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 fifth file of posts. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.
Anyone, like myself, that has seen Michael Crawford perform as the POTO, knows he is the one and only POTO. The movie version, without Michael Crawford would be a sham that reviewers would see through instantly...thereby rendering the movie a disaster.
From Betty O'Brien (EObrien404@aol.com):
I couldn't connect to the poll online because of my browser. I want to cast my vote for Michael Crawford to play the role. He originated the phantom on Broadway, won a Tony Award for his performance, and should be the only one under consideration for the role. Thank you for running this poll.
From Janette Cataldo:
My vote has to go to Michael Crawford, he created the role. There have been others who have played it very well but no one has BECOME the phantom. If Mr. Crawford is given a chance to make the movie, Warner Bros. Will have a classic that will be shown for years.
From Pierce Koslosky, Jr., Omaha, NE:
Michael Crawford is to me the most logical choice. He has lived and breathed the role for years, has hordes of devoted female fans, and the guy can sing. --I personally liked Claude Rains in the 1943 film version, and he was older than Crawford is now, so I feel that's a non-factor. Besides a younger "Phantom" can't express the lifetime of anguish this character is carrying around with him.
As for Banderas, how many masked lead roles should one guy play? Zorro is not the Phantom. I would hate to see Michael Crawford get the Julie Andrews/"My Fair Lady" treatment.
From Andrew King:
I think Thomas James O'Leary should do it. His voice is loud, powerful, and great. Plus his acting is good. But MC-Michael Crawford was the first and is use to the camera's since he was in Hello Dolly so probably he should do it. Any phantom actor, but not Antonio!
From Carolyn Weaver:
In 1990 when they first decided to do the movie they selected Michael Crawford he was the choice at that time and is still the one who truly is the Phantom. He has the sensitivity and voice to play this part. When you see him sing "Music of the Night" now you know he still has the ability to show such power in acting and singing. The song belongs to him and the part. He has done movies before and is not too old as some believe. From the book you get the feeling that the Phantom is older than Christine. Michael shows a deep appreciation for the character. I have seen 5 different people play the role of Phantom and no one has done it with such power than Michael Crawford.
From Peter Saxe, NY, NY:
Michael Crawford became a star in the title role on stage. He has become a star in Las Vegas, he sings all over the world, he has sold millions of recordings internationally. The show has reached it's 10th year in NYC without stars. It would be foolish not to allow Mr. Crawford to recreate his role. The show itself has become the star. And while Mr. Banderas sang quite well as Che', his heavily accented Spanish accent would be inappropriate for the Phantom. Besides, we'd never get to see is gorgeous face.
It would be fun to fill out the cast with people like Kelsey Grammar as one of the opera managers, perhaps Placido Domingo as Piangi.. and take your pick for Carlotta.. perhaps let someone like Dawn Upshaw play Christine.
Cast the damn thing correctly rather than worry about stars..
Michael Crawford, hands down. He knows the role, he originated it on stage. He may not have the star power of Antonio, but Antonio is used to bring in the viewers, it will be a total shame!
From Peggy O'Brien (EObrien404@aol.com):
I'm using my sister's computer to cast my vote for Michael Crawford as the phantom in the movie Warner Brothers is planning. He was the first phantom and should have the honor of doing the role. Michael Crawford is my vote.
From Diana Ebersbacher:
Michael Crawford. He spent months creating the Phantom character. He IS the Phantom. The Phantom movie without Michael Crawford would be as unthinkable as "The King and I" without Yul Brynner. When someone doesn't recognize the name Michael Crawford, all you have to do is say, "He was the original "Phantom of the Opera," and everyone says, "Oh, of course." If anyone deserves the part, it is Mr. Crawford. But more than that, people who go to see the movie deserve the best phantom they could possibly see, and that is also Michael Crawford. Thanks for allowing me to express my opinion.
From ADA Meyers, Pleasantville, N J :
Thank you so much for a chance to be heard. After seeing 8 out of the 10 actors who have played ALW's Phantom on Broadway, I have to say NO ONE comes close to the genius of the wonderful MICHAEL CRAWFORD. He and HE alone must do the film. Again, Many Thanks.
From Bryan W. Schneider:
There's only one person in my mind who should play The Phantom in the movie: (c'mon, everyone, say it with me) MICHAEL CRAWFORD! Age is not a factor with this character, so it can't be that they're looking for someone younger. As far as I'm concerned, no one can surpass Mr. Crawford's ability and interpretation where this music is concerned. Granted, I was pleasantly surprised by Antonio Banderas' singing ability in "Evita," but the only reason I can think of that he would be the front-runner is that he is a Hollywood "name." And that, my friends, does not a Phantom make.
I would prefer that a movie version of The Phantom of the Opera not be made, but it seems inevitable that it will occur. If it must be made, then by all means Michael Crawford should star. He performed the role on stage, and has television and film experience. Casting a Hollywood name like Banderas might give more box office draw, but the film will ultimately suffer.
Before I say who I would like to see as Phantom let me say this. If you had your choice between an actor who is known for his looks or an actor who is known for his acting, which one would you choose? The one who is known for his acting right? Especially in a role where you won't even see the actor's face. Now the actor I am referring to has already proved himself as THE Phantom by winning the Tony Award. He created that role, made the character come to life. He put humanity and warmth into a man that's cold and cruel. And that is how the Phantom should be played, as one who is cold and heartless on the surface but inside is a kind, loving soul of a man who yearns to be loved. The only one who can do this is Mr. Michael Crawford. That is not just my opinion but the opinion of thousands of Phantom fans.
From Lynnda Hayden-Weschke:
I wouldn't think one should have to ask the question of who should play in the "Phantom of the Opera" movie...the answer is so obvious. If Lord Andrew had any sense when Michael Crawford was playing the "Phantom" on stage...he would have it taped and hidden away in a vault somewhere. All that is needed is to show the "show" "with Michael of course" as a movie. Think of all the many people who wanted to go back and see it again and again with Michael playing the Phantom but couldn't afford it. If it were released as the stage show, at movie theatre prices, it would be a hell of a hit!!! The only best alternative would be to have MICHAEL CRAWFORD ONLY do the film. It would take John Travolta and Anthony Banderas 10 years to learn how to move and have the presence of Mr. Crawford. They would also have to dub either of their voices with Michael Crawfords'.
the role should go to michael crawford. anyone who saw the original production will recognize all of the nuances he put into the performance. It is more than a singing role. His hand movements, postures and stage presence made the entire performance worth seeing several times (and I did). antonio banderas was OK as che ... but he doesn't have the proper "non latin" voice to do the phantom... I would NEVER see the movie if he did the role.. mandy ...well, he would probably overact the role but he's good in other things.
From Lois A. Benefiel:
I just learned about your poll on who should play the Phantom in the proposed film. Hope it's not too late to cast a vote for Michael Crawford! I just returned to Wichita from Kansas City where several of our family attended Michael Crawford's concert. It was wonderful! Anyone who has seen the concert or Michael's recent PBS special has seen the man *become* the Phantom without benefit of mask, cape or makeup as he sings "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Music of the Night" in that beautiful voice of his (which just gets better and better!). That is the voice which caused me to become a fan of the musical and the only voice I want to hear as Erik in the movie. Did I mention that my husband and I drove from the Gulf Coast of Texas to KC for the concert?
From Nyx: To my mind, Michael Crawford is the only logical choice to play the Phantom. Not only did he originate the role (and thus is the best known of the Phantoms), but he is a film veteran as well, and has starred in a very popular stage show. His concerts are routinely very successful, and he has quite a large following, so his lack of "film starness" shouldn't be an issue. This is the only choice which would satisfy EVERYONE, I think. His fame as Phantom, and general fan following would bring significant crowds, AND the musical fans would not be disgusted to the point of boycotting.
From CCook84914 :
Without a doubt, Michael Crawford should be cast as the Phantom, should the movie ever be made. Although I've never actually seen him as the Phantom, and I've seen several other wonderful actors perform the role, it has been my dream ever since hearing the original cast recording to have his performance captured forever on film. At his recent Las Vegas concert, I watched and listened in awe as he stepped onto the stage, sans make-up, mask, or trembling chandelier overhead, and with graceful, beckoning hands and the power of his voice, became for me THE Phantom.
From Mary C. Wilson:
The only logical choice is Michael Crawford. His name is synonymous with the Phantom and he certainly can still draw a major movie audience. Having seen his recent PBS special filmed at the Cerritos Center in LA, Mr. Crawford sang beautifully with as much emotion, if not more, than he did 10 years ago. Even in his tuxedo, he literally became the Phantom with his expressive hands and demeanor. He simply captivated the audience-it was as if we were transported back to the wonderful theatrical experience that is the Phantom of the Opera. There are many great actors currently playing the Phantom, most notably Mr. Thomas James O'Leary (at the Majestic Theater on Broadway), but Michael Crawford is known not only to theater fans but fans of popular culture as well. Warner Brothers does not need Antonio Banderas to insure a success-just keep the script true to the ALW version and cast Michael Crawford and you will have a hit and fans will most likely come again and again ala Titanic. Cast Banderas and there will certainly be an audience who comes out of curiosity, especially those first-timers i.e. who have never seen the play but it is doubtful that there will be much of a repeat audience which is desirable to boost those box office sales. Warner Brothers-think carefully before you "MAKE YOUR CHOICE".
From Kathleen Knauf:
I support Michael Crawford to play the title role in the movie The Phantom of the Opera. The Phantom of the Opera has been such a force in the theater world with the number of people seeing the show, the amount of money it has grossed and its international following. The impact that the Phantom has made is due largely to Michael Crawford and how he took a killer, a man who was disfigured and tormented, and gave heart to him. With his mesmerizing singing voice and his emotionally and physically charged performance, it came as a surprise to no one when he won awards in London, New York and Los Angeles, including the much coveted Tony and Olivier. When Michael Crawford was picked to play the Phantom on the stage, it was called "a brilliant casting coup." How could it be called anything less for the movie.
Michael Crawford should be the singer/actor cast as the Phantom. He originated the role, helped to create it, played it to acclaim in London, New York, and Los Angeles and is an experienced film actor as well. Many actors have played the role, but any place in the world that knows the musical knows Michael Crawford as the original Phantom. I recently saw him perform in concert, and his singing, acting, and "patented" graceful moves are better than ever. I would like to see an advertisement for the film like this: Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera, Starring the Original Phantom, Michael Crawford
When I think of The King and I, I think of Yul Brynner. When I think of The Phantom of the Opera, I think of Michael Crawford. He is "the voice" on the original cast recording. I want to see this tony award winner who began it all. Michael Crawford would be the reason I would go see the movie.
From Mary Armellino:
Please cast my vote for Michael Crawford to reprise his role as Phantom of the Opera in the forthcoming movie by Warner Bros.