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 nineteenth file of posts. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.
I really think (and I know I'm gonna get grief for this) that Michael Crawford is too old to play the Phantom. As for who should, I can't really think of anyone. Maybe Douglas Sills could make the move to the big screen. I think he's just plain awesome. And as for Christine, I think a total unknown, with a great voice, and who's young, would be a great choice to get the teenage girls involved. Maybe Enrique Iglesias could be a good Phantom. But who ever it is, it should be a young and known actor/singer. Sorry, Michael is too old!
From Matt Johnson:
I have seen the role of Phantom performed by four people (Michael Crawford, Davis Gaines, Robert Guillaume, and Ron Bohmer). HANDS DOWN, Michael Crawford is best suited to play Phantom in the movie adaptation. Casting Antonio Banderas would be a disaster. While he may have a bigger name than the rest, his Spanish accent and relatively weak voice would be a terrible miscast. As for the merits of Michael Crawford... He has, in my opinion, one of the most powerful voices in the Broadway world today. It is obvious the care he has taken with the part exceeds the levels of perfection rarely achieved by performers. Michael Crawford is one of the greatest performers of our age, and he should be allowed immortalize the great part in one of the greatest musicals of our age.
From Spiv13 :
Phantom has to be...
He won't even need a mask!
There is only one Phantom and that is MIchael Crawford. I've seen it several times in different cities and, although many of the actors were excellent, they just didn't seem to have the mystique that he brings to the role. As the Phantom can be ageless, I am sure that the only reason that the studios are considering others are for the box office draw. I think that because The Phantom of the Opera has become an international success and Michael Crawford is most identified with the role. that the studios will definitely get their investment back and more with him in the lead.
From Beth Wetherington:
I've been following the proposed casting of the movie version of Phantom of the Opera with dismay and disbelief.
After having been fortunate enough to witness Michael Crawford's transformation on stage in the Phantom, I can't imagine why Andrew Lloyd Webber and the powers that be at Warner Brothers think they have to go searching for someone else to be in the proposed movie.
The role of the Phantom doesn't just require acting ability. It also requires a hypnotic voice and *presence*. Crawford has all three of these things in abundance. He inhabits the Phantom's persona as if it were a second skin for him.
While I don't want to denigrate the other actors who have been mentioned for the part, I'm fairly certain that, in their hands, it will just be another role and movie goers will wonder what all the fuss was about. My (movie going) money bets that this would not be the case with Crawford. After all, he did create the role and win numerous awards for doing so.
From Carol Roddy:
Without a doubt there is truly one & only one Phantom - MICHAEL CRAWFORD!!! He created the role in the musical & it would be disastrous to try to cast someone else to 'fill the mask'. His portrayal of the Phantom is not unlike Rex Harrison's Henry Higgins & Yul Brynner's King. Only he can bring the passion to the role; only he can project that passion which is infinitely more critical to the screen than on stage.
From Miss Rori Stevens:
I honestly think Michael Crawford is the best choice to play the Phantom. I never saw him perform in the play itself...but I have been a fan of his for quite a while...and last week I saw him in concert. When he sings the music from this show it is something greater than mere singing. It's a transformation. I can hear all the pain, love, power of the character in that voice, and I see it in his body language. Please, Warner Brothers, think very carefully about this. And if you don't think he would appeal to a younger audience...well, I'm only 20.
How can there be any doubt as to who should play the Phantom? It can only be Michael Crawford, the originator of the role. Antonio Banderas? Please. ..he does not have the skill to portray Erik with the same passion as Crawford, nor does he have the vocal ability. Erik is not just any character, he must be played only be someone who can do him justice. In my opinion, Michael Crawford is that someone.
From Beth Gualda:
There can be no other! Michael Crawford is the only intelligent choice. He created this phantom and this role belongs to him. He is an exceptional actor and his voice is unequaled. He is the one responsible for making this play and the music so popular in the first place.
From Judy Kobel:
There is no other choice for Phantom except Michael Crawford. He created the role, gave it the popularity that it has enjoyed since opening on the stage ten years ago, and no one will be able to do it with the style, passion and presence that he does. His singing voice makes the music come alive. He is the one and only "MUSIC OF THE NIGHT". Any other actors in the role of Eric will doom the movie to flash in the pan, never to be seen or heard from again. If this movie is to become a classic that endures, it requires the classic actor that originated the role. I also think that Dale Christian would be the only choice for Christine. She has a magnificent voice, beauty, and more than enough talent. She and Michael created magic together on the stage.
From Amie Mizel:
I am a gigantic Michael Crawford fan and I believe he deserves the role as the "Phantom in the movie version of the play. Not only does he know the music, he has acting experience in movies and he set the precedents for the current "Phantoms" as to how the part should be played. He is more than deserving for this role, and I believe his age should not be an issue. He is an able-bodied man who is in shape, and he doesn't look a day over 45. In my mind it is simple as to whom should play the part, Michael Crawford.
I firmly believe that Michael Crawford should be Phantom in the "Phantom" movie. For several reasons, and more I can't really explain. His voice his so captivating. Every time I listen to my "Phantom" OLC (Orig London Cast) cd, it's like "no kidding Crawford got cast for the Phantom role"! My mother and aunt also luv and adore Michael Crawford.
From Shannon Marshall:
I was only 12 when I first saw Michael Crawford as the Phantom (In L.A.). It was the most exciting experience of my life.
Michael Crawford appeals tremendously to people of ALL AGES and BOTH SEXES. A movie with Michael Crawford as the Phantom CAN'T LOSE!
From Heather R.:
Michael Crawford should be the FIRST and most obvious choice for Warner Brothers. He is incredibly talented and has the voice and mannerisms that epitomize the role of the Phantom. If Warner Brothers gives him the brush-off simply because his is not a famous "big screen" name, they are only cheating themselves and the movie's future audience out of what would surely have been a fantastic, moving experience. Michael is hardly too old for the role. In fact, the Phantom in Gaston Leroux's original novel was clearly around Michael's current age. I'm behind Michael 100%.
Michael Crawford is the only Phantom. He has performed the role so many times that he has it down to the point where nobody could possibly do it better than him. As for the people who say a "star" attraction is needed, I don't think so. Movie goers who do not have any interest in theatre will probably not go to see it no matter who is cast. So why not go with someone who will actually draw the theatre fans to the movie?
From Don Benefiel:
I agree with my wife: Michael Crawford is the only logical choice for the Phantom role. He portrayed the character brilliantly on stage, has film experience, and he is singing better than ever. To consider anyone else is ludicrous.
From Anna Markova:
Michael Crawford was the very first Phantom I've ever heard and first Phantom I've seen, so I can hardly imagine another Phantom.
From Debra Baird:
Michael is the only choice for the movie! It is not about how he looks or his age, it is the feeling he puts into his songs. His voice cannot be replaced or his sensitivity. Don't do a "Hollywood" and ruin such a beautiful musical. Michael Crawford made me cry every time I saw Phantom. No one else will do that. I want to say that...
From Anthony Pistorius:
I just watched a promotion of the King and I on Bravo and was astonished to hear the intro speaking the same feelings I have about seeing Michael Crawford in the movie version of Phantom. The promo said that Yul Brynner played the role on stage 3000+ but for those who were unable to obtain a ticket to see the stage version, here was his performance immortalized on film. Can't say it better. Please, Michael Crawford for the movie.
From Allison Lane:
I vote for Michael Crawford to play the lead in Andrew Lloyd Webber's projected film version of The Phantom of the Opera because 1. He is already well-versed in the role, unlike Travolta or Banderas, and therefore is quite capable of pulling it off correctly unlike the aforementioned two, and 2. Lord Lloyd Webber thinking Crawford too old is just plain silly. The Phantom is supposed to be in his fifties as it is, and Crawford would outstrip any younger actor with more "star appeal" even at his age.
Please note that Michael Crawford is not my first choice, but the most logical.
Count me in with all those people who think MC is the best Phantom for the movie--he's the original phantom and was just great. He's now kind of a symbol; Broadway is being taken over by stars from other areas and movie corporations and lately fewer people who studied theatre or came up through the ranks of musicals have gotten star-making roles. This could get worse and eventually they'll take a back seat to everyone else. MC may be the last stage musical star to ever get a chance at starring in the film version of his hit and he can't be brushed aside be- cause he's not popular enough or hasn't starred in movies. So let him recreate his legendary role, its not that much of a gamble and if the POTO movie is a hit then the movie door will be open for future Broadway talents. It's win-win.
From Margaret and George Ritter:
We would like to cast our vote for MICHAEL CRAWFORD to star in the movie version of "THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA." Michael is the best person for the role--he has performed the part well over 1300 times; his voice and physical presence are perfect for the part; he is already accepted as THE Phantom, and many years ago he was PROMISED the role when it was to be filmed. Michaelis known throughout the world for his performances in Phantom and is a well-respected stage performer and film actor.
I think everyone is being too hard on Antonio Banderas. personally I fell in love with his singing in Evita. I watched Crawford in concert. He was brilliant. But I liked the phantom in the musical I saw better. Crawford is the classical phantom, but Antonio Banderas has a different allure. And he can be evil and good with such depth. Here's hoping for antonio!!
and I'm a huge musical fan. Also I'm speaking for a younger generation too. Personally having a beautiful man like Banderas will push me to see opening night of the movie and with Crawford, I'd see it eventually. It sounds stupid, but I'm an 18 year old female. My friends and I agree Banderas all the way.
From Christopher M. Ortiz:
It's hard to believe that after all these years, the producers over at Warner Bros. are finally turning this amazing musical into something suitable for the big screen.
In a recent Michael Crawford concert, which I and several other musical colleagues attended in Houston Tx, I found his voice to still carry the same power and passion as it did when the musical was released back in 1987.
So, I would have to tip my hat over to Michael Crawford as the lead. To consider a "BIG" name star such as A. Banderas would literally be an insult to "Phantom" and fans of "Phantom".
Not to say that Banderas is a bad actor or singer, but in a recording of EVITA that I own, I have to admit that Mandy Patinkin sounded more Spanish than Banderas did in the recent movie.
So in conclusion, leave the big names off and let Sir ALW have final say as to who will have the coveted role(just as long it is not A.Banderas); and as a reminder to Warner Bros., it is not the big name stars who are cast in this film that will make them their millions but the appropriate singers cast and most importantly the fans of this unforgettable musical who will pay THEIR good money to see it.
There is no choice other than Michael Crawford for Phantom of the Opera, on Broadway or on screen. He brings life to that role, and is a realistic Phantom, unlike the too-handsome Antonio Banderas. The Phantom is supposed to be older according to the story line. I could much more easily see Mr. Banderas as Raoul, Christine's lover (any chance of Sarah Brightman for Christine??).
For those of you who have expressed doubt as to whether Mr. Crawford can sustain the high notes required, might I recommend that you attend his concert tour? He starts off with a number from "Jesus Christ Superstar" that soars and sustains beyond any male range I have heard. As a finale, after an hour and fifteen minutes of non-stop singing, he performs "Papa, Can You Hear Me?", hitting notes as high and powerful as in the opening. Luciano Pavarotti is no spring chicken; would you question his prowess as the world's premiere operatic tenor? I assure you, Michael should not be questioned either.
As to who would draw a bigger crowd, I can only point to myself as an example. I, a 27-year-old woman (who should prefer Banderas, according to demographics), traveled two and a half hours to see Michael Crawford perform in concert last weekend, and will drive another two hours to see him in Columbus this weekend. At $75/show, that demonstrates a significant interest and investment. Who can spend the money on movie tickets- a 14-year-old, or myself? I've seen the stage show numerous times, and there would be no need to see the movie version unless Mr. Crawford is the Phantom.
From Matt Burke:
My vote would obviously go to Michael Crawford. He is a well-loved singer all over the planet and anyone who has heard him sing loves him. To not love Michael Crawford's voice is a sin. He is also a big enough name to draw people. If he were not available, I would put in a vote for Rick Hilsabeck and Davis Gaines. Both are incredible singers and play great Phantoms. Yet Michael Crawford does more than play the Phantom. He is the Phantom.
From Amy Taylor :
Michael Crawford is the best choice for the movie version of The Phantom of the Opera. He is an outstanding performer and he can definitely light up the movie screen, he proved that as Cornelius Hackle in the movie of Hello Dolly. He brought so much to the screen and had a great screen presence. A name won't sell the Phantom movie, a good transaction from stage to screen will and theater fans will. The theater fans who love this show and theater in general will be the ones taking their friends and family, who may not be big theater goers, to the movie. If you do not have some interest in theater and/or musicals you are probably not going to go see this movie without some pushing from a theater fan! They should make the movie for the people who really want to enjoy it, not for the people who just want to see it because some big Hollywood movie star is in it(singing music that has been transposed for their limited range!). I agree with the few other people who said that 1776 is a very enjoyable movie with a great chemistry because they kept most of the original cast intact. I would love to see Sarah Brightman play Christine(she still has it, I saw her in concert in '94 and I've seen the PBS concert, her voice is more mature and very beautiful and she can still look the part), and Steve Barton as Raoul. Other good choices for Raoul would be Douglas Sills, Michael Ball, and Alan Campbell, but if the big shots in Hollywood decide they have to have a famous actor in the movie, Raoul is the role they should play(you see his face and that is what they are trying to sell). I enjoyed Antonio as Che but he could never be the Phantom, he should just stick to wearing the Mask of Zorro and leave the Phantom's mask to Michael Crawford.
It's about time somebody gets the courage to turn an incredible musical theatre experience into a movie. However, one must be extremely careful in doing so and make sure that the Phantom's outstanding reputation is not tarnished. Which means Antonio Banderas cannot be cast as the Phantom. The Phantom is a character totally unfitting to everything Banderas stands for. I'm not saying that he isn't talented, but his voice is simply not qualified for such a romantic and resounding character. Therefore, Michael Crawford would be an excellent choice. Or maybe even another Phantom veteran. I just hope that Warner Brothers would not stoop so low as to cast someone solely for commercial success. That is down right TACKY!!!
Michael Crawford should be the Phantom, period. Antonio Banderas? Is Hollywood kidding? Please, I would not move off my couch and part with $8 to see him as the Phantom. Give me a break. Wasn't "Evita" enough?
From Eileen Cohen:
I vote for Michael Crawford as the phantom in the movie.
I don't have internet access. I hope this vote can count as it is.
I am writing to you to show my support for Michael Crawford to play the role of Phantom in the upcoming movie version of the great musical. I can imagine no one else playing the role except for the one man who defined it in the beginning.
From Sarah J. Tate:
I am here to cast my vote for the one and only person who should play the Phantom in the upcoming film version of the musical: Michael Crawford. Having never had the opportunity to see Mr. Crawford portray the part, I was looking forward to seeing him reprise the role in the film version. I was, of course, very alarmed to hear that someone else was being considered for the part. Mr. Crawford obviously worked extremely hard to make the role his, and I think it is an insult to him, as well as to all of us who call ourselves fans, if another is cast in the role.