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.
Playbill On-Line asked readers: 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.
Owing to the huge response, we have created this thirteenth file of posts. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.
Michael Crawford, as the original Phantom of the Opera in the musical, would be the best choice to play Erik in the forthcoming movie. Because he originated the role on stage, because his voice is extraordinary (and he knows the music), because he has also appeared in movies, Michael Crawford is the one who should be the Phantom in the movie.
From j pennington:
I think that by far the most interesting and complete musical star today is Mandy Patinkin. While his solo cabaret style is sometimes crazed, his work in Broadway shows is electrifying. He has starred in several movies and has gained additional fan appeal from his turn on Chicago Hope. Whoever is chosen for the role, the director is, of course, much more important to the final product.
If we are looking for the person most qualified to portray the Phantom on film, Michael Crawford should be the only choice. This talented performer not only has an incredible voice, but he has the required acting skills to do justice to the role. His recent PBS special and current national tour show that he has a large and loyal following that is growing daily. In the 50's and 60's, Hollywood felt it was acceptable to dub in voices for big names who couldn't sing and often lied about doing so. I think people today are much wiser consumers and demand honesty from the industry. Unfortunately, the days of the big name singer/actor seem to be in the past. In this case, either a project should be abandoned or a non-Hollywood actor who has the necessary talent should be chosen. Imagine My Fair Lady without Rex Harrison. Michael Crawford is identified with the part of the Phantom in the same way.
From Claudia Richards:
Hi! My sister in law just asked me to let you know who I would like to see in the movie. Well, I would like to see Michael Crawford because he was really great in EFX! I know he would be great in Phantom of the Opera. Please tell the movie people that for me!
From Andy Coleman:
My choice would be Michael Crawford. He gave what must be ranked as one of the most affecting performances of the last decade in musical theater. He created the role.
Michael Crawford is the best choice for Phantom. He originated the role and knows Eric(Phantom) better than anyone,just watch his face when he sings 'Music of the Night',he becomes Eric! Banderas as Phantom? It's a joke,right? First,he's too young,secondly,he's starring as Zorro-and he wears a mask in that! Will we honestly be able to look at Banderas dressed as Phantom and NOT see Zorro?? I think not! Michael Crawford is the only choice for Phantom,the mystery and sensuality he brings to the role will draw people in-not name recognition-besides..."Phantom..starring Zorro"?
From TODD BRISCOE:
Michael Crawford should DEFINITELY play the Phantom! Antonio B is Spanish and the Phantom is not!!! And if they cast John Travolta...no...John just DOESN'T fit that part! John has more of a 70s rock voice...Michael is the only one to fit the part! I also wish Sarah Brightman should Play Christine.
From Marcelo Kotliar:
Hi!! I think It's great to have the opportunity to give my opinion...For me, Michael Crawford should play the role on the film version, simply because he originated the role both in London and New York!!. Personally, I don't like him very much as a singer, but I think he played the role extraordinarily...I'm from Argentina, and I haven't seen him doing Phantom ( I saw Davis Gaines ) but I think film roles should go to the stars who originated the roles...remember Rosalind Russell's GYPSY or Lucille Ball's MAME...If the roles would have been played by the original stars they would have been wonderful movies as THE MUSIC MAN is for having Robert Preston on It, or MY FAIR LADY for having Rex Harrison...I don't think Antonio Banderas could do a good PHANTOM ( though he surprised me in EVITA) let alone John Travolta (he barely sings SANDY...), but I think Kevin Kline could be a good choice.
From Jane H. Cohen:
Michael Crawford - should be given the role - his voice alone has the quality associated with the Phantom - matinee idol status is not a prerequisite of the role - the public's association of his voice via recordings should help with publicity for the movie. (I am not a member of a fan club!)
Michael Crawford originated the role of Erik in Phantom of the Opera with sensuality and sensitivity that hooked fans and touched our passion. Only for Michael will we line up to see his portrayal in theatres and to own a copy of the video. Think of the money you will make off our drooling faces!
The role of the Phantom should go to Michael Crawford. But he's too old. I think the best person to play the phantom is the star of Jekyll and Hyde, Robert Cuccioli. He has an amazing voice and will suit the part well. If you have an doubt of my suggestion just listen to "This is the Moment".
From Nani Santos:
Michael Crawford is synonymous with The Phantom of the Opera. All other Phantoms who played after him had to meet the high standards of perfection Michael set on stage. Now that the musical will be filmed, I cannot conceive why Hollywood moguls would settle for less when they can have the original (Michael Crawford) play the role on the big screen. When you can pick a flawless DeBeers diamond, why should you settle for a Russian diamond? Beats me. I share the sentiments of all the countless fans -- worldwide -- of Michael Crawford. Michael should definitely play the role he created, The Phantom of the Opera, which made him the brilliant star he is today! Banderas and Travolta do not hold a flicker of a candle beside Michael's talents. I pray the next news I hear is that Michael will be playing his role.
I believe that it must be Michael Crawford! I mean he was the original in the musical, and in order for this movie to happen I, although there is still the question of why there must be a film on it, Michael Crawford must return to the role that he did first! He is definitely the one who created the man behind the mask, so he should be the leading role in the film!
Tony award winning Michael Crawford is the Logical Choice, He Originated the Role in London, Broadway, and Los Angeles. He has numerous film credits. Hello Dolly, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. How I won the War. The Jokers. Condorman. He is experienced in most forms of Entertainment. TV, Radio, Movies, Theatre (both Musicals and Strait Theatre) As for him not being a big Hollywood Name I would say this what better advertising then to announce that MICHAEL CRAWFORD TONY AWARD WINNING ACTOR RETURNS TO THE ROLE HE CREATED.
From Josh Schonauer:
Personally, I don't really like "Phantom of the Opera". While some of the music is good (namely 2 songs: "Masquerade" and "Think of Me") the show is dull and very predictable. And forgive me, but it drags VERY badly until the end of the show. Anyway, this brings me to the movie. First of all, that may be an improvement of the musical, because many things could be done to make it more interesting. Now, about Antonio Banderas.... I thought he was a mediocre Che in "Evita" and I don't think I'd be interesting in hearing him try to sing "Music of the Night". You can't pick anyone other than Michael Crawford to play the Phantom. He deserves it, for one thing. He created the role, and that's part of what made the show a hit, not to mention helping it pick up the Tony for "Best Musical". So, Crawford should play it because he can and he is simply the best as Phantom. As for Antonio.... no comment. Thanks.
I feel that Michael Crawford is the only choice for Phantom. He created a character that we can all sympathize and empathize with. His voice has only improved since he last played the part and he is far from "too old." Mr. Crawford has paid his dues, been promised the part and is the only logical choice. I don't believe that a big movie star is going to be enough to bring in the crowds. If the role is compromised in that way, I wouldn't bother to go see it. I'd rather just listen to the Original cast recording (with Michael Crawford) and remember what a thrill it was to see the play performed on stage.
Just to be logical about the whole phantom movie, we need to consider the whole idea. If Andrew picked Michael to be the Phantom in the beginning and had no qualms about it then why should he now? He had Michael as a featured singer in the Music of ALW tour. Michael is the one on the Original Cast Album. He has been chosen by several others to perform, for instance, Gene Kelly had Michael in Hello Dolly, Barbara Streisand asked Michael to perform a duet with her after hearing his voice in Phantom. The MGM when they decided to open a Huge show in Las Vegas asked Michael and we know they could have their pick of the crop. Michael is a very humble man and will not campaign for the role. All anyone has to do is watch a taped or a live performance of this man and the choice is very clear. Michael is the PHANTOM!
I think Michael Crawford should play the phantom. He sounds just like I would think the phantom would of sounded like. He is the original and the best. I do not care how unpopular he is in the movie world. I think that he and Broadway should be popular and casting him is a start. Banderas is too accented. Besides I believe that the cast will not draw the crowds. Nobody went to see Evita just because of Madonna. (No one likes Madonna). And to the people that think Crawford looks too old think that he is playing the phantom and it really does not matter what he looks like.
For me Michael Crawford is the quintessential Phantom, many have replaced him but none have surpassed him - he owns this role. I can think of no other actor who could bring to this part the depth and understanding that Mr. Crawford has. For three years he thrilled audiences every time he appeared on stage as Erik, how wonderful it would be for moviegoers everywhere if they were able to experience this truly touching performance on the big screen.
From Sally Connors:
Michael Crawford is too old. To see that old man salivating after a young girl would change the story into something else. Antonio Banderas is handsome and sexy but he hasn't got the voice. My pick would be Davis Gaines.
Mr. Crawford should be the Phantom in the movie version because he originated the role and is a lot more qualified to sing the role than John Travolta or Antonio Banderas. Perhaps he is not a huge film star, but he is not that old and in my opinion he still sounds great! Andrew Lloyd Webber should listen to what the fans want instead of going for the big money and a big name for the movie.
From Michael P. Martin:
Personally, I know that THE Phantom, Erik, was and is Michael Crawford. Michael was the premier player of the role because Lord Weber knew that Michael could do him justice. Michael received a Tony for his efforts and many Drama Desk Awards as well. And also, which slips most people's minds, he is a tenor. The musical role of the Phantom is so demanding of the male voice that it takes a person with incredible amounts of experience and dedication to sing. The male tenor voice is in it's PRIME when a man reaches the age range of 40-60. Michael is singing better than ever because of this. Michael has also acted in numerous movies and is still a hit in the British Commonwealth. Americans know who he is and will say, "oh Yeah, isn't he the Phantom?" Well, in my mind, as well as the minds of countless others, HE IS!
MICHAEL CRAWFORD is THE man to do the movie! No one else! I have seen the show many times and no actor can do it like he can. The way he carries people with the songs and the way he puts his soul into it is just so fantastic! John Travolta, Antonio and anyone else is definitely not right!
From Michael Tomaselli:
Of course, Michael Crawford should be it. But as the business goes, they will choose a much younger man. How about Davis Gaines who played the Phantom in LA with Dale Kristien? He has an awesome voice, he's young, and not bad to look at! That is my opinion.....
From Kelly Crawford:
I have already sent in my vote for this (Michael Crawford), but feel I have to respond to some of the emails I read on your site. There are a few that say Crawford is to old. That he can't hit the high notes and would need help paddling the boat on stage. Okay, once and for all, THE PHANTOM IS AN OLDER MAN! Read the story people. He's not a young, 30 something guy after Christine. That's part of the whole story! Christine sees him as a father figure among other things. That's one of the things that makes the story! And not being able to hit the high notes? Please! Obviously they didn't watch the PBS concert. He has no problem hitting those notes. He never has! The man is in wonderful shape. I went to his concert and he is in better shape than many men his age. Banderas can't sing. His role in Evita, while better than I expected, is more singing/talking than anything. Not a single hard note to hit. And while I have heard Banderas did well at Webber's birthday, I have also heard from just as many sources that he sounded awful. This role is not something that just anyone can sing. You need years of training. Christine isn't the only role where the person has to know how to sing. And Hollywood not ever casting stage names in musical movies? Um...The King and I? My Fair Lady? Do these ring a bell? The leading men where the same men that made the role famous on stage. Yes, I know others have played this role on stage, but when everyone copies one man's performance doesn't that say something? Yes, they all add their own thing to it, but they follow the basic outline that Crawford set years ago. He was the first, and only, Phantom. I've seen others. It isn't the same. One can't explain the awe you feel when you watch Michael Crawford literally become Erik right before your eyes when he sings those songs. It's an eerie feeling. You're speechless. Even the crew he worked with in Phantom said it was amazing.
From Norma J. Fountain:
I want to vote on this vital issue. Here is my summation of the compelling reasons why Michael Crawford deserves to have this role: 1. Michael helped create the character of the Phantom, and he was the most publicized of all the Phantoms. A Tony Award, and a lot of National recognition followed closely on the heals of the Broadway opening of this show. He is the Phantom whose biography, and pictures, are used in the gorgeous book available for purchase at the Phantom venues. His is also the voice on the full length CD of Phantom of the Opera, as well as the CD of The Highlights of Phantom of the Opera. His is the voice most people would expect to hear when they go to see the movie. 2. Michael's voice is extraordinary with its unbelievable vocal range; it is so well suited for this particular role. Andrew Lloyd Webber's fantastic music was showcased to perfection by Michael, which Andrew also acknowledged. Also, Michael isn't just a fabulous singer, as so many of the succeeding Phantoms were, but he is an accomplished actor as well. He has had many years of acting experience. 3. Michael is also a totally dedicated performer. He isn't just a singer, or an actor, but he gives 110% of himself to whatever he undertakes to do. He seeks perfection, and won't settle for less. He deserves this part because he is a craftsman of the highest caliber...and it is his role. More than that, Michael wants to play the Phantom in the movie version with his whole heart and sole. He is even the right age to play this "older man" part (although he certainly doesn't look his age). 4. Finally, Hollywood has the unique capability of hyping someone so that even people who hadn't heard of him before, will be clambering to see him by the time the movie comes out. There isn't any need to use a box-office name, they can create a new name very easily. This is particularly true due to the fact that Michael already has a large following of devoted fans who are eager to help promote any movie he would be in, but most particularly, the Phantom of the Opera. If anyone doesn't wholly endorse what I've just said, they should watch the PBS filming of Michael Crawford in Concert, and see him, and hear him, become the Phantom right in front of your eyes. It's incredible!
From DankCheese :
I think Michael Crawford should definitely get the part of Erik in the movie version of Phantom. He was the original Phantom on stage and is the voice heard on the recording that has sold millions since it was released. His is the performance most people think about when they think of the Phantom. A "big" Hollywood name won't guarantee a success~ only true talent will which makes people go back over and over and tell their friends. I don't think the movie should be made in the first place, but as it is obvious that it will be made whether we like it or not, it should be done properly. And to the arguments that Michael is too old for the part, the character of Erik is supposed to be in his fifties. If these people contesting that argument even cared about the character or knew anything about the show itself they would know THAT. Michael is 56, still has an incredible voice and is as ready to take on this role as he was in 1987 and when the movie role was first offered to him a few years ago. Keep the role as it was meant to be~ Let MICHAEL CRAWFORD bring Erik to the screen!