because of this man?? Everyone knows the story, and there's no reason to search for a "hunk" in order to bring audiences-- people will come anyways, as long as the casting makes sense!!!
My main belief is that a film version should not even be made; however, since they seem intent upon doing so despite protests from the millions of supporters of the musical worldwide, my view is that the role should at least be OFFERED to Michael Crawford, who CREATED the role in the hearts of many. He has expressed interest in doing the role once more for the movie, and is back in good physical condition.
From Marcia Rovins:
I think, without question, that Michael Crawford should be the star of the Phantom movie. I don't understand the thinking behind getting a bigger star, covering his face and possibly dubbing his voice. Let them use "movie stars" in the roles of Raoul and Christine. Michael Crawford IS the Phantom!
ANTONIO BANDERAS!! Yes, he is good in Evita - but a southern accent just ain't good for PHANTOM OF THE OPERA! Cast Michael Crawford as the Phantom! He is the only true Phantom - or cast one of the 9 actors to play it on B'Way! Just I BEG Warner Brothers DON'T CAST ANTONIO BANDERAS! But if I could choose the 3 leads. . .I'd cast Chuck Wagner or Michael Crawford as the Phantom. . .some-body of the same expertise as Sarah Brightman as Christine and either Alan Campbell or the original Raoul - Steve Barton. (hey, Barton PLAYED the Phantom on B'Way - why not cast him??). In conclusion - let Andrew Lloyd Webber pick - he chose Crawford, Crawford won the TONY and rave reviews. . . see a connection? Just don't cast Lloyd Webber's current wife as Christine! (yes it worked once.....!)
Without a doubt the best and only real choice is Michael Crawford. For ten years his voice has been synonymous with the Phantom's. A Spanish accented Phantom? I don't think so.
Having seen Michael in that role on stage, I can attest to his greatness! Age should not be a factor in consideration for the role, but even so, the Phantom is a father-figure who's face is at all times covered.
I believe that only by bringing in Crawford, who originated the role and truly put HIS heart and soul into "Erik", can such a movie musical succeed. I hope all The Powers That Be think long and hard before casting someone else in the role!
From Patrick Elkins, University of Michigan:
I think that whoever can play the role true to the writing and still have draw to the average American should be cast. Many Phans have stated that Michael Crawford or some other Broadway Phantom should play the role. That would be great but the role needs to be filled by someone which can come across on film. Furthermore, America likes stars and none of the Broadway individuals who have fill those shoes have enough name appeal to draw the public in. Phantom is a popular show, but I'm not sure if the title alone will be enough to get the crowds it needs to be a success and what the movie musical genre needs right now is a success. And as they say in 1776, "If we can not win, why bother to begin." Another costly, unpopular movie musical could kill the genre. So who ever has the ability to fill the role and name enough to carry the show should play the Phantom. Too bad I can't think of any.
From Lynn Wegrzynek (Pittsburgh, PA):
There should be no other choice for the lead role in Phantom of the Opera but THE PHANTOM-- Michael Crawford!!!!!!!!!
Michael made PTO what it is today. Sir Andrew has only Michael Crawford to thank for the show's success. Phantom of the Opera movie would be like The King and I without Yul Brynner.
Michael Crawford is the only appropriate choice!!. There is no excuse for saying he's too old! Don't they realize he'd be in heavy makeup and mask anyway? Well, DUH! Movie versions of musicals rarely work except when they have enough sense to get the people who've lived the roles in the first place! 1776 is the prime example of the best film translation of a musical. I mean, does anyone remember the movie version of Man of La Mancha?
From Lee Ann Moltzen:
Hi! I would like to cast my vote for Michael Crawford as the Phantom in the movie. To most Phantom fans, "Phantom of the Opera" and "Michael Crawford" go hand in hand - not only because he originated the role, but because he made it his. With the PBS special and the concert tour, Mr. Crawford is becoming increasingly more popular - people just can't seem to get enough of him. I think that casting him as the Phantom in the movie now would generate tremendous sales at the box office, as well as a whole new group of "Phantom Phans."
From Louise Chauvin (email@example.com):
Without a doubt it has to be MICHAEL CRAWFORD!!! Michael was the original Phantom who won raves, the Tony & other awards for Phantom, and also won the hearts of everyone! With no disrespect to Antonio Banderas, no one could possible sing the part of the Phantom with so much emotion, become the Phantom in his inner core, and sing with one of the most outstanding voices of our time and with so much range as Michael. My vote is definitely MICHAEL CRAWFORD!!!!!!!! Thanks for taking the poll!
From Angela Coots, Leawood, KS:
Thank you for this poll. As a member of the Michael Crawford Phantom Movie Campaign, it's obvious whom I believe should be cast as the Phantom in the movie version. Michael Crawford will, for all time, BE the Phantom of the Opera. The power of his voice is only exceeded by the depth of the emotion he is able to convey with the same said voice. The leonine grace of his movements brings chills and goose-bumps to those lucky enough to be witness to his performance.
On the current concert tour, sans mask, cape and make-up, Michael has brought the Phantom to thousands of fans who never had the chance to see a theatrical performance. Michael BECOMES the phantom for the audience using only his voice and body language. As he moves in and out of the shadows on stage, we, the audience, would swear we can actually see the gleam of the mask or the swirl of the cape.
If Michael is not cast in the movie, it will be a travesty for all fans of Phantom of the Opera. Future generations will miss out on the opportunity to witness the amazing character created by this man. His is the performance emulated by all subsequent actors in the role.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to express my opinions in this forum. I would be very interested in hearing the results of this poll.
From Leonie Yaffe, England:
Michael Crawford should be the Phantom in the film. He is the person who created the stage role of the Phantom. There isn't anybody else who portrays the personality of Erik as Michael Crawford does. He also has such a beautiful voice and is truly the 'Angel of Music.
From Eugene DePasquale:
DAvis GAines, should play the Phantom. He has a magnificent voice .
From Allison Autry:
I suppose Warner Bros. needs a big movie star for the movie to make more money, but wouldn't it be great if Frank D'Ambrosio, who plays the Phantom in the San Francisco production, got the part? His voice is gorgeous, far superior to Banderas. And it's not fair for San Francisco to have him all to themselves.
From: Linda Frey (firstname.lastname@example.org):
My choice is Michael Crawford. He created the role and won numerous awards including the Tony. The original cast album has been certified quadruple platinum. He has also played the part in New York, London and Los Angeles. I just saw Michael in concert and he sings the songs better than ever. With no mask or props he literally turned into the Phantom right on stage. It was the most electrifying and dramatic thing I have ever seen. In my opinion there is only one Phantom -- Michael Crawford.
From TJ Faulkner:
Michael Crawford all the way!!! Michael should be the Phantom star for the reason that he is the only star who could live up to the expectations of the role. He has the voice and the talent. And another reason is that the Phantom live in the Paris Opera House...which is not located in Spain!! Banderas has the accent that would totally screw up the entire film. And besides that simple fact is that Banderas can't sing!! The only real choice for Warner Bros. is Michael Crawford!!
I think that Michael Crawford Should be Phantom and Sara Brightman should be Christine. In the movie version of Phantom. But I do think that making a movie version of it is a dumb idea.
Michael Crawford, no question about it. He was the original Phantom, and he is a great actor. Not to mention his glorious voice. I believe that it will be a crime if some Hollywood bigshot puts John Travolta or Antonio Banderas in the role, merely so the picture can have 'mass appeal'.I hope they really try to do this one right, more so than Evita. Wouldn't it be a triumph for the theatre community if a musical won an Oscar for 'Best Picture'?!?!
From Cathy Conway (Tym4tea@aol.com):
I'm so very glad you're letting our voices be heard! I've been an admirer of Michael Crawford's Phantom & music for years, and have looked forward to the day when his "Erik" could be viewed on the big screen. He created the role, and has mastered it to such a degree that he has mesmerized audiences to the point where many were spending obscene amounts of money on theatre tickets. His performance is sublime, and for many years, he was being considered for the "lead" in the movie. He had "escape" clauses written into all of the shows he'd done since so that when filming began, he could leave and do the movie....
How in the world Warners and ALW could have had a change of heart in this matter is beyond me!!! Michael Crawford IS the Phantom of the Opera. He created the role, and is the only person this mom of two will consider viewing in the role! I can't possibly settle for an actor who can't sing in this role! It's too important, and too close to the heart. Michael Crawford's Phantom had many in tears at the theatre... (me included) your heart wept for the man he portrayed. It's sheer lunacy that WB and ALW are considering anyone else for this role! Michael's Phantom deserves to be preserved on film for future generations to view, just as Yul Brynner's "King & I" was. Thank you for this opportunity to "vent." I don't "campaign" for much of anything, but this issue has been near and dear to my heart!!
From Mary Kapso:
There is no actor who could play the role of the Phantom other than the superbly talented and gracious Michael Crawford. Mr. Crawford created the role in London, carried it to Broadway and then on to Los Angeles for a total three and a half years. Although allowed some individuality, each actor after him was required to mimic his gestures, inflections and postures in portraying Erik, the Phantom of the Opera. No insult intended to Mr. Banderas, but I share the opinion of many that he could not possibly pull off the role. We are not speaking of a character such as Che, Armand, or Zorro. This character must be sensual, spiritual and incredibly vocally talented. Out of absolute respect and courtesy, I would suggest to Andrew Lloyd Webber and Warner Brothers that they at least make good on their many promises made to Mr. Crawford and offer him the role. If he chooses to turn it down, which is doubtful, cast another stage "Phantom" such as Davis Gaines or Brad Little. The role was promised to Mr. Crawford initially. Lord Lloyd-Webber and Warner Brothers should honor that fact.
From Shum Ting Hin, Henry:
I don't believe there will be a person who never play a part in POTO can perform better than those who played the role of Erik!
And also, in my opinion, I don't think there's a person can play the role of Phantom better than Michael Crawford does!!!
I can't provide any objective reasons that can show you that Michael performing the Phantom will be much better than others doing so. BUT, I only know that Michael the Phantom "touches my heart" every time I listen to him singing; Michael/Erik "breaks my heart" every time I hear him crying Christine's name...
Warner Bros.' action will not only destroy the work of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, Mr. Leroux's heart touching story will also be destroyed....
There's probably only a couple people I would love to see play the Phantom:
My first choice is Michael Crawford. Definitely Michael Crawford.
Second I would choose Brad Little. Wow!! Can he sing!! He's also a very moving actor.
Third I would go with Colm Wilkinson. He has a unique way of approaching the role.
John Travolta and Antonio Banderas are down there at the very bottom like numbers 100,000,000,028,000,000,000,000,000,000 and 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Ya know.
I also wanna touch a very untouched role. Christine. Now there are a lot of candidates here. I would probably go with almost anybody who has played it on stage BESIDES Rebecca Caine (Original Toronto) and Sarah Brightman.
From Sabra Steinsiek:
It is beyond my comprehension why Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Warner Brothers are even looking at anyone else. We already have a Phantom... we have *the* Phantom, the man who originated the role - Michael Crawford.
If you have ever seen Michael talking about the Phantom, you know that the Phantom is a part of his soul, they are one and the same.
In his current concert tour (and his recent PBS special) he *becomes* the Phantom... without a mask, without costume, he evokes the image of the tortured soul of Erik and moves us to care once again.
Banderas? He's a pretty face. And that's not a requirement for the role.
What are required are a beautiful voice and a commanding presence, the very things that Michael Crawford has demonstrated time and again.
If Lloyd-Webber wants to immortalize his magical musical, then PLEASE, Andrew, make it something you can be proud of.
This is really easy: Michael Crawford! He created the phantom, everyone who has ever played the phantom has imitated Michael Crawford in the role. The thought of POTO without Michael Crawford is obscene!
From Pat Reiber:
As far as I am concerned there can only be one person to play the role of the Phantom and that is the original Phantom, Michael Crawford. There is no one who can play that role the way Michael Crawford does, with such compassion for the man and the misery he is going through and has gone through for all of his life. He has a feel for that part that I have not seen any other actor perform it in such a manner and I have seen three others as the Phantom. If you have seen Michael Crawford on interview shows just talking about his role as the Phantom you can see the change in his face, his body, his voice, he becomes the Phantom as he speaks, right before our eyes and isn't even in costume or wearing the mask and there is no one, no one at all , who will be able to perform that role as he has and could do again in the movie version, if given the opportunity to show them all just how the role should be played.
From Tara Evans, Hitchcock, TX:
I believe that the best candidate to play the role of the Phantom of the Opera is MICHAEL CRAWFORD. His mesmerizing voice and exceptional acting should put in the front runner position for the part. Michael can make a 3 hour movie seem like 30 minutes. You are so caught up in his emotions, you don't realize that there are people sitting around you and that you have sat for 3 hours.
PLEASE DON'T CAST ANYONE IN THE PART OTHER THAN MICHAEL CRAWFORD!!!!!!!!!
Please cast a vote for myself and one for my husband, Howard Evans.
There is only one person who can make the Phantom come alive and that is Michael Crawford. Anyone who was privileged to see him on the stage in this role knows the role is his!!! I saw Michael in New York in 1988 and in Los Angeles in 1989 and 1991 as the Phantom. The pathos and yearning that he conveyed with a mask on was amazing. The use of his hands and that strange but oh so beautiful voice had everyone rooting for him to get Christine!!! It would be a huge mistake to go "Hollywood" on this movie or dub the voice. The Phantom is not a young man. He is first a father figure to Christine but wants to be more than that. It takes a tremendous actor and singer to do this role and Michael Crawford is the one who can do it!!!!
From Mark de Vries, The Netherlands:
I have said it before and I am saying it again. You can put a mask on someone's face and he will look like the Phantom. But you can never put a mask on someone voice. In my opinion the only one who has the right to play the lead role in this Phantom movie is Michael Crawford. This is the man that created the unforgettable character of Eric. No one can do it better than he does.