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 twentieth file of posts. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.
From Michael E. Stewart:
I think Anthony Warlow would be perfect for the part of the Phantom if they made a movie. He is the best singer....if you've heard him sing "Music of the Night" you can't disagree. He was cast as the Phantom in Australia and was the originator of the role there. Most all of the critics who have seen him have said that he is much better than Michael Crawford and definitely better than Antonio Banderas. He does have a lot of acting experience. He has been Enjolras, Phantom, Jekyll/Hyde, and many other characters. He is excellent in singing both Opera and Musical. If you haven't heard him sing but would like to, contact me for some information.
What I want to know is how they could even consider casting anyone else??
I vote for Michael Crawford, who created the phantom character in his wonderful run on the London, Broadway and Los Angeles stages. Nobody makes the music come alive like Michael Crawford.
I know that Michael Crawford would be the best and most convincing casting choice for the movie Phantom of the Opera. Not only did Michael originate the role in London, but he also is a veteran actor and singer capable of maintaining the dignity of the theatre in the movie genre. Michael Crawford is the most well-known Phantom and the obvious choice for the movie.
From Cheryl Harsin:
No one but Michael Crawford should be allowed to play the role of The Phantom. He created the Phantom that we all know and love and one only has to hear him sing this beautiful music to know that he was born to sing it. If Michael Crawford does not get the role in the movie, I will not go to see it and I will discourage everyone I know from seeing it.
From Don Wright:
My choice for the lead role for the Phantom of the Opera would have to be Michael Crawford. His portrayal of the lead character brought so many emotions from the audience. He sang the part as if it was made for him. I have seen others in the role on different occasions, and none can compare to Michael Crawford. To have another person play this role would be a tragedy, if not a drawback to the movie audience.
Well, well, well, there appears to be overwhelming support for Michael Crawford to play the lead in the Phantom movie. I would have to agree with that choice also. I do not believe that he is too old for this part. After all, he wears a mask, so how would anyone be able to tell how old anyone who plays the part would be. Crawford still has the grace and poise that is required of the part and no one can sing Music of the Night with the passion and emotion that he can.
From Nelson Gonzalez:
I definitely think that Michael Crawford should recreate his role as the phantom I saw at least four Phantoms neither one of them Michael and I was at a Lloyd Webber concert once in N.Y. and saw Michael and I loved every song he did from Phantom. I also think they should cast most of the people from the original cast Sarah Brightman, Leila Martin, Steve Barton and so forth it would be a wonderful cast as well as a very well done film. I've been waiting for this moment for so long. Please make it a reality. As long as the film version of Les Miserables never came true, make this one a special one to keep for posterity.
Antonio Banderas all the way! He was GREAT in Evita and has an almost perfect voice for the part. John Travolta? EWWWWW! Some people say, "Well he sang in Grease, so he can sing the Phantom!". Uh... think about it. Grease and Phantom....Phantom is SOOOO much more challenging to sing than Grease! As for Michael Crawford, another no. Stage acting and movie acting is very different. Some say, "Well, he was in Hello Dolly, so he could do this!". Um, no! Phantom... is a current movie while Hello Dolly is old and a total different style. Those are my views!
No one but Michael Crawford should be cast in this part. Having seen the show 6 times, (twice with Mr. Crawford), he is vastly superior to any of the Hollywood thinking (of course that last statement is an oxymoron). As Raoul, let's seriously think about Davis Gaines, one the great voices in theatre who doesn't do nearly enough work. Whoever is cast as Christine will probably be dubbed, so at least give us two magnificent singing actors.
My wife and I have been fans of Michael Crawford since a friend first gave us the cast recording of "Phantom of the Opera". Since then we have seen the play four times and firmly believe that no one is better suited for the role than Mr. Crawford. Given the varied and talented background that he has, including thousands of performances in "Barnum", which we have seen on taped repeatedly, I know he would do wonderfully. It does not matter rather it is on Broadway or in Vegas (he was amazing in "EFX" which we saw twice), it is clear beyond any doubt that the only real Phantom is Michael Crawford.
From WAYLON DAY:
Of course Michael Crawford should play the Phantom. I mean, who could DARE even think about anyone else? He has the voice, the feeling, and the looks. He makes you FEEL the Phantom's love, pain, and suffering. Why not? He would be 100 times better than Antonio Banderas. They say he is too old, but look at Sean Connery. He is over at least 70, and he's still a stud. GET REAL PEOPLE!
From Liz Headland:
In 1991 I sat transfixed in the front row of the Princess Theatre, stunned by the power, gentleness, sensuality and anger in a voice which touched my very soul. A baritone voice with an amazing versatility to alter your feelings from fear to unbelievable happiness, with an acting ability to match. It is a crime that a recording of Australia's first Phantom was never produced, but listen to his version of Music of the Night on his 'Centre Stage' cd, or 'Great Moments in Australian Theatre'. I'm sure a few more people may think that Anthony Warlow is indeed the ideal choice for the Phantom of the Opera movie.
From Lucy Dickinson:
I can't believe anyone other than Michael Crawford would be considered for the Phantom role. If you ask anyone on the street who is the Phantom on stage they would say Michael. I've been waiting at least nine years for this movie to be made with Michael Crawford, not anyone else. Hollywood is trying to convince all of us baby boomers that young is the only way to be. The original Phantom is not some young guy. He always has been portrayed as a more mature man anyway. Make Antonio Banderas, Raoul, that would be ideal for him. Please tell Warner Bros. to listen to the people. I think Antonio Banderas is going to make a great Zorro. But that should be the only cape and mask he should be allowed to wear.
From Pearl Hiscott:
Michael Crawford and only Michael Crawford should star as the Phantom in the movie version of POTO. He was the original star and, as far as I am concerned, the only actor/singer who should play this character.
From Ruth Bruney:
I think the only choice to play the Phantom in films is Michael Crawford. He was the first to create the role and he has left a mark which cannot be topped. He has the drama and pathos to play that part. The emotions he will bring to the screen are truly the ones to make this film work.
If I had to think of Antonio Banderas I would cast him as Raoul - the dashing and handsome figure that wins the girl. He would do justice to that role and be totally wasted as the Phantom.
A Phantom film without Michael Crawford would be another kind of Phantom film and I would like it to be a memorable one. Only Michael can do that.
From Carolann Nexon:
The first time I saw Phantom on Broadway, it was with Davis Gaines. I went into the show cold, without knowing the music or having heard Michael Crawford. I was amazed. Then I heard Crawford's version. There was no comparison. The emotions conveyed in Crawford's voice far outstrip Gaines and Thomas O'Leary, whom I have also seen. And his voice only gets better. Far from being too old, Crawford is the perfect age to play Erik. Crawford has enough life experience to endow Erik with a soul and heart that balance the character's inherent mental instability. Crawford understood that when he created the role at the beginning.
If the studio must have a big "name", use the roles of Christine and Raoul for the "bottom line" angle, and leave the mask to Michael.
Michael Crawford is my vote for several reasons. He was the penultimate personification of the aging villain on stage, however, only those who attend theater know that. A movie role would allow millions for years to come to understand a truly unique portrayal of a heinous villain that M Crawford somehow humanizes and makes pathetic. In a movie the audience should identify with the characters; MC is the only one who can show the cruelty AND the pathos. He is the consummate actor, able to give, with even more understanding after several years away from the stage role. Don't deny the movie audience what theater goers already know.
If Travolta play "Phantom" I will be very upset. I believe it should be Crawford. He is the Phantom. Banderas was good in EVITA, but who ever heard of a Latin-American masked man in Paris in the 1800's for the Phantom role? Leave him with EVITA, and let Crawford play it.
I hope that you send all these responses to Warner Brothers. So many people in your feedback have voted for Michael Crawford. (Which I also vote for). If they saw all these responses they might be influenced enough to change their minds (hopefully). If the film industry is ever going to make something of musical movies (like The Jazz Singer, Wizard of Oz, Grease, Sound of Music, Oliver etc...)-> moving on into the 21st century we have got to show America the best (and most artistic) that Broadway has to offer. Michael Crawford has the perfect voice to do it. Such an vibrant voice that has all the operatic qualities, but it also has that excellent touch of Rock N Roll in his voice. Anyway Evita didn't do it for the American public (even with its big STARS). They have no choice they have to pick Crawford.
P.S. Andrew Lloyd Webber is a genius, but he has lost is mind like King George! Antonio as Phantom, Phantom part 2 (What is this guy smoking?)
From Brad Harper:
It's unfortunate that the lead in film version of Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera will not go to the person who would be the best in the part - Anthony Warlow. More likely than not, the production will either go the "Hollywood" route and cast Banderas or go the "Broadway" route and cast Michael Crawford.
That either-or approach that seems to have thus far dominated the process completely overlooks the most phenomenal theatre talent (and one of the most critically acclaimed stage Phantoms) in the world. Warlow has a clear edge over every other candidate vocally and is one of the best pure actors in musical theatre. It is a real shame that he is being overlooked.
Lloyd Webber should at least ask Hal Prince for his opinion. There's no doubt Warlow's name would come up.
From Sally Connor:
I would like to respond to the people who say the phantom in the book is in his fifties. So what? We are not talking about the book but the Lloyd Webber musical which is quite a bit different. Lloyd Webber changed several things from the book and one of them was the emphasis from mentor student relationship to the tease of a possible romantic relationship between the phantom and Christine. There was always some implication there that Christine was conflicted between her feelings for Raoul and for the phantom. When her choice becomes between a young handsome man who worships her and one thirty years older who wants to dominate her, well those complexities go right out the window. It becomes the perils of Pauline and a much more simplistic story. If you want to stage a faithful adaptation of the book go right ahead and do it but Lloyd Webber (who may have had his own relationship with Brightman on his mind at the time) has the right to serve his own vision of the story and that includes a phantom with enough romantic allure to make Christine think twice about Raoul.
From karen mathis:
As far as I am concerned, Michael Crawford IS the Phantom. He is the one who created the whole persona of the Phantom with his voice and stage movements. No way should Antonio Banderas even be considered for Phantom--now Raoul is a different story.
From Jean Swartz:
Michael Crawford should play the Phantom. Banderas can't act or sing. Michael still has what it takes. Ask the PBS Stations.
M. Crawford is the one and only phantom. L. Webber wrote the part and script for Mike and Mike only. No subs! You only cheat the audience. He's a one man show. Long live the big M.C.
I believe the matter is quite simple--whoever is or has portrayed the role in London or Broadway should be the only people considered.
From Jim Benefiel:
Michael Crawford should play the title role in the movie of Phantom of the Opera, no doubt about it. Just saw him in concert in Kansas City and his singing was outstanding.
From Gloria Meyers:
Michael Crawford was the Phantom....is the Phantom....and always will be the Phantom. Why Warner Bros. would even consider casting anyone else as Eric is beyond me! Michael has won several awards for Phantom.... and has earned the right to continue the role as the phantom in the movie version. Antonio Banderas might be good as Raoul...but leave Phantom to Michael Crawford !!!
Michael Crawford is the Phantom! Anyone else is just an imitator. Michael Crawford should be the only choice for the part. He has the voice, the ability. And as I said before he is the Phantom!!!!
He's the original! He has won awards! He should be the one.
From Linda Stein:
I would like to cast my vote for Robert Cuccioli (star of Broadway's Jekyll & Hyde) as the lead in Phantom of the Opera. When he played the lead in the Yeston/Kopit version of Phantom in Westchester, his performance was compelling, emotional and mesmerizing every time and because of that, the box office demand was so great that the run was extended three times for a total of 9 months! If Banderas doesn't sign, maybe they should consider this talented actor who many feel should have won a Tony Award in 1997. There are so few 'filmed' musicals these days, I would pray for Robert's sake that they might consider a lesser known but equally capable performer. Thanks for the opportunity to submit a suggestion.
Michael Crawford is definitely the best choice for the Phantom. His name is synonymous with Phantom. He's not too old- the Erik was about Michael's age! If there is an Angel of Music, Michael is his name.
From Diana Letourneau:
As a theatergoer for many years, I felt I had to "vote" in this Phantom poll. After seeing this show many times with different actors as well as songs done in a concert format, the performer that has made the greatest impression on me is Michael Crawford. He is the only one who has pulled me into the spirit of the Phantom and made everything else around me disappear . Watching him is seeing the character as a lonely man wanting to be loved and a part of a world that he has never known with the anger coming from his loneliness rather than an evilness. In order to do this, you need to lose yourself and have the Phantom come forward. Anyone playing this wonderful creation should play it as THE PHANTOM played by "name of actor" rather than "NAME OF ACTOR" playing the phantom.
Ok, so here's the deal. I recently read some of the postings on your "Who should be 'Phantom' " board and now I feel I MUST respond. The person who claimed Antonio would bring in more people than Michael is a complete moron. Have you heard of a movie called "Too Much"? Didn't think so. It's because it starred Antonio and made Jack-squat at the box office. And therefore his semi-decent earnings are NOTHING compared to what the movie has potential for. Yes ladies and gentlemen, I am casting my vote for Mr. Crawford.
And to the lady or gentleman who claimed Michael to be an old age-ridden phantom, are you crazy?? Then, to even discredit yourself more, you used the PBS special to "Prove" your point. My dear friend, you must be mad. Michael sounded absolutely wonderful and sang each tune with complete ease.
And for those of you new to this whole "phantom-movie" thing, search the web for "Phantom of the opera" and just TRY to count how many millions of people there are who will not see the movie if it has anyone OTHER than Crawford in it. What, does Warner Brothers need it spelled out for them?? Or are they all still in second grade math.
On a different note, anyone who happens to know when they are officially announcing who will be phantom or when the production will begin filming, please E-mail DaFulMnty@aol.com