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 twenty-sixth file of posts. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.
Sending in my vote for the PHANTOM. I've seen POTO 49 times from London to LAX, Toronto to Miami and the movie MUST be made with Michael Crawford.
Just as great performers like Brian Stokes Mitchell get passed over in favor of "flashier", over-the-top performers, this MUST NOT happen to Michael in POTO.
Tom Cruise as Lestat, Madonna as Evita were o.k., but now is the time to really put a musical back in the hearts of people and it must be Michael Crawford or there will be no soul.
From Stephen Johns:
The simplest solution to the whole Phantom of the Opera casting debate is also the best one: DON'T MAKE THE MOVIE IN THE FIRST PLACE. I know it's inevitable because of Lord Lloyd-Webber's insatiable desire for money, but seriously, think of what a movie version will do to the musical. I think it would destroy it. Theatre is three-dimensional and live; cinema is two dimensional and flat. The essence of seeing Phantom live is just that: seeing it live. Filming it, mass producing it and showing it at a theatre near you will sterilize it, turning an electrifying live experience into a stale one. If you don't believe me, just think about Evita. If I had to choose an actor to play The Phantom, it would be Peter Karrie, by far and away the best of the six Phantoms I've seen on stage. I respect peoples' choosing Michael Crawford, but to those hundreds who did, how many of you have actually seen Crawford as The Phantom? And how many of you are simply basing your decision on the original London cast recording of the show? Hearing an actor is one thing; actually seeing him in a role is another thing, entirely. I've obviously heard the OLCR, but having never seen Crawford myself I'm in absolutely no position to comment on his performance -- and, consequently, to determine whether he's the best or not.
From Sally Connors:
I am beginning to get the impression that there are a few people out there who kind of like Michael Crawford. I for one would like to move on. Christine? The first one to come to mind is Melissa Errico. She has the beauty and the voice though I think you could make a case for Glory Crampton, Dale Kristian or Salma Hayek (dub her). Or Audra McDonald now there's an interesting choice. Three tonys and she's all of 26. As for Raoul I vote for the Sills guy, the one swashing his buckle every night and causing a ripple of excitement to go through the crowd.
From Jessica in Whiteside:
Michael Crawford should be the Phantom. He was the first and only spectacular Phantom. If you do use Michael, a whole lot more people will see the movie, and that means you'll make more money.
From Faisal, Age:13:
I don't see what all the fuss is about. I have been reading the responses to this poll for the last three days, and I am seeing that many people are not open minded. Many are insisting that the role of the "Phantom" is Michael Crawford's alone. No role in the musical theatre is one person's because if it was then it would not be the theatre. That is the beauty of these productions. Each actor can bring his own style into the role, attracting new and different audiences. It's also not fair for the others that have played this particular role, and who have done a wonderful job. I have seen the Phantom of the Opera twice, once with Michael Crawford and once with Ron Bohmer. Both did a magnificent job, entrancing me, taking me into a new and different world with their "Music of the Night." So who can say that John Travolta or Antonio Banderas cannot do justice to the role. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see Michael Crawford in the film version. I will be taken away with Andrew Lloyd Webber's sumptuous melodies, though, no matter who plays the part.(I am partial to Michael Crawford and John Travolta though. I believe that John Travolta does have the ability to act and sing the role, no matter who says he doesn't.)
I want to point something out to whomever is reading this poll. If these other actors are so "perfect" for the role, then why is it that Mr. Crawford has pulled in so many of the votes? Yes, there have been votes for other actors and some of them might even do a good job, but who better play the Phantom then the one that set the standard for all other Phantoms? This issue about Mr. Crawford being too old is getting old. If you know anything about the story Phantom of the Opera then you know that he is supposed to be old enough to be Christine's father. Now math isn't my best subject but you can't be in your 30's and have a daughter in her 20's. It just is not possible. Needless to say my vote is for Mr. Michael Crawford. I could go on about all the awards he's won but I hate to read long posts so I won't make mine long.
There is only one Phantom and that is Michael Crawford. He is to phantom what Yul Brenner was to King and I. Antonio Banderas is very talented, popular right now, and I've enjoyed his movies, but I can't see him as the Phantom. Anyone who has seen Michael Crawford's commanding performance of Phantom, could have no doubt that he would be best choice.
From Ken & Irene Merrells:
Peter Karrie is the only choice for the Phantom. He is still performing the roll and has done so for many years. His voice and acting ability bring provide a completely awesome performance. Peter has perfected the roll and is the best choice.
From: Claudette Carr:
I have seen Phantom many times and consider it "the cream of the crop" in musical theater! I also feel that the "original" Phantom should be given the opportunity to show the movie fans what a great musical is all about -- no, he's not well known in the movie world; however, he soon will be if given the opportunity. Michael Crawford IS the Phantom - all others in the role, follow his lead. He has a great voice and the acting ability to bring Erik into the hearts of anyone who sees and hears him. Michael is in great physical condition to handle the role - after all age is just a number! MICHAEL CRAWFORD gets my vote.
Thank for giving Phantom fans the opportunity to voice there support for Michael Crawford in the casting of the Phantom movie. I recently had the pleasure of witnessing the incredible presence of this man in concert at the Dallas and Houston venues. There are not enough words in the english vocabulary to convey the shear magnetism that Michael possesses. I sat spellbound and breathless as Erik, the Phantom, came to life before my eyes. Now, for me, there can be NO OTHER phantom. WARNER BROTHERS TAKE NOTE!!!!!!!!!!! Having read all twenty three parts of this poll and the article published on June 24th, I must say I am a bit confused. To me the word significant intimates a large number. Anyone who takes the time to read all the twenty three parts of this poll will find that it overwhelmingly favors Michael Crawford. Unfortunately the wording used in the article was misleading. If I had not read all twenty three parts I would've assumed the votes to be more evenly divided. To reiterate Michael Crawford IS the Phantom of the Opera.
This is one of the great parts in the musical theater and demands a voice of equal stature. That is the voice of Colm Wilkinson.
My first choice for the role of the Phantom would most certainly be Michael Crawford, with my second choice being Brad Little, who did an extraordinary job in the touring show. With the enormous popularity of the musical, a box office screen star is certainly not necessary for the success of the movie. Why not expose the movie-going public to the talent of the theatre and in doing so maintain the integrity of the musical itself? This would even be an excellent opportunity to discover a new stage/screen talent.
From Judy Lige:
I vote for Michael Crawford for Phantom of the Opera. I think he is a great singer and actor.
Look at Warner Brothers track record with movie musicals from Broadway: MY FAIR LADY with Audrey Hepburn, CAMELOT with Vanessa Redgrave. It seems to me that most of Antonio Bandares' appeal is his looks. Is he a strong enough actor/singer to pull off having his face covered by disfiguring make-up and a mask, as opposed to a Zorro mask? The choice for the Phantom should be Michael Crawford.
I think Banderas is a good choice for the Phantom. He is a goood actor and with some work his singing could be improved. Besides who in the major film public has heard of Michael Crawford? Banderas will sell tickets and this movie is a pretty risky thing anyway in the fact that it's a musical and movie musicals are practically dead so Banderas is perfect.
From Candace Benefiel:
Michael Crawford should be cast as the Phantom in the movie because my mom will have a stroke if he isn't!
From Elizabeth Ernst:
My name is Elizabeth Ernst and while I was looking at playbill.com I saw that ANTONIO BANDERAS was going to be playing Phantom for the upcoming movie...I FREAKED!!!!! Michael Crawford is the OBVIOUS choice!! I have seen Phantom 9 times (literally!) and cannot IMAGINE Antonio Banderas for that role!!! I mean Michael Crawford gave PHANTOM OF THE OPERA the PHANTOM!!!
From Jeff Miller:
If Colm Wilkinson doesn't get the strongest consideration for The Phantom, you might as well cast Jim Carrey. Consider this: 1) Lloyd Webber wrote The Phantom for Wilkinson, but he was in London originating the role of Jean Valjean in Les Miz.
2) Wilkinson played Phantom for five years in Toronto (to sellout crowds and standing ovations every night)
3) His portrayal of Jean Valjean won him a Tony nomination and numerous other awards.
4) Like Banderas, he played Che in Evita (stage version, not movie).
I could go on and on. If you don't think he's got the voice or stage presence, just rent the 10th anniversary performance of Les Miz from Royal Albert Hall. I rest my case.
There is no question, Michael Crawford should play the part of the Phantom in the Phantom of the Opera Movie. Michael is the 10 of the Phantoms. He is the best. Being a Phantom fanatic ( I have seen the play eight times) there is known better than the Michaelmister. I have seen Davis Gaines and Brad Little. The only person that comes close to Michael Crawford as the Phantom is Frank D'Ambrosio (playing the Phantom in San Francisco). Frank is really good. I watch the Godfather III to listen to Frank.
In all respect to Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber, he needs to get his head out of fanny and face the Music of the Night. Michael is the best. Phantom would never be as popular and famous if it were not for the voice of Michael Crawford. An Phantom fan know that.
Sir Andrew Lloyd owes it to his Phantom fans to give us Michael in the movie. I seriously question whether I would even go to the movie if Michael was not playing the Phantom. I am sure I would go if Frank D. played the Phantom.
Personally I am not real happy with Michael. I tried twice to get his autograph on an EFX program, and he has never responded.
But the facts are the facts, and Michael Crawford is the best.
From Heather Rohde:
If it's not too late, I'd like to include my vote for Michael Crawford to play the Phantom in the upcoming movie. He is by FAR the best and most appropriate choice for the role. It is ridiculous to even consider seeing any other actor portray the Phantom on the silver screen. Crawford fits the role to perfection.
Let us not forget the important role of the director in any production! I believe that the lion's share of the credit for all the phantom performances that we have seen and enjoyed goes to Hal Prince, who so masterfully directed the stage version of PHANTOM. Michael Crawford had the good fortune to be the first actor to take this direction. He did a wonderful job, of that there is no question . . . . but so did Davis Gaines, and countless others who followed him. Michael is the one everyone gravitates to, because he set the precedent by being first. While I am sure he would do a good job, for the film we need a person who has charisma on the screen. I have seen nothing in Michael Crawford's past to indicate he has any charisma on screen at all! Perhaps a screen test would prove differently today, but since I do not have the advantage of seeing such a test, I cast my vote for Antonio Banderas. Banderas comes across very well on screen, has a good singing voice (though this could be dubbed, if necessary), and has box office appeal. He was willing to audition for the role also, and I am sure he could take direction as well as Crawford, if not better! I vote for Banderas.
From Betty O'Brien:
I saw Michael Crawford in concert last night in Cleveland and he received THREE standing ovations....one for The Music Of The NIght. You could just feel the electricity when the music started for the phantom sequence of his concert. People came to hear him perform, and especially to hear him perform the Phantom songs. I never saw him in the show of Phantom.. I hope Warner Bros. listens to the people for change. This movie could be a definite classic if they cast the right person. I've talked to younger people who are crying for decent, wonderful, escapist movies like the old movies were. I believe Warner Bros. could create such a classic film if they would just open their eyes.
I have loved the music from "Phantom of the Opera" for many years and enjoyed several touring company performances. And, although I was never able to see Michael Crawford perform the role on stage, I am completely astounded by Warner Brothers idea to cast anyone else in the movie. Twelve million copies of the original cast recording signifies a huge number of people whom have been introduced to this musical through the music and to Michael Crawford's interpretation of the role. While the Cast Recording is very good, Mr. Crawford has improved immeasurably over the past 12 years. Having recently witnessed a live performance by him, I can tell you that his performance of songs from the show brought both chills and tears. Using nothing but his amazing voice and some rather dramatic lighting, Mr. Crawford brought his Phantom to life for the audience here in Kansas City. The performance left me yearning to be able to go back in time and see the whole stage show in either New York or Los Angeles, although, if I remember correctly, getting tickets to the show while Michael played the phantom was nearly impossible.
For many of us, Michael Crawford IS and ALWAYS WILL BE the Phantom of the Opera.
From P. FitzSimmons:
There seems to be a whole lot of controversy as to whether Michael Crawford or Antonio Bandares should play the phantom in the movie version of the "Phantom of the Opera". It seems to me that Colm Wilkinson, the man who was the longest running phantom in the world is the obvious choice.
From KATHLEEN R. KRONEMEYER:
Michael Crawford is the only possible choice to play the Phantom in the movie version of "Phantom of the Opera". No other actor has the presence and vocal virtuosity needed for this role. Mr. Crawford is so identified with the role, it would very disconcerting to watch someone else attempt to fill his shoes.
Please do not ruin the delightful prospect of this movie with the usual "flavour of the month" Hollywood casting.
MICHAEL CRAWFORD, without a doubt, should receive the leading role in the film version of "The Phantom of The Opera." What can I say that hasn't been said by SO MANY others? I feel that I must repeat a few of these reasons in order to benefit those who haven't read through all twenty-five (so far!) parts of this poll and seem to have missed out (as some posts would indicate) on these issues. 1) He was promised the role. Call me a Polyanna, but this is the issue that upsets me the most. To promise MC the role in good faith and then just take it away at a whim is grossly unfair and reeks of Hollywood sleaze and the all to powerful stench of money over art. The malodorous matter of money shouldn't be a problem though, as MC will make more money for the studios. Who is going to this film? Mostly Phantom fans who want MC to be in the movie, and even if some of the fans prefer different stage Phantoms, I am sure that they would be more than happy to see Michael Crawford over Antonio Banderas or any other less than talented Hollywood name any day. Don't get me wrong, AB is a good actor in a different element, but I don't think that he'll bring in a huge draw as the studio expects. 2) MC wants this role and took necessary steps to ensure that he would be free when production began (we're still waiting!). 3) He is NOT too old. Read Leroux's book. MC looks as young and healthy now as when he originated the role of Erik (if not more so!). According to Hollywood standards, he would have been to old when he originated the role in the first place. For statistical purposes, I will mention that I am a twenty-four old female who has no desire to see any glossy plastic pretty boy in this role. If they must, then the studio should save that for Raoul! Besides, our Phantom will be in full makeup and a wig anyway and we won't be seeing his face. 4) As I have just mentioned, MC originated this role. He poured his soul into it, and though the following Phantoms have added their own wonderfully unique voices and elements, they still look to his definitive example. He deserves this role. 5) This is actually my own reason. I am admitting to my selfish desire to see Michael Crawford in the film as I have never had the chance to see him perform live in POTO. I have seen two other great Phantoms on stage and heard different sound clips of other Phantoms on the 'net. Besides listening to the OCR, I have also seen MC live in concert and on videos, I must say that there is still no comparison between Michael and the other Phantoms. MC on my cd player alone or my little 14" television conveys more emotion with his voice and body language than any Phantom that I saw live (and he wasn't even in costume!). Though this film will never capture the intensity of a live production, it should be done RIGHT, and the only way to do this right is to cast Michael Crawford.
There is no question in my mind -- if ALW wants a phantom who can sing and act the role with the depth and feeling that is needed, then Colm Wilkinson is the only choice!!
From Christine Daae:
I've already written once on this subject but I feel I have to make a few extra comments. A large number of people are saying that Michael Crawford is the "only" Phantom. I have to ask them, where have they been over the past 10 years? Certainly not seeing Phantom in the theatres! Although Crawford is the most obvious and logical choice for the movie, he is certainly not the only person who can do justice to the role. Many other Phantoms have made the part equally their own, giving performances which have been just as strong, as moving as powerful and as original. Peter Karrie blows the rest of them away, in my opinion. Acknowledging that Crawford is the most wise choice for the role on screen does not mean claiming that he is the only one who can do justice to the role at all, for that is clearly nonsensical. If you think Crawford is the ONLY Phantom, you need to get out to the theatre a bit more.
Incidentally, Jim9640D is incorrect in saying that ALW wrote the part and script for Crawford. The role of Christine was written for Sarah Brightman, but Crawford didn't come on board until the songs and most of the script had been completed.
I want to recommend Michael Crawford as the perfect actor to play the phantom in a movie version of Phantom of the Opera.
From Jessica Whitlock:
I personally say Michael Crawford Or Barry Manilow..as the phantom says," you are trying my patience...Make your choice"
Michael Crawford did an amazing job as Phantom in the Broadway and West End productions of Phantom Of The Opera. His voice is perfect. He is the Phantom. The Phantom lives in him and he in the Phantom.
As for the Barry Manilow thing everyone's probably thinking to themselves, "Yeah, right...Barry Manilow...This has got to be some type of joke." It's not. His voice has become wonderful over the years and he has the perfect look for Phantom Of The Opera...He's a great actor also.
Someone said something about the Phantom being to old? Is this possible? Somehow, I think not!
These are just my opinions, and they are VERY well thought out after a lot of consideration and talking with others in my home town.