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 third file of posts. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.
From Elaine Anastas:
Here is a suggestion for the Phantom Of The Opera movie - ANTHONY WARLOW Anyone who saw him play the role in Australia knows he has more singing and acting talent than the suggestions so far. Just listen to the International cast recording of Les Miserables for his Enjolras or the complete Jekyll & Hyde and get captivated by this wonderful talent. He also has amazing charisma and is young enough to carry the role. To those who think the role needs a star - it doesn't, the show is the star, but it does need to be played by people with talent. Ten years ago I would have agreed with Michael Crawford, but it's far too late now, I saw him perform in Australia and it was not money well spent!
From Regina McCullough:
If anyone else but Michael Crawford plays the role in the movie, it will not be the Phantom we fell in love with. Who else has the voice that touches your soul. I vote for Michael Crawford, of course.
From Cynthia Nunn:
Without a doubt in my mind, the Tony-award winning actor who created the role of the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera, MICHAEL CRAWFORD, is the best candidate for this role. His millions of worldwide fans will flock to see him recreate this legendary role. His voice on the Original London Cast recordings is that of the Phantom, as evidenced by its having recently gone quadruple platinum in sales, a first for a stage musical recording. I will see Phantom of the Opera every single night it plays in my hometown theatre if Warner Bros. will cast MICHAEL CRAWFORD as the Phantom.
From Abby Greene:
There is no better person I think, than Michael Crawford for this role. Michael was the original and was critically acclaimed! Many nights he was practically bombarded with flowers at curtain call. Why not show the avid movie goers what us avid theater goers were blessed with?
From Roberta Turel:
I think Michael Crawford should play the role of Phantom in the movie version. He was outstanding in the stage version and his voice adds to the role of the Phantom. Since the role of Phantom is mainly behind a mask, age should not be a factor in the decision but the acting and the voice.
From Gary Smith:
Personally, I believe the only Phantom there could be would be Michael Crawford. Being the original Phantom, he has a huge following with Phantom fans. If Warner Brothers wants a famous celebrity, they shouldn't choose someone like Antonio Banderas, whom would merely anger Phantom fans. Since Phantom fans are really the ones that will see it again and again, those are the fans you need to please; not Banderas fans, who will only see it once, only to see Antonio. Crawford has an incredible voice, has movie experience, knows the part of the Phantom like the back of his hand, and is eager to do it. He is the only choice.
From StefFLP145 :
I think Michael Crawford should be in the movie. I've never seen him perform the show live but his voice on the OCR is mesmerizing. When he sang songs from Phantom during his PBS concert, he immediately goes into character with each song.
I think either Michael Crawford or Ron Bohmer should play the Phantom in the film version. They both have proven themselves as world class performers and they bring the story to life. Also Franc D'Ambrosio of the SF company would be great.
I believe Michael Crawford should be cast as the Phantom of the Opera, if a movie of the Broadway show is made. He was, after all, the ORIGINAL Phantom, and won numerous awards for his performance. I've heard that Antonio Banderas is being considered for the role. Mr. Banderas was very good in Evita, and I'm sure as an actor he is capable of playing the role as the Phantom, but I don't believe that his voice would bring the power or emotional impact across as would Michael Crawford's. I think that Mr. Banderas would make an excellent Raoul, though!
From Carole Lopes:
The only choice to play the Phantom is Michael Crawford. The difference in the show (comparing LA to both NY and the touring company) is so astounding when Michael Crawford plays and sings the part. He displays such emotion and sensuality in this character that it can't be equaled by any other performer. His award winning performance identifies him forever as the Phantom just as Rex Harrison is remembered for Henry Higgins and Yul Brynner as the King of Siam. Michael Crawford ignited the phenomenon of Phantom to become an international sensation and a candidate for a movie. He should be allowed to complete what he started.
From Joann L. Quinn:
Having seen The Phantom of the Opera numerous time, no one can compare,Michael Crawford is the Phantom. This is a role he created and brought to life. Having won awards (Tony, a Los Angeles Drama Critics Award, among others) for his portrayal, Michael Crawford should be Warner Brothers one and only choice for this role. Travolta or Banderas, what are they thinking?
From Richard Horner:
Who should play the Phantom? The man who won a Tony for his role - MICHAEL CRAWFORD. Michael Crawford will insure that the film becomes the Classic it deserves to be!
From Judy Horner:
My vote for the actor/singer to be cast in the role of "Phantom Of The Opera" would be MICHAEL CRAWFORD. He *is* the Phantom.... no one can act out the part and sing the songs from the musical the way Michael does! NO ONE!!!!! I have heard many singers sing this song...some of them very well, but no one can capture my heart and soul like MICHAEL CRAWFORD!!!!!!
I believe Michael Crawford is definitely the best choice for phantom in the movie. He created the role, and has a magnificent voice with a talent to surround the soul with music like the TRUE phantom had. Not only this, but he has had many years of experience acting and singing not only on Broadway but in LA, London, and Las Vegas. He fits the role so well, being that he is a father-type age to a Christine who would be only 20 or so, and his accent is proper, deep, and accentuating. Besides, the man would be heart broken I'm sure if he didn't get the role that he's spent years of his life performing! Last point...the guy won a TONY for crying out loud! No doubt Michael Crawford is the ideal phantom for this movie! Better than Travolta, who played a greasy teenager singing pop-like songs, or Antonio Banderas, who has a Spanish accent....cast HIM as Ubaldo Piangi perhaps? But i repeat, MICHAEL CRAWFORD IS THE MAN FOR THE MASK!
From Troy Seay:
Hi my name is Troy Seay, I am twelve years old, my mom is a big fan. I am a fan to since I saw Michael Crawford in EFX. I want to see him in the movie. He is a really good singer and I listen to him all the time because my mom won't stop playing his music. Please film the movie with him! He is really great!
From Mrs. Margaret O'Brien:
I am 75 years old. My daughters took me to see two plays, Cats, and The phantom of the Opera. I didn't see Michael Crawford but have heard his tapes. I think he should be in the movie version. Thank you for accepting my vote for Michael Crawford.
Absolutely no argument, it has to be Michael Crawford. Because cinema is so much broader than theater, when a musical based movie is made, the actor who plays in it tends to be known as the "official". Therefore, it has to be Michael. Already he is regarded as the TRUE phantom because he was the first and out of all the other phantoms, he is the one with the perfect mixture of emotion, charisma, voice and acting skill. Not to mention he is also has the most experience both in stage and screen To make a Phantom movie without him would be a terrible mistake. You must, must, must, must have Michael Crawford as the Phantom!!!
From Bethanie Rayburn:
May I add my voice to the increasing clamor for Michael Crawford to play the Phantom. He's the only choice---if he isn't cast, they shouldn't make the film at all. The first time I saw the play, a different actor was playing the role. He was very well known nationally, and he had a unique interpretation. It was okay. The following time that I saw the play, Michael Crawford was back, and when he made his entrance, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. His Phantom was so powerful, so breathtaking to observe. It is still the best theatrical experience I've had in over 20 years of going to see musical theatre. From the 19th century perspective if you will. In the original novel, the Phantom is an older man. The Phantom rail against populist casting in the opera house. The Phantom is against performers who sleepwalk (or make do with mannerisms) through their roles. The fear is that a "name" movie star will do exactly what the original character was against. Witness the difference between the phenomenal Patti LuPone in the original cast of Evita and Madonna on film. Patti's performance was complete, there was motivation behind every movement, every nuance. In the film version we observe a woman waving her arms in the air, a pale imitation, with no motivation to the action, no passion in the voice. She looked pretty, but she wasn't Eva. Please refuse to allow that sort of mistake to happen again. Michael Crawford IS the Phantom of the Opera.
From Vivienne Clowes Hollins, Perth, Australia:
Michael Crawford should be the only choice for the POTO film. He made Erik,and he is the quintessential phantom.No one can reproduce his magic in the role. Do the producers want a classic or is money the prime object?
From Annette Solow:
I have an opinion and a question: My opinion is that I feel that since films made from successful Broadway Musicals (i.e. "Annie", "A Chorus Line", "Evita") usually do not have the strong vocals and music as their Broadway predecessors. That usually (coincidentally?) results in less strength at the box office. I feel that that casting of the lead in Phantom should therefore, go to an actor who has played the part successfully and who also has a strong vocal background (The music IS the point of this story!!!). I therefore cast my vote for either Michael Crawford (his age is just fine), Davis Gaines or Thomas J. O'Leary (who is currently wowing them on Broadway!). Their performances were (are) mesmerizing!!! My question is: Will Sir Andrew be given the results of these polls? Thank you for allowing everyone's input -- it makes sense since we ARE the ones who pay to see these productions. (P.S. I will not pay to see Antonio B. if he is cast -- he's probably a wonderful actor, but I want to see more range, emotionally and vocally).
From Jennifer Bunton:
You ask who could play the role of the Phantom, well that is so simple. Non other than my very own San Francisco phantom, Franc D'Ambrosio. I have read the other responses and most of them say Michael Crawford, yeah right. Now that sounds very rude but, I am no dummy when it comes to acting and music. I have been studying both, seriously for the past 10 years. I know what it takes to play a role such as the phantom and Franc has got every quality. Crawford, well he is just way to old to give the phantom a romantic, yet endearing character. I have seen Franc, and I am being serious, 10 times as the phantom and I cry and fall for him every time. I love the play, read the many books available, have about every cast recording of the Phantom, I know what I am talking about!!!!!!! Franc is the Phantom because, he puts so much into every move, every note, every word that comes out of his body. I believe that there isn't another person in the world that can do what Franc does, sorry, not even Crawford. I hope someone reads this and listens to my say. GO FRANC.
From Rochelle Drucker :
Michael Crawford should be allowed to play the Phantom in the movie. He created the role and there is none who can compare with his performance. I know, I've seen others in the role and in my humble opinion no one can touch him. He is "The Phantom of the Opera".
From Linda Okada: I consider myself to be a big fan of POTO, and have been lucky enough to see the show 10 times, with 7 different phantoms playing the role (NYC, London, LA, SF). They each have their own perspectives and strong points, but Michael Crawford would be my favorite candidate for the film role. He has shaped and molded the role, at its origin, and every viewer that sees Phantom on any single performance sees his influence in that role, whether or not they know it. Far and above these movements, he brings a love and compassion coming from this character that is unsurpassed by the other wonderful actors that I have seen portray this role. I would like this movie to be as great a movie as it could be, and Mr Crawford's selection would be the big step in making the difference between another movie musical, and THE musical that it has become in many of our lives.
From X-Phile Phantom-phan:
Michael Crawford is definitely the best person to play Phantom. The role requires a powerful voice, and Michael knows/has what it takes. Although I am voting for Michael, I believe almost any person who has played Phantom on stage is qualified for the part. Michael is just the best choice of them. I hope the part does not go to Antonio Banderas or any other big Hollywood name just because they are a big Hollywood name and therefore can attract more viewers. Andrew Lloyd Webber should keep the integrity of the musical by casting Michael who has proven himself worthy of being the Angel of Music.
I think that the role should go to Michael Crawford. He is the greatest Phantom of all time, and he is the only person who can bring the magic of the musical to the big screen. He is capable of making people forget that it's not really him, that he's really NOT the Phantom. He is the best Phantom, he is the ORIGINAL phantom, he is the quintessential Phantom and he is the ONLY Phantom. This role SHOULD NOT GO to Antonio Banderas!!!!! PLEASE, I BEG OF YOU!!! If Antonio is cast in this movie it will be a "Disaster beyond our imaginations..." The movie can only be a success if someone with an intimate knowledge of the character is playing Erik and that person is Michael Crawford. He played Erik for 3 1/2 years. He knows what he is doing! If Antonio is cast it will be the greatest tragedy of the American film history. GIVE THE MASK TO MICHAEL!! If MIchael is not cast, than it will prove that Warners is only after money and not QUALITY!!!! MICHAEL CRAWFORD IS THE ONLY PHANTOM. GIVE HIM BACK HIS MASK!!!
From Sherry L Beale:
Okay, Warner Brothers and RUG, you have three choices: a phantom with a ridiculous dimple (Travolta), a phantom with a thick Spanish accent (Banderas), or a phantom with a beautiful singing voice (Crawford). Why is this a difficult choice? Wake up, Hollywood, and learn from your many past mistakes concerning movie musicals. The role of the Phantom belongs to Michael Crawford. He earned it the hard way by originally creating the role and staying with it for more than 1,300 performances. I also seem to remember that Crawford won rave reviews from the tough and fickle theater critics, not to mention numerous awards for his performance. If Hollywood wants to immortalize the Phantom of the Opera, then don't give us a cheap imitation to remember; give us the real thing -- Michael Crawford.
From Arnie Kuhn:
Michael Crawford is the Phantom of the Opera, and is the logical choice to do the movie. Warner Brothers should not underestimate Michael's following or his star power. Having Michael do the movie would ensure the film's success. They should just listen to Michael sing Phantom on CD, that alone should convince them right there. Warner Brothers, Michael is fool-proof.
From Lindsay Davis:
I cast my vote for Michael Crawford. First and foremost, he was the original Phantom and truly has the voice of an angel of music.....Also, *anyone* who has experience playing the Phantom on stage would be much more deserving of the role than Banderas. Believe me, I heard him sing at Webber's 50th birthday bash.... Consider this *two* votes for Michael (one from myself and my friend, Jennifer, here, who feels the same way).
From Collette Gingry:
My vote for the role of Eric is without a doubt Michael Crawford. Not only does he have the voice, he captured the soul that this role requires. His portrayal of the Phantom made a lot of people wish the bad buy had got the girl and why pass up talent like that. His age should not be an issue, only his talent and that speaks for itself.
From Karin Willison:
I would like to cast a vote for Michael Crawford as the movie Phantom. He has both the stage and screen experience, and his name is synonymous with the role not only among theatre fans but also the general public. As manager of the Phantom of the Opera E-mail List, I can tell you that the vast majority of fans prefer Crawford, and Banderas is universally opposed. I have also spoken to dozens of people, many of whom are not Phantom fans and rarely attend musicals. All were appalled at the idea of casting Antonio Banderas, and immediately named Michael Crawford as the person they felt should be cast. Andrew Lloyd Webber may think Banderas will bring in the masses, but from what I have seen, the masses will not want to see the movie if it stars a Hollywood name who is not truly qualified. If Andrew Lloyd Webber has any common sense and artistic integrity, he will either leave Phantom on stage where it belongs or let the man who created the role - Michael Crawford - bring Erik to life on the big screen.
The Save Phantom from Hollywood Campaign - http://phantom.simplenet.com/savephantom